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A challenge and a pleasure at the same proportion - To read Marcel Prousts Remembrance of Things Past is a pleasure and a challenge in the same proportion that any brave read can have. Not only is it a hard task, but also a very pleasant one. The book is written in such a way that readers are transported to another time and place, and get to know the characters as if they were old friends of ours. Of course, if it werent like that, not many people would dare to try and read the seven novels that compound the whole series. But Proust is a master to keep your interested glued to his words. Even when this words are in a paragraph that lasts four pages. Swanns Way is the first novel and it is a blessing and a curse at the same time. It is good because everything is new to us, so the nameless narrator takes his time to explain a lot of things, introduce people, describe places and the action is built up bit by bit. On the other hand, the reader is not used to Proust style and when we come across a paragraph that lasts four pages we get scared. To make things more complicated, when he was writing Remembrance of Things Past Proust wanted to make a novel, but he also wanted to philosophize. Therefore, there is a lot of philosophy in his books. At first this device seems to be difficult to understand, to get the gist, but with time, one gets used to it, and is able to realize that were not supposed to read this books in the same way we read any other novel. Prousts work is about senses. He does not expect you to understand everything he is saying. His narrative is not cumulative. What he wants, in fact, is to make his reader feel what he was saying, to feel things like time passing through our lives and its effects on our memories. Bearing this in mind, any reader is able to focus on the poetic narrative and the authors idea rather than understanding the events. Of course there is a plot in the book, but there are things that are more important to produce the effect Proust wanted. Swanns Way begins with the nameless narrator remembering experiences from his childhood in Combray. But the largest section of the novel is not about him, but about Swann, a friend of his family. Fifteen years before the events described in the first part, Swann felt in love with Odette, a woman with a terrible reputation. And this love affair will affect his life forever. Despite Prousts language being evocative, it is not difficult to understand his sentences. His work is replete of references and allusions, mostly to visual arts, namely painting. Some descriptions are like the works of Monet and Botticelli. The writer also has interest in literature. The main character relationship to his mother echoes works as Oedipus Rex. Qualities like these make Remembrance of Things Past one of the most important works produced ever. With his caldron of references, ideas and images, Proust has created one of the most beloved works from the XX Century. It is certain that this series of books will be read for many many years to come, and will be seen as a definition of what we used to think.
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