Friday, June 21, 2019

Excursions in the Proust-iverse



Marcel Proust (1871-1922)


For quite a long time, 'reading Proust' has ranked as just about the most impressive (= pretentious?) literary feat you can accomplish.



Geoffrey Willans & Ronald Searle: The Compleet Molesworth (1958)


When one of the schoolmasters in Willans & Searle's classic 'Molesworth' series asks the eponymous hero about his holiday reading matter, the answer is an obvious one:
'What hav you read, molesworth?

gulp gulp a rat in a trap.

'Proust, sir.'

'Come agane?'

'Proust, sir. A grate fr. writer. The book in question was swan's way.

'Gorblimey. Wot did you think of it, eh?'

'The style was exquisite, sir, and the characterisation superb. The long evocative passages - '

'SILENCE' thunder GRIMES. There is no such book, impertinent boy. I shall hav to teach you culture the hard way. Report for the kane after prayers.'


Monty Python: Summarize Proust Competition (1972)


Some of you may be more familiar with the Monty Python 'All-England Summarize Proust Competition' sketch:
Harry: Proust's novel ostensibly tells of the irrevocability of time lost, the forfeiture of innocence through experience, the reinstallment of extra-temporal values of time regained, ultimately the novel is both optimistic and set within the context of a humane religious experience, re-stating as it does the concept of intemporality. In the first volume, Swann, the family friend visits...

(Gong goes, chord of music, applause. The meter has hardly risen at all.)

Mee: Well tried, Harry.


Then, of course, there's Steve Carrell's poignant performance as the hapless, suicidal Proustian in Little Miss Sunshine:
Dwayne: I wish I could just sleep until I was eighteen and skip all of this, high school, everything.

Frank: Do you know who Marcel Proust is?

Dwayne: He's the guy you teach.

Frank: Yeah. French writer. Total loser. Never had a real job. Unrequited love affairs. Gay. Spent 20 years writing a book almost no one reads. But he's also probably the greatest writer since Shakespeare. Anyway, he, uh, he gets down to the end of his life, and he looks back and decides that all those years he suffered, those were the best years of his life, 'cause they made him who he was. All those years he was happy? You know, total waste. Didn't learn a thing. So, if you sleep until you're 18 - ah, think of the suffering you're gonna miss. I mean high school? High school - those are your prime suffering years. You don't get better suffering than that.


Circling back a little closer to the era of Proust's first appearance in English, there's James Thurber's 1932 New Yorker story "The Black Magic of Barney Haller":
On this hot morning when I saw Barney coming along with his faithful storm trudging behind him, I went back frowningly to my copy of "Swann's Way." I hoped that Barney, seeing me absorbed in a book, would pass by without saying anything. I read: "... I myself seemed actually to have become the subject of my book: a church, a quartet, the rivalry between Francis I and Charles V ..." I could feel Barney standing looking at me, but I didn't look at him.

"Dis morning bime by," said Barney, "I go hunt grotches in de voods."

"That's fine," I said, and turned a page and pretended to be engrossed in what I was reading. Barney walked on; he had wanted to talk some more, but he walked on. After a paragraph or two, his words began to come between me and the words in the book. "Bime by I go hunt grotches in de voods."

If you are susceptible to such things, it is not difficult to visualize grotches. They fluttered into my mind: ugly little creatures, about the size of whippoorwills, only covered with blood and honey and the scrapings of church bells. Grotches . . . Who and what, I wondered, really was this thing in the form of a hired man that kept anointing me ominously, in passing, with abracadabra?
So there you have it: something close to a century of smart gibes designed to show the hopelessness of trying to read the 3-4,000 pages (depending on which edition you use) of his seven-part masterwork À la recherche du temps perdu - whether (like his first English translator, Scotsman C. K. Scott Moncrieff) you approximate that title as Remembrance of Things Past, or (like a more recent team of Anglo-American translators) you render it more correctly as In Search of Lost Time.

So what's the big problem? Why is it so difficult to get to the end of his book?



Karl Ove Knausgaard: A Death in the Family (1932)


I was surprised when I read a number of reviews which compared Karl Ove Knausgaard's rather joyless autobiographical chronicle My Struggle (2009-11) with Proust. Why? Because they both came in a number of volumes, and could both be described as minutely detailed, I suppose - oh, and because both were by foreigners.

I've only read the first of the books in Knausgaard's six-volume sequence, but I certainly found it a powerful account of some of the nastier aspects of death and funerals in general - very evocative to anyone who's been through anything approaching the same ordeal. But Proustian? No.



