Saturday, September 16, 2006

Introductions and Uncertainties

In a previous posting the issue of negative Introductions to Proust was addressed and I toyed with the idea of inaugurating a competition to find the "worst" or most hilarious such introductions- I would lead off with this from Joshua Landy:

If someone were to suggest that the texture of Proust's novel resembles nothing quite so much as molasses, it would be difficult to dissent with any great conviction. The over-long book, with its over-long sentences, over-long paragraphs, over-long sections and over-long volumes, is as thick and viscous as treacle, and little more transparent.

Landy goes on to quote a 1912 review by Jacques Normand:

Reading cannot be sustained for more than five or six pages, one can set down as a positive fact that there will never be a reader hardy enough to follow along for as much as a quarter of an hour, the nature of the author's sentences doing nothing to improve matters.

Landy is of course a Proust supporter, and he notes that it is the author's style which, though idiosyncratic, and labyrinthine, given to logical confusion and an overwhelming sense of uncertainty, is the reflection of a particular vision of existence. The style maps or models:

the structure of the self as Proust sees it, namely as an entity divided not only from the outside world but also from within, into discrete temporal segments, which each contain, in turn, a plurality of faculties and drives.

So, reflecting on the previous posting unless we slavishly record every occurrence and thought in the novel, we should not be surprised that here and there we miss or forget something.

I feel I too should comment on how not just my sentences are becoming longer and longer but it also seems to affect writers on Proust such as Landy!!


Blogger Dorothy W. said...

Well, I feel better for forgetting things in Proust then! Now who is Joshua Landy? Someone I should know, I'm guessing!

4:25 PM  
Blogger Stefanie said...

What a relief I feel for missing things. I was surprised though that you said Landy is a supporter of proust after that first passage. With friends like these...

I notice my setences are tending to be longer and more convoluted with lots of insertions. I have always tended toward longer sentences and have worked hard to learn to be more concise. Proust is sending me to my ruin!

9:49 AM  
Blogger Alan said...

Dorothy, I found Landy's quote in an article he wrote called "The Texture of Proust's Novel"- a chapter in the Cambridge Guide to Proust.

2:09 PM  
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