Swann's Way (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) [NOOK Book]

Overview



Swann's Way, by Marcel Proust, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of ...
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Swann's Way (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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Overview



Swann's Way, by Marcel Proust, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:
  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.

 

Swann’s Way is the first novel of Marcel Proust’s seven-volume magnum opus À la rechercheé du temps perdu, or Remembrance of Things Past. Following Charles Swann’s opening ruminations about the nature of sleep is one of twentieth-century literature’s most famous and influential scenes: the eating of the madeleine soaked in a “decoction of lime-flowers,” the associative act from which the remainder of the narrative unfurls. After elaborate reminiscences about Swann’s childhood in Paris and rural Combray, Proust describes his protagonist’s exploits in nineteenth-century privileged Parisian society and his obsessive love for young socialite Odette de Crécy.

 

Filled with searing, insightful, and humorous criticisms of French society, this novel showcases Proust’s innovative prose style, characterized by lengthy, intricate sentences that elongate, stop, and reverse time. With narration that alternates between first and third person, Swann’s Way unconventionally introduces Proust’s recurring themes of memory, love, art, and the human experience—and for nearly a century readers have deliciously savored each moment.

 

Elizabeth Dalton is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Barnard College. She has published fiction and criticism in the New Yorker, Partisan Review, Commentary, and the New York Times Book Review.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781411433229
  • Publisher: Barnes & Noble
  • Publication date: 6/1/2009
  • Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 512
  • Sales rank: 114,028
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Dalton is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Barnard College. She has published fiction and criticism in the New Yorker, Partisan Review, Commentary, and the New York Times Book Review.

Biography

Born to a wealthy family, iconic French writer Marcel Proust (1871-1922) studied law and literature. His social connections allowed him to become an observant habitué of the most exclusive drawing rooms of the nobility, and he wrote social pieces for Parisian journals. He published essays and stories, including the story collection Pleasures and Days (1896). He had suffered from asthma since childhood, and c. 1897 he began to disengage from social life as his health declined.

Half-Jewish himself, he became a major supporter of Alfred Dreyfus in the affair that made French anti-Semitism into a national issue. Deeply affected by his mother's death in 1905, he withdrew further from society. An incident of involuntary revival of childhood memory in 1909 led him to retire almost totally into an eccentric seclusion in his cork-lined bedroom to write À la recherche du temps perdu (in English: In Search of Lost Time or Remembrance of Things Past ). Published between 1913 and 1927, the vast seven-part novel is at once a kind of autobiography, a vast social panorama of France in the years just before and during World War I, and an immense meditation on love and jealousy and on art and its relation to reality. One of the supreme achievements in fiction of all time, it brought him worldwide fame and affected the entire climate of the 20th-century novel. Biography from Encyclopedia Britannica

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    1. Date of Birth:
      July 10, 1871
    2. Place of Birth:
      Auteuil, near Paris, France
    1. Date of Death:
      November 18, 1922
    2. Place of Death:
      Paris, France

Read an Excerpt


From Elizabeth Dalton’s Introduction to Swann’s Way

 

Swann’s Way is a novel of the rediscovery of experience through memory, of desire and disillusionment, and of the development of an artistic vocation. In its best-known scene, perhaps the most celebrated in modern literature, the narrator tastes the madeleine, the little cake dipped in tea that opens the magical gates of time and memory.

A beautiful and fascinating novel in itself, Swann’s Way is also the introduction to the great seven-part work Remembrance of Things Past, which is a kind of paradise of the novel, one of the greatest works of fiction of the twentieth century. The French title of the larger work, À la recherche du temps perdu, actually means “In Search of Lost Time,” suggesting, as the English title does not, the narrator’s mental and moral activity in search of the meaning of his experience in time.

As Swann’s Way begins, the narrator, a man apparently in early middle age, describes sleepless nights and fragmentary dreams in which bits of his past drift through his consciousness. Amid memories of illness, of lonely nights in strange rooms, of illusory loves, he wakes in darkness, no longer sure where or even who he is. Frightened and disoriented, he is rescued by another kind of memory, “like a rope let down from heaven to draw me up out of the abyss of not-being,” the “involuntary memory” lodged in the body that will eventually give him access to a forgotten past. In recalling the various scenes of his life, his thoughts return again and again to the village of Combray, where he spent childhood vacations with his family. In these memories, he finds the deepest layer of his “mental soil,” the very source of his being.

            As the seven novels are actually all parts of one longer novel, broken somewhat arbitrarily into volumes by the requirements of publication, so Swann’s Way is also made up of parts. The first two could stand alone, although juxtaposed in one volume they illuminate each other. The first section, “Combray,” is concerned with the narrator’s childhood world, whose characters and events are the source of everything to follow, and with the powerful experience of memory that revives this forgotten past. The second section, “Swann in Love,” set in Paris about ten years before “Combray,” is the account of a love affair of Charles Swann, an important figure in the narrator’s childhood, whose experience prefigures his own later life. In the third section, “Place-Names: The Name,” which moves forward in time to a point slightly later than the Combray years, the narrator reflects on the idealized and unreal essences contained in the names of places, develops an adolescent passion for Swann’s daughter, and says a premature good-bye to the world of his youth—premature because he will reenter that world in subsequent volumes.

