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Posts Tagged ‘Swann’s Way

Remembrance of Paintings Past…

Giotto’s frescoes Charity, Envy, and Justice (1304-6)

Throughout his seven-volume A la recherche du temps perdu– in his attempts to describe scenes and emotions, to help elucidate a point, to sharpen an image, or simply as a subject in itself – Proust would time and again turn to the visual arts.

As Proust says in Volume One, Du côté de chez Swann (Swann’s Way), “it is only through art that we can escape from ourselves and know how another person sees a universe which is not the same as our own and whose landscapes would otherwise have remained as unknown as any there may be on the moon.” He mentions more than a hundred painters from the 14th through the 20th century– making his novel, as artist Eric Karpeles points out, “one of the most profoundly visual works in Western literature.”

As a celebration of the centennial of its publication, Public Domain Review has put together a few highlights of Proust’s many mentions of artworks to be found in the first volume, Swann’s Way, in which the narrator uses the art to “illustrate” his experiences growing up, participating in society, falling in love– and indeed, learning about art.

(The translations are from C.K. Scott Moncrieff’s English translation, available here on project Gutenberg, in the public domain. PDR acknowledges its debt to Karpeles’ exquisite Paintings in Proust, a book for which readers should reach.)


As we manipulate our madeleines, we might send dark, but heartfelt birthday greetings to Proust’s literary contemporary Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski, or as he’s better known to English readers, Joesph Conrad; he was born on this date in 1857.  An early modernist who spoke and wrote in three languages (his native Polish, French, and English), he imported a non-English diction and tragic sense to his work, which included Heart of Darkness, Lord Jim, Nostromo, 17 other novels, and dozens of short stories.  A success in his own time, Conrad’s influence grew; he’s been cited as a formative influence on writers including D. H. Lawrence, F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, George Orwell, Graham Greene, Malcolm Lowry, William Golding, William S. Burroughs, Joseph Heller, Italo Calvino, Gabriel García Márquez, J. G. Ballard, John le Carré, V.S. Naipaul, Philip Roth, Hunter S. Thompson, J.M. Coetzee, and Salman Rushdie.


Written by LW

December 3, 2013 at 1:01 am

Amazing covers for Amazing Stories (and other magazines)…

Clintriter (Glenn Harris) has given us the gift of his collection of vintage speculative fiction magazine covers…  the wonder!  the awe!

Marvel at them all here.

As we get down with our inner Jules Verne, we might run in gleeful circles– on this date in 1912, Keystone Pictures premiered Hoffmeyer’s Release, the first Keystone Kops picture.

Keystone Kops (The policeman at the left in extreme background is Edgar Kennedy; the hefty officer at extreme right is Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle.)

But while comic genius Mack Sennett’s career took off, another important artist was stalled:  on precisely that same day, Nouvelle Revue Francaise, rejected an excerpt from Remembrance of Things Past (or, as the translation is now somewhat better known, In Search of Lost Time).  Following a series of similar rejections, Marcel Proust was reduced to publishing his first volume, Swann’s Way, at his own expense the following year.  Thankfully for Alain de Botton (and us), it was a great success.

The Master of the Madeleine

Here begineth your correspondent’s annual hiatus, the period when the responsibilities of the Holidays and the exigencies of travel overwhelm his (already marginal) capacity to focus…  There will likely be a post or three over the next ten days or so, but these missives will resume regularly early in the next decade.  (“Next decade”…  has a nice ring, doesn’t it?)

Meantime, Happy Holidays!

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