Monday, December 26, 2011

Re-reading Proust in Paris

An Apple guru reads and re-reads and then reads some more?  Technical manuals?  Nope, Proust.  How cool is that?  And in the original French.  My college French never reached that level.   Camus?  Oui.  Proust?  Non.

This is an interesting essay for us Proust afficionados.   Take a look.  Thoughts on Reading Proust Again

The author is right.  Proust is not difficult.   Lots of characters, but after a few reads they're like old friends.  Long sentences and no dialog tags?  Check, but one gets used it this.  I am still reading about Albertine living in Marcel's family apartment in Paris and going out every afternoon to do what?  The narrator thinks the lady is up to no good.  He's probably right.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

In Search of "Good Reads"

Good Reads,  a web site for book lovers has a discussion devoted to Marcel Proust.  Who knew?   I never realized they were into anything except current fiction and non-fiction.  The site can be hard for a newbie to navigate, but here is the link to the Proust discussion.  Marcel Proust and Good Reads                

ISOLT is, of course, In Search Of Lost Time.  Explore Good Reads

Onward with Proust.         

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Found a new (to me) Proust book.  It looks interesting, although I am always a bit suspicious of academic writing with its long (sometimes tedious) sentences and big words, but let's not make an apriori (ha! ha!) judgement, because the book does seem readable.  Reading Proust at Oxford

The book is actually about reading in Proust.  Reading Reading Proust at Oxford? How circuitous!

I am still reading about Marcel and the sleeping Albertine.  Marcel isn't reading; he is watching.  Is Albertine  like a princess who will awaken from a kiss?  Albertine is a very human girl with faults and tics.  I can perfectly understand why she lies all the time.  She probably never envisioned the (somewhat) creepy household and practically being a captive in it.  Granted, a captive in good clothes.  She has very little life.  Or does she?  The narrator is obsessed with her, suspecting her of lesbianism, but then he suspects everyone.  One gets the idea that everyone in Paris is at least bi-sexual.  Maybe they were.  What do I know? 

Suspicions and imagination run rampant in the narrator's mind.  That's what happens to a writer.  He can't stop imagining.  What if?  

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Albertine Sleeping

I just read the section of  Proust where he goes on for pages about watching Albertine sleep.  Very lyrical and touching, really.   Albertine is still mysterious to me, and also to the narrator.  But one can see her in Balbec with her jaunty cap and nose in the air on her bike.   Those girls who he found so fetching, and now one is asleep in his bed.  This is a wonderful passage. 

Reading a bit of Proust off and on before bedtime.  Albertine comes and goes.  He refuses to accompany her but he is suspicious of her errands.   He consults the Duchess for clothing ideas for his mistress.  What a crazy life.                        

Happy Thanksgiving to my readers who celebrate Thanksgiving, and if you don't, well, pause a minute and consider your blessings:  relatives, friends, hearth, work, hobbies, nature, sports, whatever gives you succor and pleasure.



Friday, October 28, 2011

Proust and Dreyfus

Last night in my reading, the Duke and Duchesse of Guermantes were at loggerheads because she was a Dreyfusard and he was not, and be blamed her politics for his not being named president of The Jockey Club.  Here is a link to a letter from Proust on the topic of Dreyfus, a very divisive period in French political/military history.

Proust and Dreyfus 

The Duchesse de Guermantes has a wardrobe full of Fortuny dresses which she says would be suitable for Albertine.  Lucky girl.  

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Albertine Ensconced in Marcel's Family Apartment In Paris

So one is reading along and eveything is pretty much as usual . . . Mme. Verdurin and her parties and who's in and who's out and Marcel mentions Vintieul and Albertine mentions that she know his sister and her friend! 

If you read Proust you know that this is powerful and unwelcome news.  Marcel hightails it away from Balbec and back to not-so-gay-Paree faster than you can utter "Le petite phrase."   He's got to get Albertine away from those bad women. 

