Lost Time, Indeed

I’ve just finished reading Proust’s À la Recherche du Temps Perdu, (In Search of Lost Time). I read one review that said, “If you can make it to the end, it’s life changing”.

Well then.

The book was demanding for me but grueling for The Husband as he is on 24/7 call for my life’s queries which can range from whether to use one or two tomatoes in a recipe to pondering the likelihood of an afterlife. Many nights during the six months it took me to read Proust’s magnum opus, The Husband was wide awake at midnight listening to me drone on about the lack of plot or likable characters. One occasion I woke him out of a dead sleep shrilling, “I’ve just read 500 pages about a kid who wants a bedtime kiss from his mother!” To which The Husband naively suggested that I not finish the book. He seriously said it like this was a new idea but he knows:

1. Never drive in the passing lane;

2. A hard NO on anything involving packing peanuts;

3. Easy on the emojis, sister;

4. Always finish the book.

So I finished the book (7,000+ pages on my iPad) only to then learn that it is the longest novel ever written and also contains the world’s longest known sentence. OH YOU THINK I DIDN’T ALREADY KNOW THAT? As to the life-changing ending? Spoiler alert: Our protagonist learns through painful introspection that he was built to be a writer and will go on to write a book which includes such hair-raising plot lines as 500 pages about a kid who wants a goodnight kiss from his mother. Lost time, indeed.

During my book club discussion last month, one member suggested that our group read more heady books. While normally I would agree, that day I sat on my hands and buttoned my mouth and listened to praises about that month’s brain-candy book, Where the Crawdads Sing. I thought the book—about a kid with no mother to kiss goodnight—was very… heartwarming (but instinct said I shouldn’t share that out loud).

I’m currently doing a rewrite of my personal credo. For while I still put left lane drivers in the same category as serial killers and pedophiles, and a packing-peanuts-related event will be the reason I serve jail time someday, I will no longer force myself to finish a book. Never.

But, Jane. I am still asking that you go easy on the emojis. 😜🙏🏻👍

45 Comments

  1. I’m right there with you and your rules for life and also revisited “always finish the book.” When I realized it took me 8 months to read a mere 300 pages, I no longer cared that it won a Pulitzer (Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole), books can be closed before the last page is turned. Oh but that driving on the left, oh yes, those people have to go!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Longtemps je me suis couché de bonne heure…
    Congratulations. You’ve made it. You are now a honorary French citizen.
    Only those who have read (the entire) Proust can claim that.
    Me? I’ve tried thrice. And gave up. (but I have French passport so I don’t care…) I’m probably more a reader of English lit, I guess. Give me Somerset Maugham or Graham Greene any time.
    I think Proust is like golf. Only those who have read it or played it can understand. I don’t. 🙂
    I may try a 4th time, but God knows when. Again, “Félicitations”. I am proud of you.
    xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There’s a rude but funny skit by Monty Python about this book/Proust where he asks a game show contestant what he does other than decipher Proust and the answer is, “strangle animals, masturbate and golf”. So…I DO golf. Anyway, it was like running a marathon for me: not fun but sure glad I can check that box. Always good to hear from you mom ami.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Likewise mon amie. I’ll be thinking of you on June 30th as we fly to “Parigi”.
        I didn’t know/remember that particular Monty Python quote, but I’m not surprised. 🙂
        Maybe I need to “do” golf to penetrate the arcanes of Proust? 😉
        Take care my dear.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Certainly wouldn’t recommend strangling animals so…golf. 😜Have the most fun in our city. Can’t wait to hear about it and see your pictorial summation.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. “Our city” I like that. Thank you for your best wishes. You will hear how it goes, though, remember, I almost never post when I travel… so it may take a while…
        Take care.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Congrats on finishing the marathon!
    I can’t stop laughing at the picture of Spike covered in peanuts. What did you do, rub him on the carpet first?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Whoo. That’s a lot of words. I am glad I read it because there have been so many references to the book throughout my lifetime. I now understand the references. I certainly couldn’t be one of those people who read it more than once. So to Eqinoxio’s point (in previous comment) you are definitely French! Thanks for the always engaging comments.

