For the uninitiated, Marcel Proust’s work can be intimidating, not to mention off-putting in length. Clocking in at over 4,000 pages and filled with sentences that read like prose poems, his masterpiece, À la recherche du temps perdu, would put a dent in the Goodreads challenge of even the most committed readers. Why, then, should we turn off Netflix and make the effort?
In his new book, Living And Dying With Marcel Proust, Christopher Prendergast, eminent literary scholar and Proust aficionado, gives us an emphatic answer. Twelve emphatic answers, in fact, with each chapter engagingly and passionately exploring themes or connections that can be made throughout Proust’s work. Writing under headings such as ‘Breasts and Cheeks’ and ‘Croissants and Coffee, for a Change’, Prendergast is excellent company. This is literary criticism at its most fleet-footed: curious, wide-ranging, and yes, funny.
Due to the specific plot points that receive analysis, those who have read Proust’s work will undoubtedly get the most out of this book, but there is also a lot here for those who have not yet made the journey. Brushing away the dust of bone-dry scholarship, Prendergast brings the work, and the great man himself, to life.
Living And Dying With Marcel Proust, Christopher Prendergast (Europa Editions)
Price: £16.99. Info: here
words JOSHUA REES
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