Thursday, December 25, 2008

Proust and Photography

Santa meant to bring Paintings in Proust, but he got a tad confused and arrived with Proust and the Power of Photography

A big surprise, to be sure, and this turns out to be a very interesting little book, with lots of unexpected gems about Marcel.

Apparently M. was something of a sloppy dresser and was the bane of his mother who liked for him to leave the apartment looking rather spiffy. Alas, not.

He loved exchaning photographs with friends and with new acquaintances, and he would bother them until they acquiesced and gave him their image.

It's all about images, isn't it?

Merry Christmas, and Joyeux Noel.

The Other Odette

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Proust Auction in Paris

I'm not the only blogger obsessed with the procedings:

2.2 Million Euros- - Zowie! That's a lot of cash for our narrator's stuff. Would that I had been there.

More. More more.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Proust Auction in Paris

Another Bloomberg post about the French Proust Auction:

Maybe Santa will being you a letter from Proust. No? At least one can hope for the Paintings in Proust book.

I'm baking cookies, creating interesting nibbles with nuts, and planning a dinner party (simple).

We have a dusting of snow today.

'Tis the season

Odette, the other one

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Proust's Letter Auctioned Today

The letters that Marcel Proust wrote to his housekeeper in the last years of his life are to be sold today at Sotheby's Paris auction house.

Let us hope that a university or other institution that would be likely to put some of the letters on view will be the high bidder.

For the full story:

What a great Christmas gift!

The Other Odette

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Blogosphere Is Still Reading Proust

I'm determined to finish volume III before the end of the year. I'm almost there.

Here are more Proust readers, an industrious bunch, to read Proust and blog. Yowza!

Literary summits: (and what could be more elevated than Proust?)

Stranded on a desert island with Molly and Marcel:

Blogger’s Book List and Proust is on it.

Maybe New Hampshire should get a new license plate: Read Proust or Die

The other Odette

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Practical Proust and Mae West

Aha! A new blog to brighten this snowy Sunday in Foxborough. The slough is wintry and the squirrels have discovered (yet again) the suet feeder. I feed the critters lavishly, as Proust feeds my aesthetic needs.

Now I have another new blog, sort of Proustian for you. Love the colorful "home page."

Practical Proust, indeed. As practical as Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats.

Irony isn't dead. My mom loved chicken gizzards. My dad ate the liver. That left me with the heart until I was old enough to demand half the liver. No one ever fought Mom for the gizzard.

The Other Odette

Friday, December 05, 2008

The Proust Questionnaire

Everyone and anyone answers the Proust Questionnaire which dates to, naturally, Proust but is always found in the pages of Vanity Fair. Of course it has spawned a lot of others answering the questions, but I don't often see a crime writer responding to the questionnaire.

Here goes:

By the way, Wednesday evening Marcel's grandmother died, and a page or two later he is entertaining a newly plump Albertine in his room and Francoise bursts in on them. I couldn't have liked it more. Albertine, in the narrator's mind, has achieved a new louchness. Is it experience? Something else? He doesn't tell us, nor, of course does Albertine.

I am actually going to finish the book before the year is out. I am plump giddy.

The other Odette

Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Proustian Moment on the Food Channel

Paula’s Chicken Empanadas call up Warburton's Cornish Pasties

Years ago I worked in Kendall Square and sometimes rode the Red Line to Harvard Square for lunch. It was fun to walk around and decompress from my high tech job.

I was horrified when Warburton's Cafe (now long vanished) stopped selling their Cornish pasties in the Harvard Square shop. Shortly after that, Warburton's followed their pasties into the cold oven of history, and the site became an Au Bon Pain, with O.K. food, but it wasn’t Warburton's.

I remember sitting outside on a bench in the early spring sun with the beggar sparrows cheeping around my feet as the flaky crumbs of the pasty fell from my fingers. Together the sparrows and I devoured that wonderful, savory pasty. Of course, with the buttery crust and the red meat and potatoes within, the pasties were "nutritionally incorrect" and that's probably why the Harvard Square Warburton's stopped producing them. Little demand. Except mine.

Flash forward to Wednesday, when the Food Network’s Paula Deen (she of the butter and mayonnaise recipes) made chicken empanadas on her show. Lordy, I was salivating to beat the band and on Saturday I bought a jalapeno pepper and some pepper jack cheese.I changed the recipe to use my own crust and made other changes to spice things up. Yowza! Couldn't stop eating them. Here is Paula's recipe:
My changes: cut filling in half, except for the jalapeno, add 1/2 sautéed onion and substituted pepper jack cheese. I used adobo seasoning instead of cumin and added the last plantlets of cilantro from the garden before the first freeze.
The crust, which I make in the Cuisinart, is 1 1/2 cups flour, one egg yolk, salt, 1/2 t. medium chili powder, 1 stick unsalted butter and enough ice water until the pie dough forms a ball. Cuisinart pie crust is foolproof. And flaky. You'll love it.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Collection of the Week's Random Proust Musings

I spent the entire weekend thinking about writing, talking about writing and doing everything apropos to writing except actually, well, writing.

Now, of course, I can't wait to get back to my manuscripts. Maybe Marcel felt the same when he went out into society.

I am still dealing with the death of the grandmother in book three.

Here are some blogs and article that I think are worth your while, Proust-wise.

Paintings in Proust:

Observations on Writing and Art

Jay in Equador read Proust and took one hell of a hike:

The Other Odette

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Leisure Guy Reads Proust

Actually, one needs a fair amount of leisure to read Proust. I am still (grimly) plodding through the grandmother's death, irritated by the clueless medics, the antics of Francois, and the Guermantes.

Conflict moves the plot, and this section has it in spades, but Proust, not being a three-murders-a-car-chase-a-couple-explosions-and-raw-sex kind of guy just limns along in Marcels world of home and society, sticking it to practically everyone.

Love it. Love it. Love it.

Proust should indeed be read three times: in youth, middle age and old(er) age. The payoff is, well, Proustian.

the other Odette

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The whole world is still reading Proust

I've been so wrapped up in the U.S. elections that all I read for weeks were newspapers and political blogs. Now that it's over, there's a sense not only of elation but also of letdown.

I will get back to Proust because I am so close to finishing volume 3, which has been, I fear my bête noire. It has just taken forever. No excuses. Writing a lot. Reading other stuff in my so-called genre. Laziness. Take your pick.

Another ambitious blogger is going to take the Proust challenge, so to speak. My only question is: does she think she can read Proust in a few weeks? If so, then I am put totally to shame.
Drop in and see.

We had beautiful weather here the past two days, as they did in Chicago for the victory rally. I do believe the gods smiled.

The other Odette

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Painting in Proust

Today the New York Times Sunday edition had a long article on Painting in Proust by Eric Karpeles. This book looks like a keeper, and if the American economy ever digs itself out of the toilet, I will certainly buy a copy.

In Proust's great masterpiece, he "names more than 100 painters and mentions or describes dozens or works." Who can ever forgot the scenes in Elstir's studio at Balbec?

What a delightful time one would have paging through the paintings that inspired Proust.

The article show a 1922 drawing by Paul Helleu of Proust on his deathbed. He looks so young and calm, as if he just lay down for a nap.

Here is the Amazon link should you decide to buy the book. Oh, why not! Give yourself a Christmas present. It's not THAT expensive.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Paintings In Proust

This book looks so interesting. I think it is worthy of my Christmas wish list. Yes!