Edward Stanley Mercer: C. K. Scott Moncrieff (1889-1932)


I think a lot of it comes down to an unfortunate initial choice of English translator. It's true that C. K. Scott Moncrieff's decision to translate the first volume of Marcel Proust's long novel came long before its distinction had been recognised even in France. But some of the more egregious additions he made to the text - particularly his choice of titles for the individual volumes, not to mention the series as a whole - caused a certain amount of consternation even at the time.

Proust himself wrote to Scott Moncrieff on 10 October 1922, thanking him for "the trouble you have taken," and complimenting him on his "fine talent." However, he added:
The verses you have inserted and the dedication to your friends are no substitute for the intentional ambiguity of my Temps perdu, which corresponds to the Temps retrouvé that appears at the end of my work.
Proust also felt that Swann's Way might have been better translated as To Swann's Way.

Scott Moncrieff clearly regarded this as a piece of impertinence from a mere author, rather than a helpful suggestion. He riposted:
My dear Sir, I beg that you will allow me to thank you for your very gratifying letter in English as my knowledge of French — as you have shown me, with regard to your titles — is too imperfect, too stunted a growth for me to weave from it the chapelet that I would fain offer you. Are you still suffering — which I am very sorry to hear, and wish that my real sympathy could bring you some relief — I am making my reply to your critiques on another sheet, and by the aid of a machine which I hope you do not abominate: it is the machine on which Swann and one-third of the Jeunes Filles have been translated. Thus you can throw away this sheet unread, or keep it, or inflict it upon M. Gallimard.
Proust died soon after. It's hard to imagine what he could have said in reply, in any case, to one so "fain" to "weave chapelets" with his own flowery prose.

The problem, put simply, is that Scott Moncrieff's prose is pompous where Proust's is subtle and quick. This can be illustrated most economically in his choice of titles. The French phrase À la recherche du temps perdu means "In Search of Lost Time" - no more, no less. Scott Moncrieff's choice: Remembrance of Things Past - an allusion to Shakespeare's sonnet 30 ("When to the sessions of sweet silent thought / I summon up remembrance of things past") - does not mean the same thing at all. Shakespeare's sonnet continues:
I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,
And with old woes new wail my dear time's waste.
In other words, the sonnet is about memory, tinged with regret. Proust's book, by contrast, is about memory in an entirely different sense: it's concerned with the nature of time itself. Proust, greatly influenced by his contemporary, the philosopher Henri Bergson, saw memory as something which could change and grow over time - not a stable commodity at all. And, of course, in the famous image of the madeleine in the cup of tea, he described the way in which sense memories could almost literally recreate a lost reality.



Lydia Davis, trans.: The Way by Swann's (2003)


Sacrificing meaning for sonorousness is the hallmark of Scott Moncrieff's approach generally. Proust's titles do not go easily into English, admittedly. Du Côté de chez Swann, the first, translates literally as "By way of Swann's place." Lydia Davis calls it The Way by Swann's in her 2002 translation. Swann's Way is a far more ambiguous title - and, while it may sound better than Proust's own suggestion of To Swann's Way - it definitely favours euphony over sense.

Scott Moncrieff's next choice, to turn the vivid French of À l’Ombre des jeunes filles en fleur into Within a Budding Grove is, however, far less defensible. And it wasn't for lack of good advice, either. He even wrote to Joseph Conrad asking for his opinion. Conrad replied that "In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower" seemed to him the obvious translation. James Grieve, the most recent (2002) translator, apparently agrees: In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower is his choice, too.

And so he blundered on. Le Côté de Guermantes is fine as The Guermantes Way, but how could even Scott Moncrieff persuade himself that the mealy-mouthed Cities of the Plain would be a good fit for Proust's brazen title Sodome et Gomorrhe? No prizes for guessing what that particular section of his book is about ... La Prisonnière is okay as The Captive, but The Sweet Cheat Gone is a dreadful travesty of Albertine disparue (aka La Fugitive).

Of course, simply criticising someone's choice of titles is not entirely fair. The last volume of the series, Le Temps retrouvé, which Scott Moncrieff didn't live to translate himself, has been variously Englished as Time Regained (by Stephen Hudson, in 1930), The Past Recaptured (by Andreas Mayor, in 1971) and Finding Time Again (by Ian Patterson, in 2002).

But - as you can imagine - it wasn't just the titles that were affected by C. K. Scott Moncrieff's fatal taste for the sonorous and polysyllabic: so different from Proust's nervous, electric style.