      Like

  4. You would definitely not make it long in my book group, which has had threats of mutiny over 400+ page books. (It was my husband who constantly suggested such — though he was only an adjunct book group member; but he also enthusiastically supported my tossing a book aside if I got halfway through and was still plodding.) I do recall plodding all the way through Proust, but I was younger then. I now happily quit dull books of any size if I so choose, guilt-free. Glad to have you join these ranks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think my book club majority agrees. There may be some fragmentation in the group and I’ll be joining the just for fun group. I do feel like my new creed will be freeing though closing the pages on a “bad” book will be hard at first (admitting you have a problem is the first step, yes?). Hey, thanks for reading and the comment.

      Like

  5. I hate slow-bies in the passing lane, it’s rude. I hate packing peanuts, too. They need to take their static cling and go back to wherever they came from. The only emoji I like is Mr. Poo. I won’t lie, I have given up on uninteresting books before. If it puts me to sleep more than three times, I dump it in the library’s drive-thru return box. Sometimes I put a sticky note inside that says “cures insomnia” to warn the next person. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If a book put me to sleep I would read it every night! I do overuse the winky eye emoji and you’re not wrong to like Mr Poo. There are so many occasions to bring him ‘round.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Your posts always entertain me, Alison. 7,000 page, huh? No thanks! I like your new credo to never again force yourself to finish reading a book. The first book club I joined had a list of rules. Rule #1: You don’t have to finish reading the book.I have lived by that ever since. Perhaps I’ve taken that to the extreme. I have a growing list now of books I didn’t finish reading. I’m right there with you about the passing lane.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Just the title was in French! I cannot fathom the people who had the task of translation. It was fairly complex grammar and seriously very few punctuations. But thank you. I’m quite happy to have accomplished this.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I think I got about thirty pages in and realised it was never ever going to be a book I could read all the way through. I still believe that. Good on you for doing it, even though you probably wish you hadn’t…!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thirty pages in he was still droning on and on about that goodnight kiss! The book certainly wasn’t “life changing” for me as promised but I’m not sorry I took the challenge. Great hearing from you!

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Like pedmar10, I read Proust’s opus long ago and agree that’s it’s worth every word. But I’d add that you have to be an introvert to appreciate it — if you’re not, don’t even start reading it.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I appreciate that, Allison. Perhaps a better way I could’ve made my case is that, while only an introvert WOULD ‘dig’ it, being an introvert doesn’t necessarily mean you WILL dig it….sort of like, Every fish is a swimmer, but not every swimmer is a fish (at least, I assume every fish can swim — maybe a few just hitch rides on other fish).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think I can agree with that statement. I sure got a lot of feedback from people who had started the book but not finished it. Bunch of extroverts, huh?

      Like

  10. Much appreciated that you let me know. My screen didn’t show that it took (which has also happened fairly often on other occasions), so you’ve made me aware that it may take even when I don’t think it took. Such are the vagaries of WordPress!

    Thanks again.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I waited a long time before I managed to give Proust my full attention. In my twenties I read Paradise Lost, Regained and Milton’s entire prose works- well, he was my Special Study. I read Theology, Philosophy and taught English Lit for nearly 40 years. So, I am a trained reader.
    When I finally had choice in semi-retirement, I went for Proust. I thought La Recherche was so poetic, intense and the descriptions so ultra-sensitive to the point of being painful- but in a pleasurable way. Yes, slightly perverted to take pleasure in the observation of emotional pain. But the observation was so psychologically intuitive that I bemoaned my ability to skim read and, once read, I decided to re-visit -pun- the whole first section and annotate it to make sure I was digesting it. I did this before moving on to the middle section, which – apart from the description of the way hotel guests behave- was less comfortable for the reader in his or her relationship with the main protagonist.
    I will re-read the whole opus sometime in the future to engage with the irritating, self-obsessed and compelling characters who shed so much light on our own insecurities and idiosyncracies!
    I think P is offering a vision to those who want to scrutinise and understand every human foible to the n-th degree. I understand that not everyone is as intense or analytical about minutiae. Hmm….

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s a wonderful analysis. I researched it after I read it and was amused at how long it takes most people to try to summarize it. I will say that his description of his relationship with his grandmother and the way he writes about her death still haunts me. It was indeed poetic and touched me deeply. His obsessive nature with the girls he “loved” made me absolutely mad (as in bonkers). But that’s how we knew it was an obsession. If I ever write a book about obsessive behavior I’m going to write “his behavior was obsessive” and then move on so as not to torture my readers! Thanks for the terrific feedback.

      Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s