Read the review below. The bookseller is in England.

Thames and Hudson. What a cool name. Two rivers. How Proustian.

The other Odette

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Everyone is writing a book about Proust

My sources have turned up two new Proust books. Proust has become quite an industry in the past few years. And everyone's reading him, too. Or is it only us Eastern Elite? I never know.

Mega-congrats to Web Cow Girl who finished reading Proust

A new Proust book: who knew?
When Proust Lost Money on De Beers Stock in Diamond Scandal

Paintings in Proust: another new book. Looks like a keeper

Proust wrote so much about artists and writers--I almost think of them as real people, don't you?

The other Odette

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Unchanging As The Sea

Do Proust's characters ever change? Certainly their social status goes up and down like a yoyo, but does character or personality ever change? I can't think of anyone who outgrows his jealousy, and the desire for status, secrecy, and all these most readable traits do not change.

Here is one blogger's view:

The other Odette

Friday, October 17, 2008

Finding Proust in Unexpected Places

One would think that a baseball chatroom would have to do with baseball, true?

I found a nice writeup on Proust, indeed practically a summary in the Baltimore Orioles baseball chat. Who knew?

The odd thing is, after the Red Sox super-exciting game last night, I couldn't go to sleep, although I had actually slept through most of the Red Sox scoring. Woke up thinking I was in a dream, thank god a dream and not the 7-0 nightmare of earlier in the evening.

Anyway, I picked up Proust and read a couple pages, which were relaxing enough --his grandmother is sick--to send me back to dreamland. Have you ever noticed that some people are really good patients and will do exactly what the doctor recommends no matter what. Like, chop off your head and come back in three days, and that patient would do it, or try. Whereas other patients have a more laissez-faire idea and do what they feel like, or not. My father, alas, was one of those and I am his daughter, horrifying some of my good friends who follow the letter and the spirit and so on.

Proust's grandmother's illness seems complicated. In those days they didn't have all the good diagnostic tools we have today, and various doctors were called, second and third opinions, and specialists who had no knowledge in the area of the grandmother's illness. Interesting to see how times have and have not changed.

Odette, the other one

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Proust's Old Stomping Ground

It must be so thrilling to be in Proust's old "home town," and see the church and the little shops and maybe even take one of the walks that Proust took along the river. Here's a blogger who visited Illiers.

Incredibly cool.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Cool Proust Quote About Sarah Palin

"Let us leave pretty women to men devoid of imagination."

The instant I saw this quote from Proust I thought of Sarah Palin who has looks and moxie (as we say here in the Boston area) and little else.

The quote came from, of all unlikely places, the website of the "Global Filipino Business and Investment Community Website." How do you like them apples? Eeek! That sounds like a Palinism. I'm gonna havta watch my big barracuda mouth.

Sorry, I don't normally inject politics into what should be a "literary" (ha ha) blog, but lately I find myself obsessed with the upcoming U.S. election.

Of course, Massachusetts is solidly in the Obama camp, and I actually only know of one person who will be voting for McCain. The literary community here is left of center. In fact it gets rather inbred to the extent that one begins to believe everyone thinks the same, and of course, everyone does not. Always a dangerous assumption.

I know Proust would find something to say on the topic. I am so happy that he is finally leaving the tea party, although he has been waylaid at least twice and there is the business about the wrong hat. Men used to wear hats besides baseball caps. Hard to believe, no?

Odette, wearing her political hat today.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Completing Proust

Cast your eyes on the perfect madeline from this New York bakery. On the very big occasion of the blogger's friend's having completed his reading of Proust. Zowie!

I read some pages last night. The narrator is finally leaving the party with Charlus after causing the hostess some angst and treating us to a horrible scene between St. Loup and his poor sweet mother. That bad Rachel. Stupid, smitten St. Loup, like all of the lovers in Proust, his head is in the sand up to his shoulders. And all the lovers are unfaithful. It's quite awful, really, and very, very good. And even our Odette, AKA Mme. Swann was with once with Charlus, the narrator remembers, thinking of a troubling scene from his boyhood.

What goes around is certainly coming around. And back around.


Friday, October 10, 2008

Friday Is Cat Blog Day

I see that I have posted this to the wrong BLOG. Proust readers are likely cat lovers, anyhow, and it would be way too complicated to move the whole post. Annie is the Calico, Thisbe is the Tortoise. They don't much like each other.

Last night, I wondered if the cats would do something memorable today. Well, they both threw up this morning--does that count? My little puke blossoms. Annie has always been bulemic, scarfing down her food without chewing and back up it comes. Thisbe hardly ever yorks, so this was something of a surprise.

Now that cool nights are here, Thisbe has returned to the bedroom and the foot of the bed, and the RULES are in place. The rules are that she doesn't like to be touched or nudged or interferred with in any way during her bed sleep. Woe to the person who touches her with an unsuspecting BARE FOOT. The claws come out, lots of them, and sink into the foot. One must remain absolutely still, until she realizes the threat has passed and takes her claws out. This requires middle-of-the-night nerves of steel.

Annie sleeps outside the bedroom door on a chaise lounge kind of affair. All the furniture in our house is covered with worn-out towels due to Annie's barf habit. We would never make Architectural Digest anyhow.

Proust and Verneer

What a lovely little essay. I hadn't remembered that Bergotte died in front of the Vermeer. Well, what a way to go.

Do read:

The other Odette

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Rainy Sundays: What would Albertine Do?

One of the French poets raptured about rainy Sundays, but I don't remember which one. Googling "rainy Sundays" brings forth a torrent (ha ha!) of web sites and many mentions of Baudelaire, but I couldn't find a quote.

Perhaps some of the readers know. We took a walk in the almost-rain and it was most refreshing. Next Sunday, forcast to be rainy, will find us on a sailboat race on Long Island Sound, an event I am facing with a certain trepidation.

Got my trusty boatshoes and a waterproof windbreaker. Proust, always bundled up in greatcoats and scarves, even in summer, would not be a happy camper. Odette's hair would get all mussed as would the Duchesse of Guermante's blond coif.

St. Loup would rather enjoy the afternoon, and maybe the athletic Albertine would also. Or would she sulk in the ship's cabin? What would Albertine do?

My nightstand becomes ever more disarranged with books, and some discipline needs to come into my life, but--what the hell?


Swann (and Proust) have a new fan

A new reader of Swann's Way, who also revels in the sly humor and the study of human nature in Proust. Hard to know why some critics think Proust a snob when he is forever sticking it to the aristocracy, and writing with such sympathy (and also humor) about the middle and servant classes.

Read on:

Odette, the other one

Saturday, October 04, 2008

The Sweet Cheat Gone

Ah, Albertine! How she attracts and repels us, and how the narrator (Marcel's) possessiveness and jealousy does likewise.

Is not Proust one gigantic study of jealousy?

See this blogger's take on Albertine:

Odette, the other one

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Monday, September 22, 2008

More on the elusive Albertine

Here's another blogger commenting on Albertine. It must be her week.

I'm wondering if she's the Proustian equivalent of "what do women want?" What does Albertine want? She seems always to be "the other," mysterious and elusive.

On the other hand, maybe she wanted to remain a girl in a beach town, riding bicycles with her friends and flirting with the tourist boys. Maybe she did not want the responsibility of finding a suitable husband and taking on married life. Who was Albertine?