Here is the opening passage of Proust's Du Côté de chez Swann:
Longtemps, je me suis couché de bonne heure. Parfois, à peine ma bougie éteinte, mes yeux se fermaient si vite que je n’avais pas le temps de me dire : « Je m’endors. » Et, une demi-heure après, la pensée qu’il était temps de chercher le sommeil m’éveillait ; je voulais poser le volume que je croyais avoir encore dans les mains et souffler ma lumière ; je n’avais pas cessé en dormant de faire des réflexions sur ce que je venais de lire, mais ces réflexions avaient pris un tour un peu particulier ; il me semblait que j’étais moi-même ce dont parlait l’ouvrage : une église, un quatuor, la rivalité de François Ier et de Charles-Quint. Cette croyance survivait pendant quelques secondes à mon réveil ; elle ne choquait pas ma raison, mais pesait comme des écailles sur mes yeux et les empêchait de se rendre compte que le bougeoir n’était pas allumé. Puis elle commençait à me devenir inintelligible, comme après la métempsycose les pensées d’une existence antérieure ; le sujet du livre se détachait de moi, j’étais libre de m’y appliquer ou non ; aussitôt je recouvrais la vue et j’étais bien étonné de trouver autour de moi une obscurité, douce et reposante pour mes yeux, mais peut-être plus encore pour mon esprit, à qui elle apparaissait comme une chose sans cause, incompréhensible, comme une chose vraiment obscure. Je me demandais quelle heure il pouvait être ; j’entendais le sifflement des trains qui, plus ou moins éloigné, comme le chant d’un oiseau dans une forêt, relevant les distances, me décrivait l’étendue de la campagne déserte où le voyageur se hâte vers la station prochaine ; et le petit chemin qu’il suit va être gravé dans son souvenir par l’excitation qu’il doit à des lieux nouveaux, à des actes inaccoutumés, à la causerie récente et aux adieux sous la lampe étrangère qui le suivent encore dans le silence de la nuit, à la douceur prochaine du retour.

J’appuyais tendrement mes joues contre les belles joues de l’oreiller qui, pleines et fraîches, sont comme les joues de notre enfance. Je frottais une allumette pour regarder ma montre. Bientôt minuit. C’est l’instant où le malade qui a été obligé de partir en voyage et a dû coucher dans un hôtel inconnu, réveillé par une crise, se réjouit en apercevant sous la porte une raie de jour. Quel bonheur ! c’est déjà le matin ! Dans un moment les domestiques seront levés, il pourra sonner, on viendra lui porter secours. L’espérance d’être soulagé lui donne du courage pour souffrir. Justement il a cru entendre des pas ; les pas se rapprochent, puis s’éloignent. Et la raie de jour qui était sous sa porte a disparu. C’est minuit ; on vient d’éteindre le gaz ; le dernier domestique est parti et il faudra rester toute la nuit à souffrir sans remède.


[480 words]


C. K. Scott Moncrieff, trans. Swann's Way (1922)


Here's Scott-Moncrieff's version of that opening:
For a long time I used to go to bed early. Sometimes, when I had put out my candle, my eyes would close so quickly that I had not even time to say “I’m going to sleep.” And half an hour later the thought that it was time to go to sleep would awaken me; I would try to put away the book which, I imagined, was still in my hands, and to blow out the light; I had been thinking all the time, while I was asleep, of what I had just been reading, but my thoughts had run into a channel of their own, until I myself seemed actually to have become the subject of my book: a church, a quartet, the rivalry between François I and Charles V. This impression would persist for some moments after I was awake; it did not disturb my mind, but it lay like scales upon my eyes and prevented them from registering the fact that the candle was no longer burning. Then it would begin to seem unintelligible, as the thoughts of a former existence must be to a reincarnate spirit; the subject of my book would separate itself from me, leaving me free to choose whether I would form part of it or no; and at the same time my sight would return and I would be astonished to find myself in a state of darkness, pleasant and restful enough for the eyes, and even more, perhaps, for my mind, to which it appeared incomprehensible, without a cause, a matter dark indeed.

I would ask myself what o’clock it could be; I could hear the whistling of trains, which, now nearer and now farther off, punctuating the distance like the note of a bird in a forest, shewed me in perspective the deserted countryside through which a traveller would be hurrying towards the nearest station: the path that he followed being fixed for ever in his memory by the general excitement due to being in a strange place, to doing unusual things, to the last words of conversation, to farewells exchanged beneath an unfamiliar lamp which echoed still in his ears amid the silence of the night; and to the delightful prospect of being once again at home.

I would lay my cheeks gently against the comfortable cheeks of my pillow, as plump and blooming as the cheeks of babyhood. Or I would strike a match to look at my watch. Nearly midnight. The hour when an invalid, who has been obliged to start on a journey and to sleep in a strange hotel, awakens in a moment of illness and sees with glad relief a streak of daylight shewing under his bedroom door. Oh, joy of joys! it is morning. The servants will be about in a minute: he can ring, and some one will come to look after him. The thought of being made comfortable gives him strength to endure his pain. He is certain he heard footsteps: they come nearer, and then die away. The ray of light beneath his door is extinguished. It is midnight; some one has turned out the gas; the last servant has gone to bed, and he must lie all night in agony with no one to bring him any help.

