Living and Dying with Proust
A lifetime's reading of Proust's masterpiece
"A work buzzing with appetite and curiosity . . . no Proustian should be without it."-Andrew Marr, author and broadcaster
"Literate, lively, and leavened by wry and gentle humour, Living and Dying with Marcel Proust is a feast."-Lydia Davis, winner of the Man Booker International Prize
One of the masterpieces of twentieth-century fiction, A la recherche du temps perdu belongs in the tradition of the Initiation Story, the journey it describes combining elements drawn from the earlier narratives of great expectations and lost illusions, while recasting them in ways that are distinctively Proust's. The eminent Proust scholar, Christopher Prendergast, traces that journey as it unfolds on an arc defined by the polarity of his title, living and dying. His book offers a chapter by chapter exploration of the rich sensory and impressionistic tapestry of a lived world, woven by the pulse of desire, the hauntings of memory and an ever alert responsiveness to tastes, perfumes, sounds, and colours. It also traces the construction of a unique architecture of narrative time and a corresponding mode of story-telling, marked by all manner of loops, swerves, detours, regressions and returns, from the macro level of the novel's plot to the micro level of the famously elaborate Proustian sentence. The lives of his characters, both major and minor, are shown as criss-crossing and converging in ways that often take the reader by surprise, before descending the arc on an irreversible trajectory of decline, as the body starts to fail and the grave beckons.
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