Read this blog for more thoughts:
and may we congratulator the writer for completing four volumes?

I am limping through volume III.

Odette, the other one

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Onscreen Scientist Summarizes Proust

Finally a most worthy post apropos Proust from "Onscreen Scientist," who has completed a second reading of Proust in French, and has also completed the work in English.

My hat is off to him, for several reasons. He is a physicist and a software writer. In another lifetime, I wrote software for a living, and with a few exceptions, this was not a literary crowd. I cannot think of any of my software colleagues who would have read Proust and my conjecture is that few of them would have even known who he was. Perhaps the scientist writes AI software or something besides grinding out business transactions ad nauseum ad infinitum.

I have known a few literary physics majors, most of the professors. I think physics teaches a certain curiosity about the world--well all science should do that except maybe creationism, which is of course not science but pseudo-science like astrology and phrenology and Madame Sostirus, cardreader and fortuneteller. I know people who actually believe this stuff.

But back to Proust. Onscreen Scientist offers a great summation of the book--a bit longer than those in the All England Summarize Proust Contest, and I think he is dead on about Albertine. One just cannot ever quite get a handle on her. She remains, for me, too, a tabula rasa.

Currently, I am wallowing in Mme. Villeparisis' endless party, and in two days I leave for Northern Nevada, a wonderful place for reading Proust but I only travel there with softcovers I can leave behind, and of course, that would not be Proust.

So click ye forth and read Onscreen Scientist's Proust post, and then hie ye to Proust himself, the great one. I was an the New England Independent Booksellers Association Trade Show yesterday and scooped up a wonderful bunch of books.

When people say they don't read, I feel an awful sympathy. How could you not read?

After all, Onscreen Scientists reads the master in French. Zowie!

Odette, the other one

Monday, September 15, 2008

Better Than Any Ambien

Yesterday was an early to rise day, and we watched "Mad Men," and finally at 11:30 I climbed into bed. Tried to read a little more of the endless reception in The Guermantes Way. Before I was through a page, yea, even a paragraph (we know M.P. can write ultra-long paragraphs) I had the sensation of eyes closing, page unread, and into dreamland it was.

Not the first time this has happened. Will I ever finish The Guermantes Way?

One blogger has issues with The Prisoner, which I know as The Captive. If confessions are in order, I admit that I always found this one of the more tedious volumes of the novel. Tedious the max.

On starting Proust’s Prisoner:

Here is another blogger's response:
Thoughts from Proust, AKA a “Frenchman.”

I am going to survive Mme. Villeparisis party eventually. I think.

Odette, who showed up at the reception and spoke to Marcel who was rather tongue-tied.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Conflict Moves Life, Not Just the Plot

To catch up, read my prior post about conflict in writing and how important it is.

Someone in my writing group mentioned that we spend our lives trying to avoid conflict, and attempting to live a serene existence, and then as writers we really set the pot to boiling, and how different is the way we (most of us) want to live versus what we must put down on paper.

Of course, in the literary world there are notable exceptions such as Hemingway and Mailer and Fitzgerald and Hunter Thompson. Hmmm. These are all men. Maybe it is women who want the quieter life, like Virginia Wolfe and Emily Dickenson. I wonder if this would make a good topic for a Ph. D. thesis.

If so, take it forth, because I won't be writing any theses.

More of the party at Mme. Villeparisis: I'm beginning to think this whole volume about the Guermantes takes place there. The very conflicted Charlus appears at this party. We'll see much more of him later.

Here's a blogger with good intentions who hasn't quite made it that far into the novel yet. The mention of Proust's translator, Lydia Davis, caught my eye. The blogger doesn't like her book, and mentioned some male authors, and that got me going on the contemplative life versus the life of action.

In another blog, I'm forever telling readers to go forth into the world and look around. That's not the same thing as being engagé, the existential idea of being engaged in life. Are there any existentialists left? I never see any mention, but perhaps I read the wrong periodicals. Perhaps they still haunt left bank cafes.

What amazes me is that the scene at the party goes on for hundreds of pages. And that's also how novel ends, at another party, years later.

If you write, you understand how difficult it is to juggle party scenes, because the intermingling of many people is hard to convey, and it's easy to confuse the reader and botch up the scene. Three or four way conversations become impossible with attribution and focus. Proust does an excellent job--of conveying the party, not of botching the scene. My admiration for Proust increases the longer I write. What a master!

If you are a trifle Proust-challenged, and who isn't, here is a cool web site that can be your character guide. Who's Who in Proust. How cool is that?

Odette, the other one

Friday, September 05, 2008

I Just Love a Good Proust Pun

Look what the web brought me this morning:

The chickens have come home to Proust!

Last night I continued reading (this is taking the entire summer) Mme. Villeparisis' party.
Robert St. Loup en Bray's mother has appeared, and the hostess has warned the Duchesse of Guermantes that Swann's wife Odette, shunned by the Dutchess, will make an appearance. Block has disgraced himself and tout le monde talks of the Dreyfuss affair. Odette has become an anti-Dreyfussard. (Sorry if I mangled the spelling.)

In my attempt to write, I have learned that conflict moves the plot. It moves Proust's masterpiece, slowly, lentement, so be sure, but conflict there is. Between the boy, the mother and the father in the opening pages. Internal conflict. Conflict with the servants, Tante Leonie, Swann and Odette, the narrator and Gilberte. And so on. Did someone mention Albertine?

Conflict rules, but cripes, this reception is sooooo long. Not boring, really, but I can only read a few pages before bedtime. Can't wait until Odette show up.


Odette, the other one

Monday, September 01, 2008

Total Proust

How did I miss this Proust blog? Because it's a few years old, no doubt, but with Proust, unlike politics or popular culture old is good.

There are some old but good writings about Proust in the following books:

Axel's Castle by Edmund Wilson
Studies in Human Time by Georges Poulet

No idea if they are in print or re-issued. My copies are as old as the hills. Undoubtedly there are more modern takes, but I left literature and entered technology, and therein lies a tale.


Saturday, August 16, 2008

A Proust Blog from Laura-Les-Crayons

Lately, not only has my reading of Proust been sort of la-di-dah, but the interesting Proust blogs have dried up for the summer.

Today, I found a singular one, on the topic (mostly) of a Proust lecture. The blogger is a young lady who lives in Paris. I had just been reading the Paris September Gourmet, and recalling our trip of a year and a half ago, or was it two? Anyway, everything converged in delightful serendipity.

Love the name. Have to confess mega-envy over young women living in Paris. Sigh. Ah well, I can cook something French and get out the French linens and some vin rouge and pretend our deck overlooking the slough is a balcon en Paris. Nice, n'est pas? The chickadees and blackbirds can become pigeons and the slough can be the Seine.


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Madam Verdurin

A blogger with a take on one of Proust's great characters, Mme. Verdurin.

And another blogger must be reading about the same party that I am. Pages and pages. Show don't tell. Well, maybe sometimes telling would not be a totally bad thing.

Didn't take Proust to Chicago. Too tired to read most nights, due to overly large dinners with overly much wine and spirits. Lovely, just not conducive to a long read before bedtime.


Friday, August 01, 2008

Les Vacances

Your faithful Odette is off to Chicago for a week. Alas, it's not Balbec and certainly not Nantucket or Easthampton or any of the stylish places.

