Books About Proust's
Marcel Proust's Search for Lost Time: A
Reader's Guide to The Remembrance of Things
Past. New York: Vintage, 2009.
It's true, Proust's novel can be a daunting
read. This guide is all a reader needs to get a
solid handle on "what happens in Proust,"
"who's who" in the novel, and to understand
the relevant socio-historical and biographical contexts.
Proust Among the Stars. New York:
Columbia UP, 1998.
Who ever thought thematic criticism could ever be so
intellectually satisfying, delightful, insightful,
and so damn well-written. Bowie writes with
poise and passion. One of the best of recent Proust
studies for any reader.
de Botton, Alain.
How Proust Can Change Your Life: Not a
Novel. New York: Pantheon, 1997.
Part literary biography, part self-help manual, this
book draws maxims for living from Proust's
fiction, essays, and correspondence. Chapters
include "How to Suffer Successfully,"
"How to Be Happy in Love," and "How
to Put Books Down." While this might initially
sound reductive--a novelty act riding the recent
wave of interest in Proust--de Botton is finely
attuned to the subtlety of Proust's thought.
This is a sophisticated and intimate little volume
that can well serve as an introduction to Proust,
and my hope is that it does, in fact, lead readers
to experience Proust's novel directly. My
favorite passage is: "It should not be
Illiers-Combray that we visit: a genuine homage to
Proust would be to look at our world
though his eyes, not to look at
his world through our
Paintings in Proust: A Visual Companion to In Search
of Lost Time. London: Thames & Hudson,
I like to think that this project was inspired by
the The Novel & the Visual
Arts pages of this site. What a beautiful book!
The dust jacket says it as good as I could:
"Karpele's lavishly illustrated guide
offers a feast for the eyes as it celebrates the
close relationship between the visual and literary
arts in Proust's masterpiece. Karpeles has
identified and located all of the paintings to which
Proust makes exact reference. Where only a
painter's name is mentioned to indicate a
certain mood or appearance, he has chosen a
representative work to illustrate the impression
that Proust sought to evoke." This is a volume
any serious reader of Proust's novel would be
happy to have at hand; the visual dimension of the
work can now be appreciated in full.
Proust's Way: A Field Guild to In Search of Lost
Time. New York: Norton, 2000.
Shattuck's guide is at times brilliant, at
others, pedantic. The opening chapters about
Proust's life and ways to approach the novel are
surprisingly the best--an excellent resource for
beginning Proust readers, and I recommended
them. The middle chapters reprint
Shattuck's work from over thirty years ago, and
are not that interesting. Chapter VIII,
"Continuing Disputes," contains some
useful information for scholars about the current
state of Proust studies.
Online review at:
The New York Times on the Web.