            The structure of Swann’s Way is obviously not that of the classical nineteenth-century novel, which generally follows the chronological order of the events of a plot. In Proust’s novel, however, blocks of writing are juxtaposed, added on, loosely connected, forming a chain of episodes and reflections related in an intuitive and subjective rather than a logical or chronological mode. This structure emerged from Proust’s struggle to find a form for his work, a new and personal kind of novel that could combine fiction, autobiography, and reflections on art and society. The form of “Combray” in particular is based on Proust’s distinctive way of writing about different experiences in nearly self-contained sections linked by association rather than along a single line of narrative. The second section, “Swann inn Love,” does follow a single narrative line, but the force that drives it is neither chronology nor plot, but the demonic energy of erotic obsession.

            The novel’s structure has been compared to that of a musical composition, held together by recurring motifs of theme and imagery. Another analogy, to some form of vegetation, is suggested by the gardens and flowers that bloom profusely throughout “Combray” and find their way into the other sections as well. The lush, tangled narrative lines, with their buried horizontal connections that disappear for a time and then reappear, are like the roots of plants running underground.

            In the classical Aristotelian structure of Western drama and fiction, incidents are organized in a plot that accumulates tension, leading to a climactic resolution. But in Proust’s novel, episodes are added on without adding up, without ever achieving a totalizing structure of meaning, what the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze, in his semiotic study Proust and Signs, calls “the pseudo-unity of the Logos” (p.111; see “For Further Reading”). If the classical structure is envisioned as pyramidal, building up to a final revelation of meaning, Proust’s structure looks more like a web, with incidents all on the same plane. Or perhaps the structure is like that of a labyrinth, the maze of experience in a world without final meaning. Indeed, the topography of Combray and its surroundings forms a kind of labyrinth, with its two meandering paths, Swann’s way and the Guermantes’ way, that lead the narrator along the paths of experience—nature, sex, snobbery, hypocrisy, and so on—without ever connecting with each other or reaching their mysterious end points.

            The structure of the novel also evokes an image of the labyrinth of consciousness, which is explored in a style almost as complex and ramified as the mind itself. In Swann’s Way there is a passage describing the phrases of Chopin, “those long-necked, sinuous creatures, . . . so free, so flexible, so tactile, which begin by seeking their ultimate resting-place somewhere beyond and far wide of the direction in which they started, the point which one might have expected them to reach, phrases which divert themselves in . . . fantastic bypaths,” but which always find their way back to their appointed conclusions. In an essay on Proust in Études de style, the critic Leo Spitzer has pointed out that this passage could apply as well to Proust’s own sentences, those extraordinarily strong and flexible instruments for the representation of mental life in all its layered complexity.

            Although it goes further than its predecessors, Proust’s rigorous and nuanced dissection of the psyche is rooted in a rich strain of psychological analysis in French literature—the self-examination of Montaigne’s essays, Racine’s probing of the passions, the painful self-revelations of Baudelaire—as well as in a French tradition of revealing autobiography, including Rousseau’s Confessions and Chateaubriand’s Mémoires d’outre-tombe (Memoirs from Beyond the Tomb). The dark and obsessional quality of sexual passion and the strange juxtaposition of elements in the souls of Proust’s characters—the mixture of timidity and sadism in Mlle Vinteuil, for instance—suggests his affinity for Dostoevsky. But his main source was his understanding of himself. Like Freud in The Interpretation of Dreams, Proust analyzes above all his own psychic life.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 41 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 14, 2011

    First Volume of an unprecedented achievement in literature

    Proust was a master architect of sentences and characters. He rips down the veneer of French civilization and offers a revelation in insight on human behavior. When Virginia Woolf first read this novel, she nearly gave up the profession of writing because she felt no author could ever produce a better work than Proust had achieved in Swann's Way. Upon reading this book, my passion for literature was revivified and made anew--though it is challenging at parts, it offers great rewards. To anyone that loves reading, this is an imperative literary journey.

    12 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2008

    Proust's prose

    I'm in gratuate school for history, 95% of the reading I do is non-fiction, most people would find my reading boring, dull and/or very dry. I take a break by reading fiction, mostly the classics. When I want to relax I read Proust, I find his prose mesmerizing. If he wrote ten pages on flipping and egg I would read it. To me the story is secondary. If you enjoy the pleasure of reading the written word this is it.

    7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2012

    Not happy.

    The formatting is distracting. I will be dumping this for one that is easier to read.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Swann's Way (Davis Translation)

    Proust's work is now available in a translation that is not dull or coy. This translation is better than the Moncrieff -Kilmartin translation. Read this book and find out why Nabokov called Proust wisdom in literature.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2014

    N

    My teacher said this is an amazing book with great details and it feels like your in a dream i dont have a dought that im not going to mind spending money on this book : )

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 16, 2013

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2013

    love the swan's wa

    always a pleasure

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 4, 2011

    Great book.

    Full of enchantment and beauty.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 19, 2011

    The ebook is not the Davis translation.

    It's a good thing it was only a buck.

    0 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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