Puzzle for you: If Proust lived here today, where would he take his holidays? Perhaps the Riviera, not on the beach but high above the coast approached by a steep corniche, where the view in marvelous and the food equally fine. Art galleries and patrons nearby. A bit of shopping, but not too much. Girls in bikinis with sportscars, not bicycles. How it all has changed.

It would be nice to be in Nice. Instead, the windy city on the hottest week of the year.

Ah well,


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Duke and the Duchesse

I picked up Proust again, and read and read and am still at Mme. Villeparisis party with Marcel and Bloch and the hostess and the Duke and the Duchesse of Guermantes. The Duke (Basin) arrived and manuevered through the drawing room with his hand held out at his side "like a shark's fin." What a great image. Of course the couple didn't arrive together. She is furious about his infidelities, as naturally a proud duchesse would be. He is still handsome. Oriane and Basin. What a couple.

What a masterful writer! And how the Duchesse disses St. Loup's (her nephew's) mistress. It's interesting how we get various sides, wholly opposite of the mistress/actress. She is dumb. She is smart. She is pretty. She is ugly. She can act. She can't. Hmmm. What is going on here?

And good old Bloch is as clueless as ever, and we find out who Mme. Villeparisis love is, in a clever aside by the author.

I like it ever so much, and even if I only read a page or two (and who can claim to have raced through Proust?) it's well worth while.

I may take the book on vacation with me. A car trip, and therefore a thick hardcover is not such a liability.

So, children, I haven't posted because I tend my garden, and have begun a new novel, not what I expected to write, au contraire, and we had houseguests and dinner guests, and well, yanno, pretty soon the weeks have taken wing and here we are in eeek, August, the month of Vacances.

When all the Paris restaurants are ferme. Mon Dieu. But not Chicago restaurants. I noticed, in a persusal of the guidebook, that Chicago has many more French restaurants than Boston, where French cuisine is practically an endangered species. O.K., there's a few. Damn few. Boston is for seafood and Italian and whatever.

Of course the guidebook stated some pretty eye-popping prices. Better to be at the little evenings of the Verdurins, or better yet, much better, at Balbec on the beach, in the hotel dining room, at one's fixed table, and bicycling with the little band. Ah! Summer!


Friday, July 11, 2008

The Best Proust Birthday Present

This blogger (see link below) has a fab photo of madelines and a glass a wine, never mind the tea.

Hmmm. When I was an undergrad at a Texas school, we always referred to U of T students as "tea sips." This was a huge insult, and in fact when I hear someone ordering a soy latte with no caffeine, the word "tea sip" always comes to mind, as with any wimpy talk, like "I could never drink wine with lunch," eat, butter, bacon, fried food, strong coffee, any number of wimp-outs. Kierkegaard said, "Sin bravely."

Proust was no wimp either, in spite of his poor health. I think of him tramping around St. Loup's barracks, and through town and hiking along the paths of Balbec.

Here is the link to the Birthday Present. Cool blog, too.


Thursday, July 10, 2008

They're Still Summarizing Proust

Personally, I haven't ever tried to summarize Proust but I did write an English paper in my senior year which must have done some summarizing--Proust and time, what a topic--at 21 I was obsessed with time, duree (yeah, I know the apostrophe is missing) and all this terribly pretentious literary stuff.

Life was interesting in those days. But back to Proust, whose birthday was yesterday, by the way. Happy Birthday, Marcel, wherever you are.

Here is a link to an interesting post that links to some summaries of Proust on another website. This all started with the Monty Python All England Summarize Proust Contest, which was one of their classics. God, was that program great. Spam, spam, spam, baked beans, egg, tomato and spam. We quote from it all the time.


Maybe you should write your own summary.

Odette, no not that one!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Proust Errata

Blogging Proust in his various permutations.

Jacqui’s room: 15 Classics in 15 weeks.

What ambition. I am astounded. Can barely get through the newspapers and magazines that come into the house.

Proust for the 3rd Time. This is what I’m doing. Once as an undergrad, 15 years later as a suburban mom (no soccer) and now with grown children. Each age brings something to Proust. Now I’m enjoying his humor, which I totally missed the first two reads. How is this possible?

Seven Degrees of Separation from

Type in an author and see who else comes up. Weird names, for sure.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Blogging Proust

Photo is the beach at Biarritz

By now (July 5th) Marcel would be at Balbec with his grandmother, enjoying sun, sea and the girls in flower.

If you have a true Proust voracity, here are two blogs worthy of mention.

Proust and Penelope

Swann’s Way after 35 Years


Monday, June 30, 2008

Blogging Proust blogging Proust

Proust and the Self:

An essay about re-reading Proust some years later. I can relate to this, but not quite as literarily. Too long in Foxborough?

Proust is no Hemingway.

Mais non! Proust is Proust and Papa is Papa. They are as different as say, Proust and Kerouac, who really do have much in common. Hmmmm. This is actually another readable essay by someone who has tried Proust and failed, and is back again to scale the summit. Looks like he may succeed this time. God knows, I tried Moby Dick several times before succeeding, and War and Peace endless times. Then I picked it up and read it from cover to cover. Sometimes the reader is not ready for a work of literature, but this is not failure.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Another Food Blog

Haven't been reading Proust, barely reading the daily papers.

Here is a fellow Proust and food blogger. Oh to be in Balbec about now. Bet everyone runs around in white jeans and shorts and tiny tops and not a top hat to be seen.

Are the girls in flower riding their bikes along the esplanade? Is Albertine there? What's on the menu?


Saturday, June 21, 2008

Blogging Proust: the summer heats up

Proust Bloggers:

Wanting Peace: Proust at Last

McSweeney’s has a Proust parody that’s très amusant:

And Reading Proust has a trenchant comment about Balbec, where we’ve all summered at the seaside with Proust.

Moi? I'm still at the reception with the Duchesse de Guermantes. I'm the weirdly dressed one from the wrong century with American French looking around surreptitiously for the booze.



Friday, June 20, 2008

A Proust Geekout

Sigh! What a cool way to spend the day. Wish I'd been there. Read two pages last night from Mme. Villeparisi's endless reception.


Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Duchesse de Guermantes invites a poet to dinner

Back to Proust last night and the long section about the Duchesse of Guermantes and how she entertains.

Another example of Proustian humor which is so gentle, really and so wry and so understated that one possibly could read right over it which is what I did for years.

The Duchesse of Guermantes invites someone to dinner, telling him that a well-known poet has been invited and she knows he wants to meet the poet, etc. The dinner party takes place, and the poet is at the table, but the Duchesse talks about food, gardening, this and that and poetry is never, ever mentioned and the guest who wanted to meet the poet and get his opinion on the state of the art of poetry is out of luck. Like the elephant in the living room, is poetry at that party.

The implication is that the Duchesse thinks that in the interest of hospitality, maybe the poet would just like to eat dinner and take a break from talking about poetry.

The other implication is that the Duchesse is dominating the conversation with her blather about this and that and no one can get in a word edgewise.

If one envisions that dinner, the comic possibilities are endless.

I love Proust.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Reading Proust in Baghdad

In central Baghdad , as carp lolled in a circular pool, Al Faris Restaurant owner Haj Hashim said he now served fried fish to 10 or 12 tables of customers a night, up from only two tables a month ago.
A mile or so away, bookseller Jumaa Mohammed says sales of his newspapers and paperbacks have jumped 60 percent from early this year and 80 percent from a year ago. Now he boasts a table to display them. Before they were spread on the sidewalk.
Between their two establishments, bookstore owner Daoud Mohammed is proud to show his translations of Proust, Melville, Pasternak and Shakespeare. He does so in the dark: power is out again. He sells around 10 books a day, down from about 100 three years ago, but more than earlier this year.

