Swann's Way : Remembrance of Things Past

  • by Marcel Proust
  • Narrated by Neville Jason
  • Series: Remembrance of Things Past
  • 21 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Remembrance of Things Past is one of the monuments of 20th-century literature. Neville Jason’s widely praised abridged version has rightly become an audiobook landmark, and now, upon numerous requests, he is recording the whole work unabridged which, when complete, will run for some 140 hours.
Swann’s Way is the first of seven volumes and sets the scene with the narrator’s memories being famously provoked by the taste of that little cake, the madeleine, accompanied by a cup of lime-flowered tea. It is an unmatched portrait of fin-de-siècle France.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.

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Customer Reviews

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Life, A User's Manual

To some extent writing about a single book in Marcel Proust's seven-part "À la recherché du temps perdu", more accurately translated as "In Search of Lost Time" but in Moncrieff's translation having the title "Remembrance of Things Past", is actually writing about the whole series. But since I am listening to the whole of it, I'll be writing about them individually as well.

I'm by no means unfamiliar with Proust, having read seven tenths of it in Finnish, my first language, in which it has been released in ten volumes instead of the original seven ("Swann's Way" is divided in two volumes, as is "Within a Budding Grove" and "Guermantes' Way"). It'll be, then, a nice experience to return to it and ultimately go all the way.

Proust's writing works wonderfully in the audiobook format. The way his language builds up, all the allegories and metaphors stacked upon each other and how the currents of thought swerve having been recalled by any minute detail, all this works beautifully when one reads the book but exceptionally well when one is read to. In this respect Neville Jason's narration is superb. He takes his time, not procrastinating but certainly not hurrying.

Equally importantly his reading brings out the humour in Proust. And what a hoot this book really is! The dinner party at Combray and a certain episode about complementing the wine brought by Swann is hilarious on page and is really brought to life when heard out loud. Many other instances work just as wonderfully, including the Verdurin episodes in all their glorious absurdity.

And then there's Swann himself and his love and infatuation for Odette. At the same time fervent, life-affirming, destructive and inescapable, the irrationality with which Proust paints Swann's actions, or rather, the movements of his soul, only reinforces the believability of his neurotic obsession. His story is framed by the Narrator's own insecurity in love, first toward his mother at Combray, then for Gilberte.

I know how I'll be spending my next credits.
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- Antti

Hard going as an audiobook

This is undoubtedly a great classic, though one that requires patience and concentration. It's all in the detail and minutiae, the process of remembering and trying to capture fleeting impressions and feelings from the narrator's childhood and then the perspective of Swann. The canvas is small but the detail incredibly rich, like a Persian miniature, and for the audiobook, Neville Jason does a great job to narrate with unflagging passion and feeling over such a sustained period. I must confess, however, that I drifted off quite often, and found it hard to maintain interest compared to other books where a more muscular plot pulls you along without effort. On the upside, it's split into 10 minute sections so you can swallow it down like medicine once or twice a day before switching to something easier going.
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- Mr

Book Details

  • Release Date: 08-02-2012
  • Publisher: Naxos AudioBooks