“Proust so titillates my own desire for expression that I can hardly set out the sentence. Oh if I could write like that! I cry. And at the moment such is the astonishing vibration and saturation and intensification that he procures—there’s something sexual in it—that I feel I can write like that, and seize my pen and then I can’t write like that. Scarcely anyone so stimulates the nerves of language in me: it becomes an obsession. But I must return to Swann.
“My great adventure is really Proust. Well—what remains to be written after that? I’m only in the first volume, and there are, I suppose, faults to be found, but I am in a state of amazement; as if a miracle were being done before my eyes. How, at last, has someone solidified what has always escaped—and made it too into this beautiful and perfectly enduring substance? One has to put the book down and gasp. The pleasure becomes physical—like sun and wine and grapes and perfect serenity and intense vitality combined. Far otherwise is it with Ulysses; to which I bind myself like a martyr to a stake, and have thank God, now finished—My martyrdom is over.
“The thing about Proust is his combination of the utmost sensibility with the utmost tenacity. He searches out these butterfly shades to the last grain. He is as tough as catgut and as evanescent as a butterfly’s bloom.”- Virginia Woolf on Proust
In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust is a mammoth work, seen by many as THE Novel, filled with artistic and philosophical musings, it is a masterpiece said to manifest the rarest of literary achievements: that it can in fact change your life.
With long, lyrical sentences and a ground-breaking conception of time and narration, Proust's magnum opus on loss, mortality and the futility of time past, allows the reader to see the world in an entirely new way. Every page has moments of "How does he know that?!" where you a Truth - both eternal and everyday - presented with surprising humour and almost annoyingly beautiful prose.
At over 4,300 pages and 1.25 million words to read In Search of Lost Time is no small feat. The protagonist of the novel spends much of the work struggling to write for himself and it is at the end of the book that he begins to do so, realising that Time can only be mastered at all through Art.
The work can be seen as a gospel in seeing the world for yourself and responding to it as only you can.