At last a little action, and I segue from The Cities of the Plain into The Captive.   Now the Duchesse de Guermantes is recommending clothes  for the young lady, and mama  and Francoise are tut-tutting, and Marcel doesn't go out.  What are things coming to?

Movement in fiction is a good thing.   Albertine is first described on her bicycle.  That Proust guy knew a thing or two, didn't he?    

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Follow ProustTweet on Twitter

Proust's entire novel is in the process of being tweeted on twitter.  Of course some of Proust's sentences are much longer than the tweet space.  Can the tweeter cope?  Follow and see.  Sometimes I wish I were so clever.  No, I always wish I were just a little bit cleverer. 

Marcel Proust

@ProustTweet Combray, France
Proust's entire 7-volume novel rewritten as a series of spontaneous daily tweets. (Previous Tweets available at )

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Jennifer Egan read Proust

I was in the audience today at the Boston Book Festival, when Jennifer Egan talked about reading Proust.  Apparently she, like many, had tried and failed once Swann and Odette had married and gone on to more domestic scenarios.  She actually read Proust with a book group and IT TOOK THEM FIVE YEARS!  She said five babies were born in  the years the group read Proust.  But they finished.  It is taking me about that long on my 3rd reading, because life intervenes and I had to stop and read about Spain to prep for a trip to that fabulous country. 

Egan also mentioned that Proust's thoughts about time influenced her Pulitzer Prize novel, A Visit From the Goon Squad.  

The Festival enjoyed glorious if windy fall weather, but not yesterday's pounding rain.  Copley Square teemed with readers, writers, publishers and all those who are part of the business of writing and books.  Unfortunately,  there was only one food vendor, and man does not lived by grilled cheese alone.  Last time I went by, there must have been two hundred people in line.  The sparrows in the park were out in force to scrounge for treats, as were the pigeons.  The way the pigeons wheeled around and took flight reminded me of the pigeons swooping around the Parador in Carmona.  Spain had many doves, too, and swallows and some handsome magpies which I haven't seen for years.  Pigeons seem to have a collective flock instinct that I find interesting.

The suburban trains in both directions were crowded, unusual for a Saturday.  Nothing like the little train that took the dinner guests to the Verdurins.    Pigeons may exhibit the same behavior, but trains schlepping folks into Boston have nothing in common with the Verdurin's little band.

I will be reading Proust again hoping to get through Sodom and Gommorah before winter cometh.                                                                                    

Have you ever had "a visit from the goon squad?"

The Other Odette                                               

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Proust Week

 Here in Foxborough, not far from the Massachusetts coastline, we are preparing for Hurricane Irene.  However neither storm nor earthquake  can keep us from Proust, who received his own share of PR this week. 

First, there was a description with photos of the famous Cork Lined Room.  A Visit To The Cork Lined Room .  Fortunately, the blogger took time to sample some restaurants.  Proust would approve. 

Next, there's a  Proust meetup in L.A.  How cool is that?  Marcel would be intrigued.  I Love Proust in LA.   Unfortunately, Foxborough is too far away from Tinseltown to make it practical or economical to join the group, alas. 

Next, some sad news.  The director of "Time Regained,"  Raul Ruiz has died.  He just had a new movie out too.   Raul Ruiz dies

Your faithful correspondent has been reading Proust again, still in Balbec and La Raspelier, and the humor is lovely and subtle and I am enjoying it ever so much.  Proust is so sly and so witty.  

The Other Odette

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Proust Summarized on YouTube

I had to idea.  Thought the Monty Python folks were the only ones with temerity to summarize Proust (they failed), but here is another go at it.  Proust Summarized on YouTube   Take a look.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Proust on film

I saw the dramatization of Proust's last "book" in Cambridge, MA several years ago.  Catherine Deneuve played Odette, a casting that would never have occurred to me.  The film was quite good. There were no car chases, no explosions, no blood and gore, and I don't think there was a seventeen year old in the house.  Just a hushed, reverent audience. 