This is quoted from Pat Dollard's blog which is normally not be on my radar. I would think life in Baghdad would not be conducive to reading Proust, but then maybe Proust is the ultimate escapist literature.

If you want one man's slanted view (surely all our views are slanted one way or another, n'est pas?) this is a link to the entire post.

The heat in Boston, but not Baghdad, has finally broken and I am off to the city today for lunch with a friend at the Barking Crab, far away from UID and car bombs.


Monday, June 09, 2008

More on YSL and Proust

From New York Magazine:

I think I've exhausted the subject. Interesting bits and pieces have scrambled out of the quagmire of gossip and fashion.

Proust with his dressing in lots of layers to stay warm , presumably, would not have been a fashion icon. Hate the word icon, the most overused and undeservedly used word in the language. Why did I use it? Merde. A fashion statement. That's better.


Saturday, June 07, 2008

Yves St. Lauren and me

It is mega-annoying when Blogger craps out in the middle of a post and there you are, with the links and the prose and the thoughts in your head--all vapor.

Here are some interesting links to funeral news and obits of YSL. All mention Proust and it’s almost as if Proust died again with him.

And now my own insignificant story. A newspaper article (most likely the NY Times) mentioned Laurent’s pumping new vigor into the Safari Suit. I remember I had one (not the designer’s) way back when. I put one on a character in The Shadow Warriors, in fact.

But this week, on a dark, rainy day, I pulled a linen safari blouse out of the ironing. Yes, readers, I am one of a handful of females who still iron. Napkins, handkerchiefs, towels, a few articles of clothing, and what have you.

The safari shirt/blouse is a bitch to iron with all the epaulet straps and garbage, but it’s kind of cool. Imagine my surprise (no, you absolutely cannot) when I saw in that newspaper article that in 2008 (this year!!!!) and 2007 (last year!!!) big name designers had touted safari clothing again, under the influence of YSL.

Which meant my long-in-the-tooth blouse was Au Courant. Who knew? So you may catch a glimpse of me flitting around Boston in black slacks and a safari blouse, or pale silk slacks and a safari blouse or even black jeans and a safari blouse.

And I am reading Proust again. After a month of thrillers and what have you, mostly written at third grade level (I am not making this up), Proust with his long sinuous sentences and subtle observations is a culture shock.

As ever,


Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Yves St. Laurent + Proust

So many of the YSL obituaries mention Proust, Proust as the only writer that could capture YSL's life, or that YSL lived a Proustian life. One does not often see those references these days. After all, how many of us live a life that is remotely Proustian in any aspect, except maybe for the gossip and the naughty bits. Not me, of course. No naughty bits at all. Boring.

Here is one example:

And another, just added:

Monday, June 02, 2008

Proust and Fortuny

Apparently Fortuny's technique has been lost and can't be recovered. Interesting, that with all our technology no one has figured it out.

In the meantime, here's food for thought. Albertine and the Duchesse of Guermantes both wear Fortuny. La di dah!

While we're on the topic of Fortuny, here is a link to the website:

Others are re-reading Proust like moi. I wish the blogger would change fonts and colors. Sometimes interesting blogs can be, alas, hard to read, font and colorwise.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Blogging Proust Blogging Proust

No hawthornes but an orange rhododendum. Lovely, n'est pas?

Blogging Proust Blogging Proust:
You read that right. I have often wondered whether Proust, if alive today, would blog.

Here is your answer, and the answer is . . . .

Loved it. Spoken thrice.

There is so much cool talent in the blogosphere.

Web Cowgirl's progress through Proust is putting me to shame.

Maybe a few summer afternoons of intensive reading. It's so lovely on our deck overlooking the slough with new flowers planted, the goldfinches visited the thistle seed feeder and the hummingbird making frequent trips to the red feeder full of sugar water. I've also planted lots of cool flowers the hummer will like, and blooms that will attract butterflies. We already have a host of dragonflies and soon (I hope) the bees will come for the oregano and other flowers. Wonder what oregano honey would taste like. Oregano? Hmmm.

Odette, who welcomes comments to this blog.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

To Read or Not To Read

Lately, the Proust blogosphere has been a great void, but today, well, voila!

And more:

We have just returned from Montreal where they no doubt read Proust in French, a task I would find extremely daunting, although I get along fine with menu,signage,etc. in French. Montreal is a rather romantic city, not Paris of course, but still exciting.

We took in the fantastic exhibit of Cuban art at the Fine Arts Museum. In the early days, when the Spanish influence was still pronounced in Cuba, all the painters studied in France or Italy, and were obviously influenced by what they found abroad, which they interpreted in strictly Cuban ways.

One can eat well in Montreal and also coming and going at the CIA in Monpelier and at Simon Pearce in Queechee. We had bistrot chicken cooked on the grill last night and it was merveilleuse.


Thursday, May 22, 2008

Reading Proust in Foxborough

This blog has a fair number of readers in countries outside the U.S., and for them and other far flung worshippers at the shrine of Proust, I'm posting a photo of the Foxborough village green.
Maybe I'll post a photo some time of the very famous Foxborough Stadium where the New England Patriots play football.
Foxborough is an old Massachusetts town that had a foundry where cannon balls were made during the revolutionary war. Then it became famous for making straw hats. The Foxboro company, now mostly known as Invensys, is the largest business in town these days. We have new shopping and the town is always changing.
I frequently blog about the herd of Scottish Highland Cattle that live around the corner from us. We also hear a rooster crow, and a slough and wetlands are behind the house, so Foxborough is still quite rural.

Taking Proust to Montreal

I'm trekking to Montreal to see the Cuban art exhibit, something that is hard to find in the states. I mentioned this to a friend who had actually been in Cuba, and she said she didn't remember seeing any art, which is odd, as she is a painter.

So we'll see what we see.

Would Proust like it? Who knows?

A small mention of Proust in this article:

And more yet still:

And of course Web CowGirl always has something interesting to say about Proust. I just have a few more pages of a thriller to read before I return to the kinder, gentler world of Marcel. Come to think of it, it's not kinder at all, but the violence is psychological, not physical.


Sunday, May 18, 2008

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A Gentle Proustian Joke

Ye gods, what fun. Our Marcel is a bit sly, and I love him. Now I have to get back to reading him.


Odette, back from Northern Nevada which is very unProustian

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

One of These Days

Hawthorne's from Wikipedia: aren't they lovely?

I have been so negligent, so lah-di-dah, so really bad about my Proust reading. It began when I went to Florida end of February and I'm still in a non-reading state. Leaving for Northern Nevada tomorrow, and don't want to carry the heavy volume on the plane. There is also the fact that I'm not that far from the final passages of volume 2, and it's not a book I would want to leave behind. Just can't bring myself to schlepp Proust.

New blog ideas: Schlepping Proust to Nevada; Leaving Proust on the Nightstand; My Nights Without Proust,The Absence of Proust.

Dunno. I need to get back into it. Proust seems to require a soupcon of leisure and quiet-mindedness which I haven't had. Maybe soon.

Damn! And I just know the hawthornes are in bloom somewhere.


