“Back in Paris in the May of the following year, how often I was to buy a sprig of apple from a flower-shop, then spend the night hours in the presence of its blossom, which was steeped in the same creamy essence as the frothy dust on the unopened leaf-buds…”– Marcel Proust, In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower
In Part 1 of Volume 2 of “In Search of Lost Time”, we meet the narrator, who is now in his early teens and is in love with Gilberte Swann, and is at the same time infatuated with her mother, Odette Swann. In Part 2, while on vacation to the fictional (?) resort town of Balbec, the narrator spends the majority of his time people-watching because of his poor health. Eventually he falls in love with the titular “Young Girls in Flower”, but in the end chooses one.
I preferred Volume 1 to Volume 2 but I am in no way taking away the brilliance of Proust’s writing. I am now comfortable with his very long sentences and I don’t have to concentrate on them as much as before. I do tend to read his writing a lot slower than my usual speed because I enjoy the language, the imagery and the soothing nature of his descriptions.I enjoyed his introspective musings on love and the process of falling in and out of love. Even if I didn’t quite agree with all his ideas,I could see how his thought process works, and that was fascinating to me. Proust gives us a lot to think about, for example in the following quote:
“But it is difficult for any of us to gauge the scale on which others register our acts and words; for fear of seeing ourselves as over-important, and by magnifying hugely the dimensions to which other people’s memories must stretch if they are to cover a lifetime, we imagine that all the peripheral aspects of our speech and gestures make little imprint on the consciousness of the people we talk to, let alone stay in their memory.”
2 volumes down, 5 to go! I plan on reading at least 2 more by the end of the year.