[549 words]


Terence Kilmartin, rev. Remembrance of Things Past (1981)


Here's Terence Kilmartin's revision of Scott Moncrieff:
For a long time I used to go to bed early. Sometimes, when I had put out my candle, my eyes would close so quickly that I had not even time to say to myself: “I’m falling asleep.” And half an hour later the thought that it was time to go to sleep would awaken me; I would make as if to put away the book which I imagined was still in my hands, and to blow out the light; I had gone on thinking, while I was asleep, about what I had just been reading, but these thoughts had taken a rather peculiar turn; it seemed to me that I myself was the immediate subject of my book: a church, a quartet, the rivalry between François I and Charles V. This impression would persist for some moments after I awoke; it did not offend my reason, but lay like scales upon my eyes and prevented them from registering the fact that the candle was no longer burning. Then it would begin to seem unintelligible, as the thoughts of a former existence must be to a reincarnate spirit; the subject of my book would separate itself from me, leaving me free to apply myself to it or no; and at the same time my sight would return and I would be astonished to find myself in a state of darkness, pleasant and restful enough for my eyes, and even more, perhaps, for my mind, to which it appeared incomprehensible, without a cause, something dark indeed.

I would ask myself what time it could be; I could hear the whistling of trains, which, now nearer and now farther off, punctuating the distance like the note of a bird in a forest, showed me in perspective the deserted countryside through which a traveller is hurrying towards the nearest station; and the path he is taking will be engraved in his memory by the excitement induced by strange surroundings, by unaccustomed activities, by the conversation he has had and the farewells exchanged beneath an unfamiliar lamp that still echo in his ears amid the silence of the night, and by the happy prospect of being home again.

I would lay my cheeks gently against the comfortable cheeks of my pillow, as plump and fresh as the cheeks of childhood. I would strike a match to look at my watch. Nearly midnight. The hour when an invalid, who has been obliged to start on a journey and to sleep in a strange hotel, awakened by a sudden spasm, sees with glad relief a streak of daylight showing under his door. Thank God, it is morning. The servants will be about in a minute: he can ring, and someone will come to look after him. The thought of being assuaged gives him strength to endure his pain. He is certain he heard footsteps: they come nearer, and then die away. The ray of light beneath his door is extinguished. It is midnight; someone has just turned out the gas; the last servant has gone to bed, and he must lie all night in agony with no one to bring him relief.

[526 words]





And here's Lydia Davis's 2002 translation:
For a long time, I went to bed early. Sometimes, my candle scarcely out, my eyes would close so quickly that I did not have time to say to myself: “I’m falling asleep.” And, half an hour later, the thought that it was time to try to sleep would wake me; I wanted to put down the book I thought I still had in my hands and blow out my light; I had not ceased while sleeping to form reflections on what I had just read, but these reflections had taken a rather peculiar turn; it seemed to me that I myself was what the book was talking about: a church, a quartet, the rivalry between François I and Charles V. This belief lived on for a few seconds after my waking; it did not shock my reason but lay heavy like scales on my eyes and kept them from realising that the candlestick was no longer lit. Then it began to grow unintelligible to me, as after metempsychosis do the thoughts of an earlier existence; the subject of the book detached itself from me, I was free to apply myself to it or not; immediately I recovered my sight and I was amazed to find a darkness around me soft and restful for my eyes, but perhaps even more so for my mind, to which it appeared a thing without cause, incomprehensible, a thing truly dark. I would ask myself what time it might be; I could hear the whistling of the rains which, remote or nearby, like the singing of a bird in a forest, plotting the distances, described to me the extent of the deserted countryside where the traveler hastens toward the nearest station; and the little road he is following will be engraved on his memory by the excitement he owes to strange places, to unaccustomed activities, to the conversation he has had and the farewells under the unfamiliar lamp that follow him still through the silence of the night, to the imminent sweetness of his return.

I would rest my cheeks tenderly against the lovely cheeks of the pillow, which, full and fresh, are like the cheeks of our childhood. I would strike a match to look at my watch. Nearly midnight. This is the hour when the invalid who has been obliged to go off on a journey and has had to sleep in an unfamiliar hotel, wakened by an attack, is cheered to see a ray of light under the door. How fortunate, it's already morning! In a moment the servants will be up, he will be able to ring, someone will come help him. The hope of being relieved gives him the courage to suffer. In fact he thought he heard footsteps: the steps approach, then recede. And the ray of light that was under his door has disappeared. It is midnight; they have just turned off the gas; the last servant has gone and he will have to suffer the whole night through without remedy.

