The Remembrance of Things Past, Part Three: Swann in Love

This slim book is the third volume published to date in St‚phane Heuet’s witty and surprising graphic novel treatment of Proust’s masterpiece. Covering the first sections of Swann in Love, it details Swann’s meeting with Odette, their extended flirtation amid the glittering social gatherings hosted by the Verdurins at their home in the Faubourg Saint-Germain, and the first inking of Odette’s distraction and Swann’s jealously. As in the earlier installments in Heuet’s ambitious comics treatment of the novel, one is at first gladdened by the insouciance of the attempt, then charmed by it cleverness. But, as one charts the clauses of Proustian etiquette through the graphic ordering of Heuet’s narrative, one recognizes that there is more than mere cleverness at work. Indeed, the surprise comes from the powerful impressions left by Proust’s delineations of class, character, and desire even when they are stripped of the embrace of his enfolding sentences. Still, there is nothing quite like the words of the master himself, and Heuet’s rendering of the tale they tell is never more welcome than when it sends us back to Proust’s pages with an almost giddy eagerness, as in the panels devoted to Swann’s infatuation with a musical phrase. –