Proust: I can’t believe I read the whole thing

At 9:20 AM Tue, 15 Nov 2011 I finished reading the whole of Proust’s In Search of Lost Time. ¬†What began as a project born of vanity ended with gratitude that I had lived long enough to finish it, and of course, enjoyment and admiration.

Published in: on November 15, 2011 at 10:38 am  Comments (2)  


The weather has taken a turn toward the spectacular in Chicago. Sunny and warm. That is the way western Europe was when I was traveling there. I did not take a jacket with me on the trip. The first day I spilled coffee on the only sweater I brought. So, I had to buy a jacket in Amsterdam. It was not easy finding a jacket that fit my stunning geezer figure, but I eventually did. It served me well and still does this fall in Chicago.

I did my usual over packing for the trip. I should have taken a better look at the Amsterdam, Bruges, and Brussels guidebook I took on the trip. It had a complete checklist of what to pack for the trip. I could have dispensed with more than half the clothes I took and done laundry along the way, which I did one night in Brussels anyway.

I lost some weight on the trip. Hiking about from early morning until late at night helped, for I certainly was not watching my diet.

One night in Brussels, I was tempted to go to a chess club I found via the Internet. I was tired though, and I felt my game would not be up to par against opponents who would obviously be much better than me. Next time though…

The European TV news during the trip was almost exclusively about the housing and financial panic. Right after I returned home, the markets took their worst tumble. I moved my major retirement savings from stocks to money market funds just before it happened. I am a lucky SOB.

I read Proust on the trip during the early hours of morning and late at night. I read almost the whole of The Captive, the part where the narrator holds Albertine captive in his apartment by his pathological jealousy over and suspicions of her lesbianism. Jealousy was much on mind for other reasons during the trip, so his observations about love and jealousy moved me emotionally more than it might have at other times. Then there are those long elegant Proustian sentences, sentences crammed with so many ideas one gets lost in them until one finds the proper gate to keep pace. It took me a long time to acquire a taste for Proust, but now that I have, I consider him one of my favorite writers, or even philosophers if I might be allowed to place him in that category.

I started writing this morning just before sunrise. The writing felt good as Hemingway might say. As the sky brightened, I thought about how it is better to have loved and lost then not to have loved at all. I sincerely believe it true. Love is often portrayed as a journey. The metaphor is apt in many ways. We never really know where love ends or if it ever ends. Even after we are dead, a loved one may encounter an event that triggers a memory of a good time they had with us. Naturally, as the generations pass on, memories of us pass on with them. However, I take spiritual comfort from knowing that the flames of our candles linger a bit longer beyond the grave. Eternity does not interest me much. It is enough to have been loved along the way.

Published in: on October 31, 2008 at 10:36 am  Leave a Comment  

On the terrace

Yes, I’m sitting on a hotel terrace high above the street on a warm cloudless late afternoon and reading Proust in Paris. And I wonder how life could be any better. Bringing Proust to read in Europe was a stroke of genius on my part, for reading Proust is always an act of forgetting and remembering for me, and certainly longing and desire overcome me.

Published in: on September 27, 2008 at 10:41 am  Comments (1)