[504 words]


None of these translations is terrible. All of them say more or less the same thing. But what Proust has said in 480 words, Scott Moncrieff has expanded to 549. Kilmartin is able to cut this down by twenty or so words to 526, and Lydia Davis down by another twenty to 504.



Lydia Davis (1997)


Davis's is by far the most elegant of the three. Only she is able to turn Proust's famously long sentences into something equally eloquent in English: "The hope of being relieved gives him the courage to suffer" or phrases like "the imminent sweetness of his return."

Compare that with Scott Moncrieff's far less vivid word choices: "The thought of being made comfortable gives him strength to endure his pain" or "the delightful prospect of being once again at home."

Of course, Davis has the advantage of being a great prose stylist in her own right, but it's her determination to stick as closely as possible to Proust - to his paragraphing and phrasing, rather than Scott Moncrieff's continuous feather-bedding and over-explicit expansions of his meaning - which enables her to keep her own version so light and airy.

Translation is a hard thing to do; it's pointless to pretend otherwise - and literary translation is particularly hard. French is a more economical and concise language than English - as a general rule. If, however, a translator averages an expansion of roughly 10% on every passage he renders (as is the case with Scott Moncrieff) it does, in the long run, have the unfortunate effect of making your author seem exceptionally verbose.

The real problem arose with Scott Moncrieff's heirs. They insisted on his monopoly on Proust translation for as long as they legally could: prohibiting other English versions from appearing. This is why the next two 'translations' were billed as 'revisions' of Scott Moncrieff rather than independent versions in their own right.



Terence Kilmartin (1922-1991)


After Terence Kilmartin's 1981 attempt to reconcile Scott Moncrieff's text with the new (1954) French Bibliothèque de la Pléiade version edited by Pierre Clarac and André Ferré, there was a further revision of a revision by D. J. Enright in 1992, which changed the title (finally) to In Search of Lost Time, in order to update it further to match the even newer (1987) Bibliothèque de la Pléiade version edited by Jean-Yves Tadié.



D. J. Enright (1920-2002)


At this point it was clearly time to go back to the text and work from that alone, ignoring Scott Moncrieff altogether, which is what Christopher Prendergast and his team did in the 2002 Penguin translation. I can't speak for the other volumes, but certainly Lydia Davis's translation of the first part (retitled - ironically - Swann's Way for the American edition) is a triumph.



If you actually want to read Proust, as opposed to the somewhat shopsoiled Wildean sprite that C. K. Scott Moncrieff made of him, it's nice to know that there's now a valid alternative to his formerly ubiquitous version.





George D. Painter: Proust (1959-65)


As far as filling in the rest of the background goes, George D. Painter's 2-volume biography of Proust remains a wonderfully readable and beautifully arranged piece of work. It's worth noting, parenthetically, the statement in his preface that "all translations from the French are my own." Even then, the shortcomings of the Scott Moncrieff version made it impossible to use for scholarly purposes: especially after the appearance of the new Pléiade text in 1954.

A more recent perspective is given by Jean-Yves Tadié's 1996 life. By far the most delightful piece of secondary literature on him, however, was contributed by his housekeeper Céleste Albaret in her 1973 memoir, which inspired Percy Adlon's 1982 movie Céleste.



Céleste (1980)


You'll find below a basic library of Proustiana. If you read French, the best and most complete text is undoubtedly to be found in Jean-Yves Tadié's four-volume 1987 Pléiade edition. It is extremely expensive, though, so it's as well to be aware that the same basic text is available for a fraction of the cost in the Gallimard Folio series.

If it's a good English version you're looking for, I'd go no further than the new Penguin edition. Forget Scott Moncrieff. "Throw away them records 'cause the blues is dead," as Elton John once put it. He's ruled the roost for far too long, and is no longer - if he ever did - doing poor old Marcel any favours. Why read 4,000-odd pages when Proust's actual book only contains 3,600 in the original French?





Jacques-Émile Blanche: Proust a 21 ans (1892)

Valentin Louis Georges Eugène Marcel Proust
(1871-1922)


    Œuvres en français:



    Marcel Proust: Les plaisirs et les jours (1988)


  1. Proust, Marcel. Les plaisirs et les jours. Préface d’Anatole France. 1896. Collection L’Imaginaire. Paris: Éditions Gallimard, 1988.



  2. Marcel Proust : À la recherche du temps perdu (1954)


  3. Proust, Marcel. À la recherche du temps perdu. Preface by André Maurois. Ed. Pierre Clarac & André Ferré. 3 vols. Bibliothèque de la Pléiade. Paris: Gallimard, 1954:
    1. Du Côté de chez Swann - À l’Ombre des jeunes filles en fleur. 1913 & 1919. Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, 100. Paris: Gallimard, 1964.
    2. Le Côté de Guermantes - Sodome et Gomorrhe. 1920-21 & 1921-22. Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, 101. Paris: Gallimard, 1973.
    3. La Prisonnière - La Fugitive - Le Temps retrouvé. 1923, 1925 & 1927. Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, 102. Paris: Gallimard, 1954.