Thursday, May 01, 2008

Madame Proust

Some Proust blogs/articles/etc. of interest today. I wonder if the Hawthorne's are blooming. Always wanted to try to grow them, but I never did.

Some notes on Proust's family life

And a review of the excellent bio, Madame Proust.

Odette who has been ultra-busy this month with this and that.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Proust Society Meets in Brooklyn

I don't know if "guests" are welcome, so call ahead.

This would look to be a fun and instructive meeting, depending on your definition of fun.

I spent all weekend at The Muse and The Marketplace in Boston, wallowing in literary stuff. Jonathan Franzen was the banquet speaker, and there were mentions of Joyce, Eliot, Rilke, and other luminary lights. Nobody talked about Proust, but it would have been at least theoretically possible, and of course I only sat in on 6 of 36 groups, so maybe someone did mention Marcel. Lovely lunch in the Old Parker House in downtown Boston. I ate some Parker House rolls, but no Boston Cream Pie. The event was sponsored by Grub Street.

As usual, women outnumbered men by about 5 to one.

Maybe this week I'll get back to Proust. In the meantime, I am reading The Corrections.


Friday, April 25, 2008

Proustian Moments

A poem for your reading pleasure. Love the title of this blog, "the number of cigarettesismokedtoday." I suppose that only a former smoker can appreciate . Certainly not a never-smoker. Imagine being a never-smoker. They are missing something from life, the pleasure of cigarettes, the torture of giving them up, the pride in having done so, the nicotine dreams that haunt your life.

Another poetic Proust blog. It must be spring.
Sometimes the photograph is what we need; sometimes the painting, sometimes both, maybe neither, if the imagination is glorious.


Saturday, April 19, 2008

Murder Chez Proust

Who knew? It's been a week since I've posted--my bad and all that tripe. To Atlanta and back, some workouts, meetings, getting caught up. I read two books, both about children who disappeared. City of the Sun and What the Dead Know. Very different, both good. Laura Lippman is such a good writer.

Now back to Proust. I saw this post and have been unaware of Murder Chez Proust, apparently an "academic mystery." Big discussion recently on the listserve DorothyL about academic mysteries. Shades of Gaudy Night.

This is the link:

Promising to post like crazy when she comes up for air.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Proust, the summing up

A blogger has completed the long masterpiece:

Friday, April 04, 2008

Book of a Lifetime: Katie Hickman Read Proust

Here is the link to her newspaper column.

I liked what she said about Proust readers being an enthusiastic but democratic group. The more I learn, the more amazing how wide-spread, far-flung and democratic we are.

Maybe there should be a Proust handshake, or a Proust greeting? No, that would be too kludgy, to use an IT term, but it bothers me a bit to think I may be meeting people and not realize they are also Proust fans. It's not an easy thing to drop into a casual conversation.

"Ready any Proust, lately?"
The normal comeback might be "Huh?"

And I do remember the Duchesse de Guermantes red shoes. Isn't it cool how Proust really individuated some many characters? The Guermantes humor? Francoise, Charlus, the narrator's father?

One can go on and on. Even the waiter in Balbec.

Love it.



Wednesday, April 02, 2008

A Fantastic Proust Post

Sometimes one can troll the 'Net for weeks and find nothing original or of interest, and some days you hit pay dirt. This was one of those days. I found the post below so interesting. Proust and Football. Who would have thunk it?

If you don't read anything else today, read this:

Regretfully, my own Proust reading has hit a bad spell, what with helping someone in the household recover from surgery, etc. I am doing his chores, my chores, and a whole passel of extra chores. The good part is I've lost 3 pounds, running around and esp. up the stairs 30 times a day. Who knew?

Spring cometh to Foxborough and the goldfinches are on the feeder and they are even gold, not winter drab. The spring peepers began their sweet but noisy chorus last night. We had a damp warm day yesterday, and the suet and thistle seed I put out (his chore) found favor with the flocks.

Until next week, Marcel,

Votre Lecteur


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Tout Le Monde is Blogging Proust

The Inkblotter At the King’s English has some thoughtful remarks about Swann’s Way and the Grandmother. It’s always great to find a new Proust blog.

On the Road to Library School: where would we be without libraries? And Proust? And checking Proust out of the library?

This writer really can summarize Proust, and he summed up Swann’s Way very nicely.
Don’t you wish everyone could be so terse, yet eloquent?

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Parsing Proust Through Sentence Diagrams

Sailor John tackles not only Proust but the diagramming of important sentences. I tell you, no way would I tackle a sentence diagram. In high school, we spent endless hours doing it. I hated it, but later came to understand that taking apart a sentence into its various parts of speech gave me a pretty good understanding of sentences. But Proust, yikes!

Friday, March 21, 2008

A Proust Reader "Thinks It Through"

I discovered someone who is just about at the same spot in Proust that I am, maybe a few pages ahead, but not much.

Good luck and perseverance to him (?) while we journey on toward that unbelievable ending. Proust's ending was stupendous and it did not disappoint.

Most of my reading now is background for the novel I am beginning which is set in 1928 Southern California. I am reading Upton Sinclair's Oil which the award-winning film, There Will Be Blood was based on. It's very good. First Sinclair book I've read, obviously an important omission.

But Proust remains on my nightstand and is given his due. Just not a race to the finish, no, no.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Reading Proust Again

Still working my way through the ways and wiles and sorrows of Madame de Villeparisis. Our narrator is at her reception with Bloch and the term "bluestocking" is in use. I wonder what the original French word was.

Lots of talk about rising and falling in society, with veiled speculation that the fallen ladies are perhaps just that, those who in their youth committed indiscretions that can't be forgiven. This topic of the social fall of Mme. Villeparisis and three of her cronies has been going on for page after page. Nonetheless, it's interesting, and Proust remarks that if she were "in society," she wouldn't have time for her memoirs and the social lions or course are too busy at dinner parties and balls and receptions to have time for memoir, so in this case, history is written, so to speak, by the loosers, not the victors. How subtle of Proust to have noticed that. The man is a genius.

From Wikipedia: Bluestocking
Bluestocking is a disparaging term, no longer in common use, for an educated, intellectual woman. 'Bluestocking' may also refer to:
Bluestockings (bookstore)
Bluestockings Journal
Blue Stockings Society (England), a women's movement based on the French movement

Monday, March 17, 2008

Proust and Debelief

The blogger below exhibits wonderment that Proust's work exists at all. The massive task, the writing and thought and rewriting and trying to get it right. It took most of his life, and in his last years he holed up in his cork-lined room and wrote and wrote.

The discipline that took, from a person who had not formerly exhibited any particular discipline. Proust, we salute you.


Saturday, March 15, 2008

Letters from a Librarian

This blog just mentions Proust with respect to the "little phrase" of Vinteiul, but what a lovely blog. The illustrations are so wonderful. I was somehow envious of anyone standing in line for an espresso and thinking literary thoughts, so different from my pedestrian life in Foxborough.

Read down for the Proust mention.

State Street, another cool blogger, has picked up Proust, seamlessly, after a long absence. That is the thing with Proust--he's like imagining an old lover with whom you reconnect and there's no sense of having been away for long. In a sense, Proust is always the old lover, waiting in the wings, to reconnect. A jealous impossible lover, except for the prose, the lovely prose, but I do ramble.

