Time regained ; A Guide to Proust

by Marcel Proust

Other authorsTerence Kilmartin (Translator), D.J. Enright (Contributor), Joanna Kilmartin (Contributor), Andreas Mayor (Translator)
Hardcover, 1993





New York, NY : Modern Library, 1993.


Since the original, prewar translation there has been no completely new rendering of the French original into English. This translation brings to the fore a more sharply engaged, comic and lucid Proust. IN SEARCH OF LOST TIME is one of the greatest, most entertaining reading experiences in any language. As the great story unfolds from its magical opening scenes to its devastating end, it is the Penguin Proust that makes Proust accessible to a new generation. Each book is translated by a different, superb translator working under the general editorship of Professor Christopher Prendergast, University of Cambridge.

User reviews

LibraryThing member jorgearanda
The final, shining volume of "In Search of Lost Time;" partly about the war, partly (and most importantly) about a meditation and a rediscovery of the progress of time in our lives, about memory, the many and varied encounters we have with the characters that form the story of our lives, and ultimately about finding the inspiration to give meaning to all of this, to record it all as a literary masterpiece, in a way turning "In Search of Lost Time" into an astonishingly beautiful and delicate story about its own creation and reason of being.… (more)
LibraryThing member Leonard_Seet
More than a commentary on Swann’s jealousy or M. Charlus’s homosexuality or the frivolity of the Guermantes’ sorties, Marcel Proust’s monumental work In Search of Lost Time paints the unsuccessful reconstruction of a forgone world and a lost existence from fickle memories, which like morning mists would fade with the rising sun. The narrator Marcel, longing for a past that didn’t exist but must be created, sought to experience Bergson’s continuous time rather than the fragmented and still-framed instantaneous moments by attempting to blur the boundaries between Cambray and Paris, childhood and adolescence, and Swann and himself and integrate here and there, before and after, and him and me through memory fragments of previous objects, people and sensations. As in a neural network or a mind-map, the madeleine linked his aunt to his mother, who in turn was linked to Albertine through jealousy, which also connected Marcel with Saint Loop and Swann, who, as with his (Marcel’s) grandmother, linked his childhood and adolescence. And through recollection, Marcel would try to relive the buried years and resurrect his grandmother and Albertine.

But even during the narrative, Marcel realized memory’s willfulness and the variation in hues, shapes, pitch and timbre between the actual object and its mental reconstruction. When he encountered an old friend, the facial features were so different from his recollection and reconstruction, for better or for worse pregnant with all the emotions, preoccupation, biases, that he could not match face with voice.

Because recollected sensation can never equate with the actual experience and time, like a patient thief, steals memories a morsel at a time until one day the owner would realize he was ruined, Marcel ultimately would fail to recapture and assemble stolen sensations and decayed seconds and in the end, must create new moments, new sensations and ultimately a new biography, through the synergy between past experiences and creative imagination. From those deceased hours and decayed memories sprouted In Search of Lost Time, not only Proust’s novel but also that of the narrator.

Whether we savor Marcel’s frailness, Swann’s infatuation, Charlus’s pompousness, Franscoise’s independent-mindedness, the sorties’ frivolousness or the social revelation of the Dreyfuss Affair, we can enjoy Proust’s classic without resorting to Marxist or Freudian or Feminist critique. And the sentences, like the serpentine Amazon, seemed to flow unceasingly into the distant horizon carrying with it the sparkling sunlight. Although ascending the novel’s three thousand pages appears precipitous, the effort will be well worth the while and, at the end of the adventure, the reader can rest on the crisp apex and savor time’s transience and memory’s playfulness as if they were alpine zephyrs.
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LibraryThing member P_S_Patrick
In several senses this volume seems quite different from the previous ones; It is translated by a different person, Proust's character seems to have grown up in age and attitude, and more sober matters take the focus of the narration. Less than half way through we pass through a Kafkaesque episode in a shady hotel, and while much of this volume is darker, in a more melancholy and even morbid sense, this bit stood out in being sinister, which none of the rest of the work was. The second half is spent in a party at the Guermantes, and it is here that Proust does much of his thinking upon aging and death.
Despite reviews I have read that claim the translator of the final volume does not do as good a job as Moncrieff does on all the other ones, I found this volume refreshing in its different tone, though after half way through I ceased to notice any of the differences in style between the two that were apparent to begin with.
Why this book is called time regained escaped me until very near the end, as most of this volume is about the way time has fled Proust, who realises he has become old. Much of the book consists of his lamentations of departed youth; a more relevant title that suggested itself to me would simply be “Temps Disparu”, Time Disappeared, as his search for lost time throughout the book has ended in the lost time not in a reality being found, with the revelation that he has little time left. But, in some senses, he does find his lost time, in one way in his observation that time repeats itself, that situations occur again, are never annihilated for good, and in a second sense, that he finally manages to pin down his lost time by recording it all in his novel, which ends at the point that he begins to write it.
I was beginning to suspect, at some point nearing the end of the novel, that I would be disappointed with its conclusion, but after spending no time reflecting upon it, having only just finished it, it is quite clear that the ending is fitting to the work, and that it makes worth while the reading of the whole.
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LibraryThing member zip_000
What is there to say about this book. It wasn't as good as the earlier parts of the work, but that is easily attributable to the posthumous publication and lack of final editing. Still though an amazing work.