Here is a link to an NYTimes article about the man who created the film. A Mild Mannered Maniac

The last volume of the great tome is, to my mind, the best, and I found the great denouement utterly thrilling. 

The Other Odette

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Funniest Man in Paris

The humor in Proust is always surprising and sometimes barbed but often rather diffident.  I totally missed it in my first two passes through the great Oeuvre.  Here is a blogger who didn't miss a thing.  The Verdurins certainly come in for their share of having fun poked at them.  Jeez, sometimes you really have to jump through hoops to avoid ending a sentence with a preposition.

The Funniest Man in Paris

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Eating Madelines in Seattle

Or how about a petite madeline with a cuppa tea in Paris?  On the subject of madelines, I must confess that I've had the molds for ever so long, but have yet to screw up my courage to actually make some.  I think this is because I read a recipe saying you must only make enough batter to fill the madeline molds in one baking session, because the batter absolutely did not keep for a second batch an hour or so later.

Seemed like a difficult task with  a high rate of failure.  One of these days I'll throw caution to the wind and whip up a batch.  Take a photo.  Let you know how they are.  I do not expect a Proustian experience, no that would come with my grandma's fried chicken or tomatoes from the garden.  Maybe her strawberry jam.   It would only be something my grandma cooked.  She never used a recipe and her short pudgy fingers moved so deftly, whether she was making bread or flouring a frying chicken.

Here is the article from the Seattle paper.  And many of us have read Proust, multiple times, in English and French and for all I know maybe Croation.  Eating Madelines with Proust in Seattle

Friday, June 24, 2011

Sleeping With Proust - Or Not

Last night, tired after returning from a literary soiree, I headed to bed early, and discovered my trusty Kindle was still downstairs, as was the book we bought at the party.  And this week's New Yorker.  Grrrr.

Good old Proust was still on the nightstand, with its (perhaps) mouse-nibbled cover.  I remembered that I had left off at the Verdurin's dinner party at Raspelier, over-looking the coast and not far from Balbec where Proust often spent part of the summer.  This is Cities of the Plain.

Charlus prefers strawberry juice to  orangeade, both homemade by Madame Verdurin's esteemed cook, no doubt.  By the way he makes his choice, the narrator notes the Baron's preference for men over woman and speculates that he's a woman in a man's body.  Wow!  Was Proust ever ahead of his time!   Transgender stuff.  The Baron goes on to make a fool of Madame Verdurin, not a terribly difficult thing to do.  She's such a fraud and a social climber and manipulative to the max, one of these great characters that we love to hate.  I nodded off after a half-dozen pages, which I would have done with even the most hair-raising thriller, so don't blame Proust.  Tired is tired.  And I like it ever so much.   I am tempted to get Proust on the Kindle, too.  

If you are a Proust scholar (I am not, alas)  or  take an interest in literary studies, I have the monograph for you.

Back in the day, when I had perhaps ambitions to be a scholar, I would have dived into this.   At least Proust and I are in synch in that it is summer in Balbec and summer in Foxborough, although the rains and cool weather are more spring-like.  The calendar says summer.  Now do I want Orangeade or Strawberry Juice?  Hmmmm. 

Odette, the Other One

Monday, June 06, 2011

Pondering Proust in Montgomeryville, PA

A newspaperman in Montgomeryville, PA found a great column piece when he ordered a little package of madelines at the local coffee shop. Ya just never know!

Proust Inspires a Column  

I did like his answers to the quiz, which normally I don't, but these had the right amount of insouciance. 

Odette, the other one

Friday, May 27, 2011

Proust in The Park and the Proust Support Group

Some nice photos and observations:

  Proust in the Park 

And if you live near Venice, no not THAT Venice, you may want to join the Proust Support Group.

  Proust Support Group

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Proust Anecdote

Good morning, readers!  It's 10:55 a.m. in Foxborough, and for the first time in weeks, the sun is shining.  I got so excited I cooked steak and eggs for breakfast, hoping that will see us through the day.  The orange cat is patrolling the house, hoping to sneak out and bag a chipmunk or two.
 The Huffington Post review of the new movie that premiered at the Cannes Film Festival (Tree of Life) has a fun Proust anecdote.  Read down a few paragraphs and you'll find it.  Movie sounds wonderful.  How often can one actually say that?