  4. Marcel Proust : Du côté de chez Swann (1972)


  5. Proust, Marcel. À la recherche du temps perdu. 1913-1927. Ed. Pierre Clarac & André Ferré. Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, 100-2 (1954):
    1. Du côté de chez Swann. 1913. Collection Folio, 821. Paris: Gallimard, 1984.
    2. À l'ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs. 1919. 3 vols. Paris: Gallimard, 1961.
    3. Le Côté de Guermantes. 1920-21. 2 vols. Collection Folio, 87-88. Paris: Gallimard, 1978.
    4. Sodome et Gomorrhe. 1921-22. Collection Folio, 102. Paris: Gallimard, 1983.
    5. La Prisonnière. 1923. Collection Folio, 146. Paris: Gallimard, 1982.
    6. Albertine disparue. 1925. Collection Folio, 159. Paris: Gallimard, 1984.
    7. Le Temps retrouvé. 1927. Collection Folio, 785. Paris: Gallimard, 1978.


  6. Marcel Proust : À la recherche du temps perdu (1987-89)


  7. Proust, Marcel. À la recherche du temps perdu. 1913-1927. Ed. Jean-Yves Tadié et al. 4 vols. Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, 100-2, 356 (1987-89):
    1. Du côté de chez Swann. 1913. Ed. Antoine Compagnon. Collection Folio, 1924. Paris: Éditions Gallimard, 1988.
    2. À l'ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs. 1919. Ed. Pierre-Louis Rey. Collection Folio, 1946. Paris: Éditions Gallimard, 1988.
    3. Le Côté de Guermantes. 1920-21. 2 vols. Ed. Thierry Laget & Brian Rogers. Collection Folio, 2005-6. Paris: Éditions Gallimard, 1988.
    4. Sodome et Gomorrhe. 1921-22. Ed. Antoine Compagnon. Collection Folio, 2047. Paris: Éditions Gallimard, 1989.
    5. La Prisonnière. 1923. Ed. Pierre-Edmond Robert. Collection Folio, 2089. Paris: Éditions Gallimard, 1989.
    6. Albertine disparue. 1925. Ed. Anne Chevalier. Collection Folio, 2139. Paris: Éditions Gallimard, 1990.
    7. Le Temps retrouvé. 1927. Ed. Pierre-Louis Rey, Pierre-Edmond Robert, Jacques Robichez & Brian Rogers. Collection Folio, 2203. Paris: Éditions Gallimard, 1990.


  8. Proust, Marcel. L’Indifférent: Nouvelle. Préface de Philip Kolb. Nouvelle Revue Française. Paris: Éditions Gallimard, 1978.



  9. Marcel Proust: L’Indifférent (1978)


  10. Kolb, Philip, ed. Cahiers Marcel Proust, Nouvelle Série 3: Texts retrouvés. Avec une bibliographie des publications de Proust (1892-1971). Édition revue et augmentée. Nouvelle Revue Française. Paris: Éditions Gallimard, 1971.

  11. Works in translation:



    Marcel Proust: By Way of Saint-Beuve (1958)


  12. Proust, Marcel. By Way of Sainte-Beuve. Trans. Sylvia Townsend Warner. 1958. Introduction by Terence Kilmartin. London: The Hogarth Press, 1984.



  13. Marcel Proust: Jean Santeuil (1955)


  14. Proust, Marcel. Jean Santeuil. Trans. Gerard Hopkins. Preface by André Maurois. 1955. Penguin Modern Classics. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1985.



  15. Marcel Proust: Remembrance of Things Past (1922-30)


  16. Proust, Marcel. Remembrance of Things Past. 1913-27. Trans. C. K. Scott-Moncrieff & Andreas Mayor (1923-30; 1971):
    1. Swann's Way. 1913. Trans. C. K. Scott-Moncrieff. 1923. Introduction by Lewis Galantière. 1928. New York: Modern Library, 1956.
    2. Within a Budding Grove. 1919. Trans. C. K. Scott-Moncrieff. 1924. New York: The Modern Library, 1951.
    3. The Guermantes Way. 1920-21. Trans. C. K. Scott-Moncrieff. 1925. New York: The Modern Library, 1952.
    4. Cities of the Plain. 1921-22. 2 vols. Trans. C. K. Scott-Moncrieff. 1928. Illustrated by Philippe Jullian. London: Chatto & Windus, 1957.
    5. The Captive. 1923. Trans. C. K. Scott-Moncrieff. 1929. New York: The Modern Library, 1941.
    6. The Sweet Cheat Gone. 1925. Trans. C. K. Scott-Moncrieff. 1930. Vintage Books. New York: Random House, 1970.
    7. The Past Recaptured. 1927. Trans. Andreas Mayor. Vintage Books. New York: Random House, 1971.