The shocking thing that you discover - or at least that I discovered - in this book is how little of the narrator's life is actually portrayed in the text. The text is so nuanced and subtle that I often was left with the impression that I completely knew the character, but that just isn't the case. We see in the part that the narrator has suddenly gotten old...hard to say how old...in his 50's I think. And retrospectively, we see that he may have been older in the past several books than we thought.

In passing he mentions having fought duels and his military service. These things don't jive with the picture of the narrator that I had in my mind, but that is because we cannot really know the narrator based on the brief - though lengthy in text - encounters that we've had with him. Each part of the larger work only really describes a moment or an afternoon or a summer in the entire life of the character.

I am sad that I am finished and have no more Proust to look forward to.
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LibraryThing member stillatim
An amazing conclusion, but also a little sad- what would Proust have done with this volume had he lived just a year or two longer? There are obvious problems (characters die, then reappear; Marcel meets people and then says he hasn't seen them etc...), but the more important problem is with the theory. Is Proust's experience meant to be a yardstick for *all* literature, or only for his novel? Would he have ended up more with a 'other people's books help you to read yourself' theory, or with a 'your book helps you to read yourself, insofar as you're the author' theory? Because these two things are very different, and depending on which way he went, the reading of the conclusion to A la recherche will be wildly different. Most readers would hope that Proust believes there's a good reason for them to read his book, and so will seek themselves in it; but you can't deny that the opposite possibility exists. It might just be that Proust should send us not to other novels, but to writing bad memoirs.

Theory aside, this is one of the stronger volumes on its own terms- the war adds spice, there's no denying it, and, well, there's lots more BDSM.
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LibraryThing member jscape2000
I slogged my way through the final "book." In Time Regained, the narrator has completely taken over the plot- rather than a novel, it is more an extended meditation on art, society and death. I don't believe there were any scenes that took place on their own; instead, the narrator told us about a scene that had previously happened. Mercifully, at only 500 pages, this was the shortest installment.… (more)
LibraryThing member lauralkeet
Time Regained opens with Marcel visiting Combray, the village of his childhood which figured prominently in the first volume of In Search of Lost Time. He has reconnected with his first love, Gilberte, who is now married to one of Marcel’s best friends. Soon, World War I is upon them and the narrative shifts to the impact of war on the village, on Paris, and on the society in which Marcel circulates. Much later (in the novel as well as in Marcel’s life), he attends a party and encounters many people he doesn’t recognize. This is not because he doesn’t know them, but because Marcel has been absent and everyone has aged considerably. And besides aging, some have fallen in the social hierarchy while others have made astonishing moves up the ladder.

Analysis of society, and the motivations of individuals, is a central theme throughout the work. In this volume, Marcel also reflects on how memories of the same event can vary widely from person to person, and how decisions or actions that seem inconsequential can have long-term effects:
But the truth, even more, is that life is perpetually weaving fresh threads which link one individual and one event to another, and that these threads are crossed and recrossed, doubled and redoubled to thicken the web, so that between any slightest point of our past and all the others a rich network of memories gives us an almost infinite variety of communicating paths to choose from.

And finally, as Proust closes a circle by connecting back to the first pages of In Search of Lost Time, I began to grasp the genius of this work. I say “began” because I sense that more insight can be gained by re-reading Proust from time to time. Will I do so? Only time will tell. For now I am perfectly happy to have read it once
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LibraryThing member nog
Despite not being subject to a final edit (Proust died before he might have done so), this volume is a definite rebound from the boring "Captive" and "Fugitive" volumes. Since much of it was written much earlier, he could have worked out most of its textual issues; still, it contains errors in it (as described in specific endnotes). Our narrator comes up with his "mission statement" about halfway through, although his epiphany is undercut by the usual overly verbose analysis. Then we get the final 100 or so pages, a section which is often called the "Bal de tetes" by critics, but which I affectionately call the "Night of the Living Dead" (okay, it takes place in the afternoon). Here we get the final look at the salon, which neatly pulls all the themes of the book together in a most sadly humorous way.

I guess my final impression is that Proust's novel is undeniably an important one, a classic whose major flaws are ones of length and repetition. I don't agree with all those Proust "experts" who call it a comic masterpiece or one of the funniest books ever written. Yes, it has wit, but you aren't going to find any knee-slappers here. You don't find this book on any of those lists of funniest books. I tried to find some critics who had written about the book's flaws. Apparently there aren't any. There are only superlatives -- it's got everything, you know, and if you haven't realized that, then maybe you need to read the whole 3,300 pages a few more times. Sure thing...
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LibraryThing member amerynth
I feel like I should throw myself party, finally having finished "Time Regained" -- the final volume in Marcel Proust's magnum opus "In Search of Lost Time." Like other volumes, this book alternated between brilliant and maddening. No one can make an observation that so fundamentally demonstrates the human character like Proust; and I'm fairly certain no one can go on and on about such strange and small details, such as slipping on a flagstone.

In the final installment, our narrator attends a party after decades absence from the social scene to find with shock that they have all aged considerably, and hence so has he. He spends much of the novel trying to reconcile his vision of these people with the differing characters they are now.

Even though "In Search of Lost Time" was very challenging and slow going for me, I am so very glad to have read the series. It is certainly deserving of its reputation as one of the great modern novels.
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