Me?  I am trying to catch up on this season's Treme, which is so good, and I love the multiple story lines that converge and diverge.  Kind of like Proust. 

I'm almost finished with my Traveler's Tales of Spain book, and ready to dive into the narrator's problems again, and everyone is at Balbec, so the reading will even be seasonal.  

Here is the link: 

Fun Proust Anecdote 


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Reading Proust in Minneapolis

Proust has done it again!  He's listed in the top 10 books of all time.   These are all novels except for one short story collection, by the way, and the list has strengthened my resolve to read Middlemarch,  the only book on the list I haven't read. I'm finishing a book of Traveler's Tales of Spain, as we are visiting there before the end of the year.

It's been a week for azaleas and rhododendrons (not hawthorns) here in Massachusetts.  Rains every day and we see the sun only rarely.  Today, as least was warm and I was able to weed the garden.   The narrator would still be bundled up in coats and scarves.  Perhaps I put the winter coats, gloves and scarves away prematurely.   

 Here is the link to the best books:

Top 10 Books of All Time


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Fortuny and Proust Revisted

Fortuny Dress
Photographe à Dublin  has reminded me  of the relationship  of Fortuny and Proust.  A Google search has provided the following links.  Google is actually supposed to be sending me Proust links, but the well has dried up lately and my reading of Proust has been temporarily suspended due to lots of projects at home and an upcoming trip to Spain and Portugal which requires some in depth reading about those two countries.  The nice thing about Proust is that you can pick up the book after long intervals and come right back into the story.  I left my friends in La Raspeliere and now as summer approaches (here in New England it seems to be a long time coming) I will try to return to the narrator and his mild adventures. 

Here are the Fortuny links.  When I traveled to Venice, I had no idea there was a Fortuny museum there, alas.  Venice, like Paris, was one of those cities which lived up to its billing.  San Francisco always has, as well.  Without more ado,  some great Fortuny links, many with mentions of Proust. 

Fortuny in Wikipedia:   

  Fortuny Museum in Venice: 

The Fortuny gown:   

Fortuny museum photo:   

Monday, April 18, 2011

Proust Inspires Pulitzer Winner

Janet Egan's novel, A Visit From the Good Squad, inspired by Proust's great work, has been awarded the Pulitzer Prize.  Egan's novel, like Proust's is obsessed with time.  For all of us Proust People, this is an exciting day.  Congratulations to Egan on her stellar achievement. 

Read about it here: 
Egan Wins Pulitzer

Friday, April 08, 2011

Reading Proust in Arizona

Aside from the warm weather, this would be a good week for Proust fans to be in Arizona!  Hey, it's not all guns, cacti and canyons.  I love Arizona, the scenery and the sky and the warmth.  Here is the link: 

Proust in Arizona  

You find people celebrating Proust in the farthest corners.  Flagstaff as well as Foxborough.  Isn't it wonderful?   

I spent a fantastic week in Flagstaff at the Indian Powwow many many years ago, a week  I should write about.  The area around Flagstaff purportedly has mystical powers.  The peaks (San Francisco, I think, but memory is treacherous) are holy.  Sedona is so lovely it breaks your heart, all those red rocks, the high desert, the light, the possibilties.  


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Messing with the Classics

Nobody except the Monty Python gang messes with Proust, except respectfully.  Here is a stimulating article.  I am finding more and more good stuff in the Guardian. Update the classics at your own risk  

I don't think anything is actually "sacred" but of course bowdlerizing Mark Twain by removing the "N' word from Huck Finn and substituting "slave" is the height of wrong-mindedness.  Without television and radio and youtube and cell phone cameras and our new devices,  we only have first hand accounts and diaries revealing real speech.  And prudery in  revealing real speech and committing it to  paper and on film was a problem until the sixties when movies came of age and then HBO did it for television.  Can you imagine the Sopranos without the "F" word?  How did they speak in the wild west?  Building the railroads?  On the Erie Canal.   Did the Pony Express riders swear?  Did women?  Ever?  Who knows.