Friday, March 14, 2008

How Proust Can Change Your Life

Inexcusable really, to have dribbled off on my posting. The blogs lately have not inspired, and I've been catching up on magazines after being away for a week. Working on three novels and a short story. Cooking up a storm. Working out. Brushing the cat. Reading about Eliot Spitzer. Well, you know. Making travel plans.

Life intrudes on blogging. Started yet another blog entitled The Cheeseparer. Blogging is thinking aloud.

Anyway, here is the one blog I found worthy of mention:

The copy of Proust on my nightstand gently reproaches. I promise to do better next week. We have been eating some French food, however. Does that count? Non? I thought not.



Friday, March 07, 2008

Lydia Davis on Proust

Here is the link:

I haven't returned to Proust Mode since back from Florida. Davis is referring, I believe, to the narrator's seeing the Duchesse de Guermantes in church at Combray.

In the part of the book I am reading, he is living in the same building and frequently stalking (what we would now call it) the Duchesse, who seems to find him annoying like a mosquito that buzzes around one's head.

I wonder if anyone has catagloged all the examples of unrequited love in Proust. Yikes! The list would be endless, beginning with Swann and on through the dramatic personnae. Is there any requited love? I shall have to look. Perhaps the painter and his wife. Oh, can't remember for sure.

I do hope to engage the narrator again soon. Perchance ce soir?


Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Proust wrote a novel not a memoir

Proust used his life to write his novel, and a novel is fiction. It's unfortunate that writers and agents and editors can't seem to get this straight. These faux-memoirs would be written as novels, probably wonderful novels, if the literary establishment and the public responded to the fictionalized story as strongly as they do to so-called memoir. And so we tut-tut over the literary scandals and messes which surfaced this week, not one but three!

Ernest Hemingway stated that "All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened." This understanding, alas, seems to be lost.

I'm glad that Proust had enough sense to know the difference between fiction and memoir and to write his great novel instead of his "memories." All his memories are in the novel, shaped and honed to perfection. How clever and insightful he is.

For more information of the latest literary scandals (and Proust loved nothing better than a good gossip) read here:

Monday, February 25, 2008

Snobbery Then and Now

Reading in Proust (The Guermantes Way) last night about the trials of Mme. Villeparisis and how she fell in society due to a neglect of the niceties, shall we say, and when she wanted to make her way back up the ladder to the top, the rungs were no longer accessible.

Snobbery tried and failed to rule on Jane Austen last night, as Pride and Prujudice and love triumphed.

I suppose we will always have snobbery. Right now, people look down on the new McMansions. Some suburbs are better. The right car, the right summer home, the right this, the right that, and above all the right school. The right shoes, handbag. It goes on and on. We are just as bad as Proust's or Austen's snobs. New money, old money.

Or as my very snobby (Mother was DAR, he likes to sail with the "right" people, i.e. the New York Yacht Club) friend said, when I talked about Burning Man. "I wouldn't have anything to saw to those people." Burners? You can say anything to Burners.

Ohmigod, the right yacht club, the destination wedding, the right table in the right restaurant even, if you write, the right genre.

I am a snob, too. I look down on people with no books in their houses, people who eat takeout 24/7 and people who drive enormous black SUV's. So there.

I'm leaving for a writing conference. Not taking Proust. Instead, I am taking a novel called Pasadena. I'll be back in a week, with a week's worth of Proust blogs, should there be any of interest, and there usually are.

I will be able to give a blow by blow of writer's snobberies. Chacun a son gout. Sorry for the lack of the proper French accents. I have never figured them out for Blogger except to cut and paste from word and that is just too tedious.


Saturday, February 23, 2008

La Vie en Proust

Every now and then I find a post that is so perfect it has to be shared.

Nathan Hondros knows Proust. He has a wonderful post. It makes me happy to read it.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Saluting "Madeline Moments"

Another Proust blogger has an anniversary. A thoughtful, informative blog you should read.

She is offering a contest with a "real" prize.

Odette (speaking here) is still reading about Rachel and St. Loup. As with Swann, one wants to slap St. Loup on the side of his head for wasting his time and money on such a gold digger.

On the other hand, did young women have any legitimate way to earn money back then? Besides marrying well? Maybe we should walk a mile in their moccasins. I am of two minds. Proust, too, seems to waver on the topic of Rachel. This makes literature good, the ability to see both sides of a conflicted character. And all the characters in Proust are conflicted. We like that.


Friday, February 15, 2008

Rachel from the Lord

The past two evenings I've been reading about St. Loup and the mistress that he loves so much, the mistress that he wants to support in great expensive style by making an "advantageous" marriage.

Marcel, and thus the reader, finally meet the young lady (?) in question, who lives outside of Paris in a rather shabby little banlieu. Marcel is rather horrified to discover that the mistress is none other than Rachel, a former prostitute who would do anything with anyone for 20 Louis.

St. Loup suspects, rightly I think, that Rachel doesn't really love him so much as the money and jewels he provides her with.

Do we see a pattern here? Do we see Swann? Odette was a courtesan, too. Odette never loved Swann, who married here and could never be received into polite society again with his wife.

Proust notes that St. Loup would marry Rachel but once the marriage was a fait accompli, St. Loup suspects that Rachel would not be as devoted as when there are no legal bindings and he can dump her at any time without repercussions.

There are echoes of Marcel's love for Gilberte, and even the Duchesse of Guermantes, unrequited love. Is any love requited in Proust? Jealousy rears it's yellow head. And a shadowing of Marcel and Albertine. This is just too delicious.

Now what is also interesting, is that Rachel isn't really all that "common," as one would expect. She can hold her own in literary discussions, in fact can't wait to chat with Marcel about certain subjects. She has common friends, who call to her to join them for a day in Paris before they realize she has St. Loup in tow, friends whom she does not snub.

In other words, although she was a common whore, and still appears to be venal, Rachel is treated rather sympathetically. I find this intriguing. It would have been so easy for Proust in the person of Marcel to dismiss her completely, and he does not. After all, the over-infatuated St. Loup must see something in her.

It's all very intriguing, and I had forgotten all about St. Loup's mistress.


Monday, February 11, 2008

Remembrance of a Proust Lecture

Oops! The lecture has come and gone. Not likely I would have come all the way from Foxborough. Once, in the depths of a Chicago winter very much like the current one (cold, cold, cold), I dragged my significant other through the snow to a lecture at Northwestern University about Proust.

My god, was it cold!

The professor said we should all read Proust. And I came home and did. From cover to cover.

And here I am again, years later. Sort of bogged down with the Duchess of Guermantes and the narrator's not very subtle (today we would call it stalking) arranging to run into her on her walks and business about town. Just reading the magazines and newspapers that come into the house is daunting, and then there's the books. But I am making progress.

Oh yes! The lecture:

Isn't he handsome in a European professorial kind of way? I have a Frenchman in my latest novel, Festival Madness, which I'll start flogging soon.



Sunday, February 03, 2008

Not Reading Proust In Foxborough

Today is dedicated to the New England Patriots (who play in Foxborough) and their quest for a perfect season.

Found another Proust blogger who will keep you entertained. Love the blogger's graphics. Chasing down Proust blogs is almost as much fun as reading Proust and one finds some extremely interesting people.

here it is:

I'm going to fix some superbowl food. See photo above. Superbowl food should be muscular, not wimp food.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

And Yet Another Proust Blogger

John has joined the "little clan" of Proust bloggers. Actually it's a movement.

His comparison of violent movies to Proust's work is interesting. Something I would have not thought of.

