Monday, April 30, 2007

Proust and Vermeer

Proust and his writing are alive and well and living all over the world. Before I began this blog, I had no idea. Now I feel at one with a great wave of readers, working their way thru the volumes, reading and talking about In Search of Love Time.

In Swann's way, Swann toys with an essay on Vermeer.

Yesterday, 4/29/07, Quillhill of Angstadt (what a nom!) writes in his blog (link is above):

"The last trip Marcel Proust made out of his apartment was to see three Vermeers on display at a museum in the Tuileries. In his early years he also traveled to Delft and saw View of Delft. Though we are never told any details about the essay on Vermeer that Charles Swann is ocassionally writing, likely it would have included the epiphany described by the narrator and incorporated with Proust's own experiences in the sixth part of his novel. As in Mr. Jost's film, we quote in conclusion a passage from Proust that sends shivers down our spine:
All that we can say is that everything is arranged in this life as though we entered it carrying a burden of obligations contracted in a former life; there is no reason inherent in the conditions of life on this earth that can make us consider ourselves obliged to do good, to be kind and thoughtful, even to be polite, nor for an atheist artist to consider himself obliged to begin over again a score of times a piece of work the admiration aroused by which will matter little to his worm-eaten body, like the patch of yellow wall painted with so much skill and refinement by an artist destined to be forever unknown and barely identified under the name Vermeer."

And in the Boston Globe yesterday, an interview with a so-called "avant guard" artist, Lydia Davis, who has translated Proust, Swann's Way.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Everyone is reading Proust!

Is it spring? Is it because we are all fatigued by dystopian novels and Iraq and the weird globally warmed weather? I found yet another Proust blog, with good discussion in the comments.

Marcel is kind of a whiny butt, however, there is a kind of order in his world, at least until society crumbles and reforms, and the middle-class Mme. Vintieul becomes high society. She is such a great character, and not at all likeable.

I am bogged down 170 pages into the novel, and am trying to get through Three Trapped Tigers first. Meanwhile everyone is reading Proust and blogging Proust. How cool is that?


Friday, April 27, 2007

Yet Another Proust Blogger

I don't know whether you know about the facility Google has that will search the net for you and bring any mention of a topic to your mailbox. That's how I have been finding my fellow Proust readers and bloggers, the literary and the obsessed.

Proust generates many mentions per day, most of them somewhat frivolous, but every now and then one finds gems, pearls among the swine, as we say. The swine appear to have eaten melamine, too, alas. This little piggy doesn't go to market. Speaking of food, I noticed a cookbook advertised somewhere like Proust's mother might have written.

Who knows? Terribly disappointed by the books I have recently begun, so I'll trudge back to Marcel, who puts together such beautiful sentences.


Thursday, April 26, 2007

Another Proust Blog

I liked the voice of the blogger. Lots of comments. Didn't read them all. Just back from the Big Apple. Saw the "Barcelona" show at the Met. Good stuff, some of which reminded me of Marcel.

More anon.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Clive James likes Proust

Recently I paraphrased Clive James in my "other" blog, and now I find out that he likes not just Henry James, but you know who. From the New York Post Online edition.


April 22, 2007 -- CLIVE James' "Cultural Amnesia: Necessary Memories From History and the Arts" (Norton, $35) is a fascinating and endlessly re-readable collection of biographical essays that range from Charlie Chaplin to Margaret Thatcher. Often, a subject is merely a jumping-off place - an essay on Rilke becomes a meditation on artists' political convictions. Elsewhere, his passion for Proust leads the reader to re-explore the French intellectual's work. Like the very best books, the author's well-considered passions help ignite our own.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Discussing Proust and Plato

Turn off your TV week is soon upon us. Bruce Watson, in the Amherst Bulletin speculates what might happen .

"This year, TV Turn-off Week will once again change America. For one whole week, sets across the country, whether plasma, HDTV, or old black and whites, will be turned OFF! Americans will spend their evenings in deep discussion of Proust and Plato. And no one will even care who the father of Anna Nicole's baby might be."

For the full story see his article.

Do YOU think America will be discussing Proust and Plato? Do YOU think Americans will turn off the TV?

I'll bet my dog-eared copy of Proust that they will not.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007


I found a cool French blog with a great painting of Proust:

Marcelle Proust

"Marcelle" Proust is blogging. What is weird is that I had a dim idea of writing a short story from the viewpoint of a Marcelle Proust from Paris, Texas and paralleling (but nowhere NEAR as long) some of the ideas in Proust ouvre. My idea was to give her a modern malady like chronic fatigue syndrome. Take my idea and run with it. Ideas can't be copyrighted. Ideas, like butterflies, are free.

It is damn near impossible to come up with a really original idea these days. In my work in process, Festival Madness, I had someone flying an ultralight with Monarch butterfly wings and damned if that exact machine wasn't in the paper six months later. I had a lowlife named Earl before the TV show in another, still unpubbed, novel. I set a crime in a parking garage in Cambridge, MA and months later, there was a crime in the parking garage. Last night a woman in my writing group mentioned that a famous mystery novelist is setting a book in the Baltic. Hey, that's my territory. It's taking forever and a day to get these books published, and every day I feel more unoriginal. Next thing I know, someone else will be blogging Proust in Foxborough. Merde.

Second hand Odette

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Proust and Pere Lachaise

The link is to an old (1984) NY times article about Pere Lachaise, the cemetery where Proust and many others, the noted and the unknown, are buried. 3000 cats (I assume feral) reputedly live in the cemetery. The writer is seeking Proust's grave, pictured above.


Sunday, April 08, 2007

Food in Proust

Ye gods! I'm reading the New Yorker this week and Adam Gopnik mentions all the food in Proust, implying there are treatises (but hopefully no blogs) about it. So here is the link. Gopnik is a great writer who has a book about Paris (the city not the celebrity) out.

Right now I'm reading the antithesis of Proust: Three Trapped Tigers, about pre-Castro (barely) Havanna. Of course the interesting thing is that it's about young men, one a journalist, the other a musician and their lives. And music. And writing. And women and men. Come to think of it, sort of like Proust. Only in a 1959 vein. Try to imagine. It's a great book. Not a quick read, but the puns and descriptions are fantastic. Like Proust, except for maybe the puns. He does have lots of humor which flew right by me the first times I read The Masterpiece.

Just today in the NYTimes book review section, I read that after a few years, one actually forgets almost all of any given book, hence the need to reread.

Do it!


Thursday, April 05, 2007

Proust in comic Form?

From a blog:

Proust Adaptation Wins Literary Award

I'm on super-shaky ground with any story that makes me try to understand French, contextualize French literary awards and remember what little I know about Marcel Proust, but notes that Stephane's Heuet's adaptation into comics form of the Swann in Love portion of the Swann's Way portion of Remembrances of Things Past, which I believe is Heuet's fourth volume in the series, has won a general arts award. The prize in question is the Prix des excrivains du Sud and it's given to a work in any art form, this being the first time it's gone to a work in comics form. I don't have any basis to know if this is important or trivial, but I thought it worth a mention. NBM was publishing the English-language version of this series, last I knew. posted 6:02 am PST Permalink

This is the link this came from: scan for

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Swann and Odette

Still reading about Swann and Odette and the early day of their "love." It goes on forever. Proust uses pages to describe the "little phrase." I have listened to the Sonata a few more times and it sounds better with familiarity.

In the meantime, here is a site with general Proust information:

I am waiting for some action at the Verdurin's dinner parties.

Au Revoir!