Occasionally Proust surprises us with some comment or sexual revelation, and it's so seldom one hardly knows what to think?   Ah, Marcel, you persist in puzzling me. 

Not being into so-called "celebrities," I have no idea who Jerry Hall is, but I do concur that she probably doesn't read Proust, at least in toto. We could pop over to Britain and give her a pop quiz on which reception was the most boring and on what was served as La Raspeliere at the Verdurin dinners.  Ha ha.  We all flunk. 

Should Proust be updated?  What a Gargantuan task that would be. 



Saturday, March 26, 2011

Become Proust for a Week

This article tells you how to make the Proust tour of Normandy.  Had to admit I was practically drooling, mostly thinking of the oysters, but also the Proustian ambiance in every corner.  Imagine the grande  promenade and the sea views and examining (don't touch!) the tapestries  and driving a convertible and staying in the beloved hotels.  They're not even THAT pricey.  I am practically swooning as my imagination plays out a week like this.

Live Life of Proust for a Week  

Of course, you probably will need a stylish new wardrobe, but no Galliano, please.  Poor man.  It must have been the strain.  Silk and linen and organic  cottons will do, and if jeans, only the skinniest, priciest ones.  Good luggage, natch, maybe some vintage leather Hartmans.  Of course you have a doorman to carry, so wheels not necessary.   Some big wonderful sun glasses, and an old-fashioned wicker picnic hamper with all the accroutements.   How lovely to imagine.  I am just about ready to book my flight.

Vintage Leather Harmann luggage

And we absolutely must visit Elstir's studio.  Oh, alas, he's imaginary but a visit to Giverney will  be a good substitute.

Pack your (vintage) suitcase with some new duds and let's get out of here.  Mais oui!

Wine, Bread, Pate and fruit, n'est pas?

Odette, swooning

Sunday, March 20, 2011

"Proust" concert in The Big Apple

Found on Craig's List, of all crazy things.  Alas, I can't be in New York on this date, but wouldn't it be inspiring to hear the musical works that inspired Proust?  And maybe even catch the "petite phrase" from the Sonata?

If you're a Proustian and in New York, go for it! 

Proust Concert in NYC 

Odette, the Foxborough one

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Goon Squad, Proust and the Sopranos

I loved the HBO series, The Sopranos, I love Proust, and ergo I will surely love Jennifer Egan's prize-winning book, A Visit from the Goon Squad.  Sounds like my cuppa tea with the Madeline dunked in, or maybe an Oreo in milk. 
Read the review here: A Visit From the Goon Squad   Egan said her book was partially inspired by The Sopranos and In Search of Lost Time.  Egad! 

I haven't been posting because a) I've been writing, or rather rewriting, b) social networking to publicize that The Shadow Warriors is on the Kindle c) taking a "pacing" class d) exchanging manuscripts with a friend, and d, well, you know, staying busy.  In addition. the interesting Proust posts have more or less dried up.  Now that doesn't mean that Proust is a flash in the pan; maybe the other bloggers are doing a-d too. 

Feelings of guilt assail me when I neglect our Narrator too long.   The New England winter has been brutal and part of the time I found myself napping and watching TV.  

Here's so a lovely summer in Balbec and a spring with the hawthorns blooming along the byways. 

The Other Odette 

Monday, March 07, 2011

Reading Proust on the Metro?

The interesting Proust posts have dried up, and so has, currently my reading.  I'm editing a just completed novel of mine (suspense), and trying to get another one ready for the Kindle.  And sending out stories and poems.   And taking a class.  And doing "stuff" for my Toastmasters club.  And coping with winter and cooking up a storm and ... well, you know.  I had to read a book for my class, so got that done.  A wonderful literary suspense novel  called, "The Whole World."  Published in 2010.  Proust, I think, would approve. 