  17. Marcel Proust: Remembrance of Things Past (1981)


  18. Proust, Marcel. Remembrance of Things Past. 1954. Trans. C. K. Scott Moncrieff & Andreas Mayor. 1923-30; 1971. Rev. Terence Kilmartin. 1981. Penguin Modern Classics. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1983.
    1. Swann’s Way / Within a Budding Grove
    2. The Guermantes Way / Cities of the Plain
    3. The Captive / The Fugitive / Time Regained



  19. Marcel Proust: In Search of Lost Time (2002)


  20. Proust, Marcel. In Search of Lost Time. Ed. Christopher Prendergast. 6 vols. Allen Lane. London: Penguin, 2002.
    1. The Way by Swann's. 1913. Trans. Lydia Davis
    2. In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower. 1919. Trans. James Grieve
    3. The Guermantes Way. 1920-21. Trans. Mark Treharne
    4. Sodom and Gomorrah. 1921-22. Trans. John Sturrock
    5. The Prisoner and The Fugitive. 1923 & 1925. Trans. Carol Clark & Peter Collier
    6. Finding Time Again. 1927. Trans. Ian Patterson



  21. Marcel Proust: The Collected Poems (2013)


  22. Proust, Marcel. The Collected Poems: A Dual-language Edition with Parallel Text. Ed. Claude Francis & Fernande Gontier. 1982. Ed. Harold Augenbraum. Trans. Lydia Davis, Richard Howard, Cole Swensen et al. Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition. New York: Penguin Books, 2013.

  23. Letters:



    Marcel Proust: Selected Letters (4 vols: 1983-2000)


  24. Proust, Marcel. Selected Letters. Volume One: 1880-1903. Ed. Philip Kolb. Trans. Ralph Manheim. Introduction by J. M. Cocking. 1983. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985.

  25. Proust, Marcel. Selected Letters. Volume Two: 1904-1909. Ed. Philip Kolb. Trans. Terence Kilmartin. London: William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd., 1989.

  26. Secondary:



    Céleste Albaret: Monsieur Proust (1983)


  27. Albaret, Céleste. Monsieur Proust: As Told to Georges Belmont. 1973. Trans. Barbara Bray. London: Collins and Harvill Press, 1976.



  28. Lorenza Foschini: Proust's Overcoat (2008)


  29. Foschini, Lorenza. Proust's Overcoat: The True Story of One Man's Passion for All Things Proust. 2008. Trans. Eric Karpeles. 2010. London: Portobello Books, 2011.

  30. Hindus, Milton. A Reader’s Guide to Marcel Proust. London: Thames & Hudson, 1962.



  31. Terence Kilmartin: A Guide to Proust (1983)


  32. Kilmartin, Terence, ed. A Guide to Proust: Remembrance of Things Past. London: Chatto & Windus / The Hogarth Press, 1983.



  33. André Maurois: The Quest for Proust (1949)


  34. Maurois, André. The Quest for Proust. 1949. Trans. Gerard Hopkins. 1950. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1962.

  35. Mein, Margaret. A Foretaste of Proust: A Study of Proust and His Predecessors. Saxon House. Farnborough, Hants, England: D. C. Heath Ltd., 1974.

  36. Painter, George D. Marcel Proust: A Biography. 1959 & 1965. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1983.



  37. Peter Quennell, ed.: Marcel Proust (1971)


  38. Quennell, Peter, ed. Marcel Proust, 1871-1922: A Centenary Volume. 1971. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1971.



  39. Jean-Yves Tadié: Marcel Proust: A Life (1996)


  40. Tadié, Jean-Yves. Marcel Proust: A Life. 1996. Trans. Euan Cameron. 2000. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2001.



3 comments:

Richard said...

Hi Jack I haven't read this over assiduously. I have never finished this book. But I have the Moncrieff- Kilmartin version. I find the prose of it quite beautiful. But it is a vast multivolume book. My daughter likes graphic novels and was reading the graphic novel version. I loved the one I got so much, I mean the prose, that I copied out about 20 pages by hand. Of course I cant read French at all so I am stuck.

Have you read the entire work? It is supposed to be one of the longest novels.

I know Lydia Davis writes a lot of short stories. I noted the improvement.

