Swann's Way is Marcel Proust's literary masterpiece and the first part of the multivolume audiobook Remembrance of Things Past.
In the opening volume, the narrator travels back in time to recall his childhood and to introduce the listener to Charles Swann, a wealthy friend of the family and celebrity in the Parisian social scene. He again travels back, this time to the youth of Charles Swann in the French town of Combray, to tell the story of the love affair that took place before his own birth. The jealous love that Swann feels for the courtesan Odette, is a foretelling of the narrator's own future relationships.
Proust paints an unforgettable, scathing and at times comic portrait of French society at the close of the 19th century and reveals a profound vision of obsessive love. The remarkable details from his memory are the fundamental triumph of the audiobook; details like his younger self's desperate need for a goodnight kiss from his mother.
In 1922, Virginia Woolf marvelled, 'Oh if I could write like that!'
Many adaptations have been made of Swann's Way including the 1984 English language film, Swann in Love, starring Jeremy Irons, and a graphic novel by French comic artist Stéphane Heuet that was first published in 1998.
Whilst training at the Birmingham School of Speech and Drama, John Rowe did his first radio plays for the BBC before spending several years acting in repertory theatre. He then joined the BBC's Radio Drama Company at Broadcasting House and after a three year stint on stage with the Prospect Company at The Old Vic he became a committed radio actor. He is well known for his role as Professor Jim Lloyd in The Archers. He has not only worked extensively in radio but also in television and film, as well as narrating many audiobooks, including Within a Budding Grove by Marcel Proust. His film appearances have included The Heart of Me (2002) and Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India (2001). He has most recently appeared on onscreen in the Netflix series The Crown (2016) and the BBC TV series Broken (2017).
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Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Mrs C Sampson-Dunmore on 30-10-16
Proust's writing is exquisitive. This is the most consuming, sensual, imagery-dense novel I have ever had the pleasure of reading. The novelist's insight and understanding of human nature is compelling. I want to live in France and drink tea and eat madeleines, while reading this over and over again.
John Rowe's narration is glorious (I listened as I read the book). Rowe made a dense text captivating and accessible. I could listen to him reading for many more hours.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
By T. ROBINSON on 29-12-17
BY FAR THE BEST READING OF PROUST
What did you like most about Remembrance of Things Past?
I'd strongly recommend this edition as a great way into Proust's literary epic work - it's far easier to listen to and take in than the Neville Jason vserion. I would recommend this performance every bit as highly as Jim Norton's superlative reading of Joyce's Ulysses.
Who was your favorite character and why?
The Narrator is never definitively named, but his account of growing up, learning about art, participating in society, and falling in love is the central narrative amid his observations of the huge cast of supporting chracters he candidly observes through the book.
What does John Rowe bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?
I'd already bought the Neville Jason readings of the whole series, and found it pretty heavy going. But now, having heard the John Rowe version, it's clear that this was down to Mr Jason's rather pompous and dreary delivery. The text is pretty densely written, and pretty hard to take in on the page. But John Rowe brings it to life brllliantly with this natural-sounding reading - just compare the audio samples from the different versions and you'll hear the difference for yourself.
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
You couldn't possibly listen to Swann's Way in a single sitting. It's more a book that you can dip into and out of - the language is so rich, it's like swimming in chocolate
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Maggie on 18-08-10
Proust's writing is perfect and John Rowe's delivery is perfect. settle into Swann's Way (Pt. 1 and Pt 2) as though you were settling into a huge comfy chair with all the time in the world stretched out before you and you will NEVER regret the time spent listening to this version of volume 1 of In Search of Lost Time. to the contrary. you will quickly purchase the other volumes, cancel all appointments, turn off the phone, give up on facebook, and listen with awe and keen interest to John Rowe read Marcel Proust. what more could a book and an audiobook deliver?! the time is most definitely not lost. ohmygoodness.
26 of 27 people found this review helpful
By Caryl on 12-05-10
What a pleasure!
Having lost my energy to read Proust a couple of times in the past I am thrilled to have discovered the audible version. The narrator is superb, weaving those amazingly long sentences into a web that mesmerizes the listener while subtly clarifying meaning. What a pleasure this is! Thank you Audible.
20 of 21 people found this review helpful