Today I found this really cool photo.  Note the sepia tones.  Assume one of the two people reading is reading Proust.  The girl?  Obviously not the whole work but maybe  the first volume. Swann in Love?   It's always wonderful to see someone reading on the commuter train or the subway.  Take a look.  

Reading Proust on the Train  

One of these days I'll get back to Marcel.  By now, I'm so deep into the reading and it has been going on for so long and the plot is the novel itself, so it's not like I have to re-orient myself if I put it down for a couple months.  That's the nice thing about Proust.  You can dip into him over a lifetime once you've read the whole novel once.  And always find something different, something wonderful, something, dare we say it, sublime?  Ah Marcel.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Belle Epoque Jewelry from Proust "survivor"

Mon Dieu!  Such lovely pieces and what a great story.  The model for Elstir.  How I love the scene with Marcel and Albertine in Elstir's studio.

I particularly covet the gold cigarette case, the ladybug and the little box.  And don't the prices seem reasonable for such beautiful baubles?   Imagine someone from the Belle Epoque living into our times.  What a lot of history.  The changes we have undergone simple boggle the mind.  Oh my! 

Here is the lovely article with the photos.   Jewelry from the time of Proust  

Monday, January 31, 2011

Madame Guermantes

It's a movement!  Really weird how all of a sudden bloggers, by which I mean Proust bloggers will jump on the same scene, character, or subject matter of the Great Work.  This week, a blond lady of distinction has that honor.  Have to confess I never liked her, but then if  you really think about it, who except the Grandmother and the narrator (and he sometimes whines)  are really likable in Proust?  I used to be fond of St. Loup, but he became so tedious with Rachel.  Swann was sympathetic, but he seemed remarkably  blind to Odette's faults.  Maybe the volume should have been titled as "Blind In Love," instead of "Swann In Love."  I don't know.  

Think about it.   Do you gossip about your friends?  Do you have just an ever-so-slight love of Schadenfreude?  We are all unsympathetic in many ways.  Long live Proust for portraying us, warts and all.  

Here is another reference to that Guermantes woman.  Madame Guermantes  

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Madame Guermantes

Another blogger who finds Proust's (and Marcel's) relationship with Mme. de Guermantes complex.  I haven't found much in the way of good Proust blogging lately, and I'm been doing edits on a novel of my own, battling the rip-roaring New England winter, and whatever, making big pots of soup to keep us warm.  

In NYC over the weekend, amazed and aghast at the Totally Buried cars, the slush, the possibility of breaking your ankle with a misstep.  And the variety of boots!  More amazing, still. I wore an ancient pair of Sperry  "Marsh Boots," which I call  swamp boots when I am not calling them sh__kickers.  
Just to look at the footwear and the leg wear (anyone for jeggings or skinny jeans?) at the Whitney yesterday in the Edward Hopper show was trippy.  Proust would have been at home at the Whitney, swathed in scarves and greatcoats.  We were all swathed.  

Here is the blogger's link for a good read about the Guermantes lady.  

The duchess de Guermantes  


The Other Odette

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Which Translation of Proust

I am  deep, deep into the Scott Montcrief translation, because those are the volumes I've had since college.  They are ratty and the bindings look like hell, but the age and the tradition redeems these old books in my eyes. Sometime, I will read Lydia Davis, too. 

Here is a literate discussion (aren't all discussions of Proust literate) of the various translations.  The important thing, the only thing is to READ PROUST.   Of course, the original is best, but my rusty, school girl French would never succeed. 

Which Translation of Proust  

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Happy 2011!

I hope to finish the last books of Temps Perdu this year.   I've been shilly-shallying too long.  Onward.  But please, Marcel, a few less dinner parties. 
No madelines have issued from my kitchen yet, and perhaps that should be another resolution.  Finish Proust, bake Madelines.

Et maintenant?