Last night I made good progress through The Guermantes Way, with St. Loup still at Doncierres and his troubles with his mistress and the Dutchess having a painting by Elstir. In Proust there's hardly any degrees of separation. Interesting that the mistress is not some air head but rather intellectual. Who knew? But that, of course, if St. Loup.

Doesn't Proust have great characters? The mark of a great writer is not the plots but the characters.


Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Guermantes Way

Fear not, Odette hasn't abandonned Proust. She is still plugging away at The Guermantes Way, enjoying how Marcel tries to fool Francoise and can't, especially enjoying the visit to the town of Doncierre and the barracks and St. Loup's life and friends there. The back and forth about St. Loup's cousin, the Duchesse of Guermantes, is rather comic.

St. Loup is such a sympathetic character and he has all these problems with his mistress and being a Dreyfusard, and he's so genuinely fond of Marcel. One gets a real sense of the military town and it's good to be outside of Paris and also away from the seaside and Balbec where we spent ever so much time.

So I am liking this volume a lot, although the evening at the opera and Berma seems to go on forever, but the reader is learning about French society, and Proust really takes you there, to Balbec, to Combray, to the opera, everywhere. Of course, nothing much ever happens until it happens, so the suspense is minimal and the conflict is mostly internal.

It's interesting how many of us there are, reading Proust in the year 2008 with all the other possibilities, computer games, movies, IPOD,the net, work,sports, so much stuff, so little time and yet we read Proust.



My Own Proustian Moment

At my work out this week, the music began with Nel Blu, Dipinto di Blu (Volare) by Domenico Modugno.

A whole Proustian cloud of memories came percolating out of the speakers. The song was already old, but my first real memory of hearing it was in Aurora, Colorado playing water Frisbee in the swimming pool of somebody’s apartment house. I was a college student , and the party was one of those crazy affairs where everyone collapsed of tiredness and drunkenness about 3:00 a.m. and slept where they fell. It was a good song for water Frisbee, and the next morning I volunteered to make scrambled eggs for the remaining celebrants. Odette did not always know her way around the kitchen. In those days she didn’t cook at all, and she didn’t know you had to put a little butter or oil in the skillet to cook eggs. Yuck! Said eggs had to be scraped off the bottom of the skillet.

Flash forward a few years to San Remo Italy and my first trip to Europe as a very young bride. By then Volare was even longer in the tooth. We had changed hotels from the Londres to a modern sort of Scandinavian place a few blocks from the beach. All night long we heard Volare, again and again and again.

The next morning at breakfast, ye gods, there was Domenico Modugno himself in the dining room, and he was having a beer for breakfast. In all the wild parties I’d ever attended, no one had drunk beer for breakfast. Later at the Frankfurt Bahnhof (train station), I came to realize that beer is not an uncommon European male breakfast beverage.

Make beer your breakfast beverage. Haven’t seen that advertising campaign yet. So the song just rolled all those years (and by now they are quite a few) back and I was a college student splashing in the pool and an American girl in her first bikini strolling the beach in San Remo.We either ate at a restaurant on the beach or at a nice bustling trattoria in town or sometimes at night in a pizza place by the Orthodox Cathedral. When we first arrived, we ate at the Londres, but that was too boring. Lots of old folks, no doubt. It was the kind of place where you had the same napkin all week.

At the beach restaurant I first realized pasta was not a main course but a first course. In town for the first time I ate melon with prosciutto and melon with port wine. By the cathedral, we tasted Italian pizza for the first time. It wasn’t actually as good as American pizza. Who knew?

Volare! Hey Proust, how about them apples?

Friday, January 18, 2008

Still Reading Proust in Foxborough

I took a look at Web Cowgirl's Blog today and what a fantastic collection of Proust links she had. Spent 'way too much time this morning, time when I should have been writing, looking at them.

So here they are:

I have an idea. Why don't we all jump on a plane and fly to Paris and eat at the old bistros and visit the cemetery and find all the Belle Epoche spots and maybe buy some books along the Left Bank and eat and drink ourselves sick and dip down to the Riviera to recharge our batteries and nip over to Venice and look at the bridges and the churches and the city and then come home sated with Proust, and adventure and life?

What? No time, no money, no energy? Sigh. Me neither. But what a pretty thought!
Still plugging along on The Guermantes.


Thursday, January 10, 2008

Proust Cookbook

Blogger lost my post again.

The cookbook is here, with all the expected Belle Epoque recipes and some unexpected dishes such as Beef Stroganoff and ravioli. Who knew?

The pineapple/truffle salad is dressed in a vinaigrette. My palette is experiencing difficulties imagining this, but the vinaigrette was a vrai vinaigrette, with the proper proportions of oil and vinegar. So the salad sounds better now that I know how it was made. When we hit the lottery, I'll try it.

Looking at the recipes made me recall some fancy dinner parties from the seventies when I was young and energized. The complicated recipes, the long dresses, everything just so, all as gone as the Belle Epoque.


Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Reading Proust in Foxborough

Blogger just lost my last post. Happens at least once a week. I am having modem problems---arrrgh, hate all these technical issues.

I read in The Guermantes Way last night, about Francois and her shenanigans. Such a great character, with her moods, and the sacrosanct servants meal and all the craziness in the new neighborhood. Proust is at his best sometimes with his sharp but gentle humor. Not all students read only what is assigned. I thought he brings up good points about Swann's Way and how Swann and Marcel mirror each other, and of course that happens even more so once Albertine comes on the scene.

Stay warm. Stay dry. I hope you have an excellent reading lamp and a bottle of something delicious to sip.


Monday, January 07, 2008

Web Cowgirl Reads Proust

It is incredibly cool to find technical people with a bookmark somewhere in Lost Time. Web Cowgirl is another one of us plugging away at Proust.

Or am I the only plugger and everyone else is skimming along like it's a cozy novel that you start at 9:00 and finish at 11:00? Agatha Christie was like it. About 2 or 2 1/2 hours of a quick read.

Right now I am reading Sarah Winnemucca, a biography of a Paiute from Northern Nevada. The problem with this biography is that it is so heartbreaking I have to stop from time to time to avoid a complete meltdown.

I just finished Donald Maass' How to Write the Breakout Novel, which is edifying and something Proust learned instinctively. How did you do that, Marcel? I am also reading Jeff Herman's 2008 book about finding a publisher or a literary agent, again something Proust didn't need or maybe he did.

This bumbling around trying to get published is, well, the word is "painful." I don't "do" pain well. There are no drugs one can ingest to dull this pain. Well, I suppose booze and illegal substances, but they probably make it worse, don't you think? Why did so many writer's drink? Good writers? But not our narrator. He just locked himself in the corklined room and wrote. My admiration knows no bounds.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

German Proust Blogger

Here is the link. If you page down, an English translation appears.

One of the greatest passages in world literature.


Saturday, January 05, 2008

Reading Proust Requires Peace and Quiet

Reading Proust requires concentration, peace and quiet, and a little time for contemplation. I suppose a hunting blind will do, but the blogger below was not so fortunate:

Publications such as People, or USA Today can be perused anyplace, but Proust, ah, you will need silence and solitude, and then the reading can go really well. That is the reason I have been so slow, sometimes the silence and the solitude don't coincide with the "mood" and then time passes, lost time, to be sure, and whatchagonnado?

With all of our devices and need for distraction, this delicious solitude may be hard to find.
Try harder.