Which do you recommend. I have read Dante's Commedia in two versions. Sayers and, forget the other, I had it for years as as a teenager I recall Eliot always quoting Dante. So time permitting!! A reader can read all versions. I think the sheer length of it, no matter if it is shortened, puts people off. Unless they are big novel readers. Some people specialize in long, vast tomes. Which would you prioritise? James Joyce or Proust? They met briefly but not much transpired. Joyce refused to meet Stein as he disliked "bluestockings", hence his marriage to Nora Barnacle, who, interviewed and asked about her husband's lit. progress replied: 'Well, he thinks he's the best man writing books since that fellow in England who wrote them plays."

I'm on a Virginia Woolf jag. Read a short bio. of her and decided to read everything. I also got her letters and one vol (last) of her diaries as I wanted to do a letter section of my I.P. I added letters from Bertrand Russell's Autobiog. (only have Vol. One but the letters he got and his life is very interesting...Some of the letters, especially the one by the close to insane mathematician Cantor (who fascinates me and fascinated Russell with his infinite infinities, countable and otherwise, is amusing. But letters and journals in general I wanted to quote. Now I come to think of it, I feel that Proust's is a record of consciousnesss, following Bergson and his duree, as you mention.It is interesting that Bergson and Einstein engaged in a life long and beyond debate on the nature of time. It hasn't really been resolved. Proust tackled what we are advised not to: he focused on his own consciousness like perhaps Heidegger struggling with Being or Dasein. I think I will read a bit of Proust per day. I will have a closer look at your choices here. Moncrief sounds a little pompous (his answer to Proust was a bit ambiguous). But he obviously loved the book. But perhaps he let his idea of the book intrude....Hard to say.

You are doing good work here as always. As I say, I was diverted away into a sub aspect of what I was doing...Letters and journals. In a way, Proust's is just that.
Both Proust and Lawrence of 'Rainbow' were fascinated by Cathedrals. Perhaps Proust influenced Lawrence's use of a character who loved churches and cathedrals in Rainbow. It is considered one of the great works, despite the brick bats by the low brows who deign to watch television and things such as the grubby Monty Python....Gof forfend that you allow your students to mentions such awful crassness Jack! I wont have it!

Dr Jack Ross said...

Dear Richard,

I read the first volume in the Moncrieff version many years ago, then decided to make the experiment of trying to read the whole thing in French. It took me about a year, bit by bit. I hope to do so again sometime.

I don't think one should really see it as a choice between Proust and Joyce. Both have their merits and deserve our fullest attention. Joyce has the advantage of a livelier sense of humour, but there's a beauty and pathos to Proust's writing which is quite extraordinary.

At least there's now a decent translation in English, though. Scott-Moncrieff had his day, but his monopoly on the subject didn't really do anyone any good in the long run. The book is unfinished (or, rather, the second rewrite of the book was unfinished), so the last few volumes have been re-edited on a number of occasions, in different ways. There will never be an absolutely definitive text of Proust, as he didn't live long enough to provide it.

best, jack

Richard said...

Of course they were two different writers. I was reading Gide to know what he was about. Now I believe his Journal is his (about) the best thing. But it would indeed be Proust AND Joyce before say Gide for a serious scholar: but again, preferably all. (Of course as you prob. know Gide famously rejected Proust's script, then apologized later realising his erroneous lit. sense.)

Agree re Joyce. Often very funny, then suddenly profound. The biscuit tin incident in 'Ulysses' (I believe in the manner of Meredith, reflecting the Polyphemus incident in The Odyssey, Bloom (after Swift) speculating that the dead might be better buried vertically to save ground space!) And then: 'Thats' God.' 'What?' 'A shout in the street.' Never forget it, or: 'the snot-green sea'...And indeed it cant be Joyce versus Woolf either. Woolf is subtle, less laden with references, and also is closer perhaps to 'the real'. But they are different writers. Best to read 'em all. I have my edition so I'll try to read it.

But I'm kind or pleased you read it all slowly in French! Also a bit jealous. Schadenfreude that here's one book Jack hasn't read all those versions of, and pleased he has read the French version as that IS an achievement even for a language scholar such yourself.

But even in the edition I have, one senses the beauty, as with Dante, whatever translation, one senses I suppose Shakespeare: although he must be a bother to translate. But Beethoven and others read him.

The satire can only work on a great work: but it is still worth reading. Beckett and (someone else I was reading) did PhD's on Proust.

I looked again here. I can see why Davis is a bit better. Is she closer to what Proust was trying to convey? It is rhetorical, no need to reply, I think we have to learn to navigate a bit, and each of us try to learn something about Proust as well as read him. Strangely, or not, I don't think I have read much about Proust as a writer. Was it John Giono who studied Proust also? I read his book about Melville (a novel). All the best Jack.