Remembrance of Things Past is one of the monuments of 20th-century literature. Neville Jason’s unabridged recording of the work runs to 150 hours. Time Regained is the final volume. Lost in the blacked-out streets of Paris during the First World War, Marcel stumbles into a brothel and accidentally witnesses a shocking scene involving the Baron de Charlus. Later, at a reception given by the Prince de Guermates, his meditations on the passage of time lead to his determination to embark on his life's work at last. 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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What can I say that hasn't been already stated in the reviews I've written for the other six volumes? I started listening to "The Swann's Way" in June 2013, and now, 2 years and 5 months later, the sense of despair that had first replaced that initial sense of excitement and ambition is long gone. There's the sense of sadness, like seeing a loved one leave, or that sense of grateful, reverential awe one might feel when looking at the stars at night, and wondering about our smallness in the vastness of space and the universe.
"In Search of Lost Time" is an impossible work, so accessible in its inaccessibility, a marvel to behold, let alone think that it exists at all, that there was a man like Proust to create art like it.
There's so much enjoyment in not only the universally grand but the minutiae of a moment that it's like reading a vast catalog of humanity and still facing a haiku by Bashô. I wrote of "The Guermantes Way," my favourite of the whole series, that it has "the most devastating tableau of sickness, withering and death." But whereas in the earlier volumes death has been a personal guest, visiting the families through illness, this time death is afar in the rumbling of the bombers, and in the trenches. In this volume, men simply disappear from the world having died in the war, or deteriorate into beings that are mere shadows of their former selves. Proust makes his primary theme, time, work powerfully, through this inevitability of life, as all of his characters, without overt drama, simply play their part on his stage for a time and fade as the predestined curtain falls, and with it the perennial darkness.
I'm already almost halfway through Tolstoy's "War and Peace," likewise narrated by Neville Jason. What a man! Thanks to him, we have Proust, unabridged, available to us wherever we go. I like that thought a lot, since having read and listened to Proust, one starts to feel that we carry him with us anyway, such an interpreter he is of the ebbing and flowing of what makes us human.