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.
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Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Antti on 11-08-13
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.
13 of 13 people found this review helpful
By Andrew on 02-12-13
Unparalleled reading of a great book
If you could sum up Swann's Way in three words, what would they be?
Memory and time.
Who was your favorite character and why?
Swann - fascinating to see his character develop over the course of the book and how his relationship with Odette turns out.
Which scene did you most enjoy?
It would be invidious to choose. The book needs to be taken as a whole (and as part of the overall series). It is not just about "scenes", but interpretations and re-interpretations and linkages and philosophical and social musings.
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
A long book (and series) so pacing is important. Audio allowed me to race (relatively speaking) through the whole series as I could listen while walking, on trains etc.
Any additional comments?
It deserves its high reputation. Some, but relatively few, longeurs once you accept the way the book unfolds and get into the flow which becomes addictive. The central themes are as relevant now as when written. I was not sure how I would take to Neville Jason after hearing the free taster. He rapidly grew on me and gives what I think is an outstanding, nuanced performance, with appropriate characterisation. Clear and warm diction, easy to understand and follow as complex, long sentences were worked through with sufficient forward momentum. His voice is now Marcel Proust for me!
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Nancy on 19-02-13
Absolutely captivating and stunning. The narration is outstanding - a delight to listen to and extremely well modulated. Do not allow pre-conceived notions regrading Proust hinder your taking this most worthy journey...cannot wait to continue the series.
18 of 18 people found this review helpful
By Darwin8u on 24-02-13
Not a book one reads but inhabits & floats through
For years, I have put off reading Proust mainly because the size of In Search of Lost Time/Remembrance of Things Past seemed intimidating. Now, having finished Swann's Way: Vol 1, I feel a compelling need to keep going.
This novel is preoccupied with all the details that surround time, desire, love, memory, happiness, life, truth, names and relationships. It is vivid, detailed and reminds the reader to look, feel, grab, smell, think, confess, and take big risks to grow that one perfect, mystic blossom of love.
Proust's prose is beautiful, his imagery is brilliant and he seems to swing for the fence on every page. This is not a book one reads, but one inhabits and floats through. But first one must find and dip your own Madeleine.
Neville's reading is brilliant.
45 of 48 people found this review helpful