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.

http://deweyorotherwise.wordpress.com/ 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 http://webcowgirl.livejournal.com/1404525.html 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.