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In Search of Lost Time - Essay Example

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In Search of Lost Time 1. Introduction Marcel Proust is perhaps one of the most acclaimed French novelists of all time though he was not highly celebrated in his life time. Proust’s claim to fame stems from his novel In Search of Lost Time that spans around seven volumes and contains reflections from the author’s own life…
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Download file to see previous pages Overall this novel has borne a great influence on twentieth century literature as a number of writers tried to emulate the novel’s style while others attempted to parody it and some tried to discredit it as a piece of literature. Moreover the novel has emerged as the epitome of innumerable thematic, literary, stylistic and structural possibilities (Painter). It has been argued that this novel is largely based on previous experiences of the author that he recalls from his memory but most of these memories echo jealousy, hence jealousy could be taken as the central interest of the entire novel. However given the novel’s eclectic nature and the manner in which it has been authored and compiled, it would be unfair to restrict the entire novel to jealousy alone. Instead the novel is more or less composed of a variety of themes amongst which jealousy is one though jealousy tends to weigh heavily against other themes in the novel (Shattuck). These themes and the importance of memory as a central focus for the novel are discussed in greater detail below to extricate jealousy as the central and only focus of the entire novel. 2. Swan’s Way The first part of the novel is better known through its translated title as Swan’s Way. Swan is the author’s neighbour who his parents and family socialise with excessively especially his grandfather. The author’s earliest memories stem from Combray, the French town in which the author’s family resided. The author begins the novel subtly by declaring that (Proust, Swann's Way Swan's Way, Overture): “For a long time, I used to go to bed early.” The author sets the tone for his first piece by recalling his room in the family’s country home in the country town of Combray where he waits while his parents are downstairs entertaining an elegant and refined neighbour of Jewish origin, Charles Swan. He also recalls that Swan has strong connections to society but Swan’s untimely visiting time and his parent’s devotion is depriving him of his mother’s goodnight kiss. The author tends to wait around for the goodnight kiss till his parents discover him on the stairs and his father allows his mother to read to the author as a means for compensating him. However the author still feels a little friction with Swan as he states (Proust, Swann's Way Swan's Way, Overture): “But the only one of us in whom the prospect of Swann’s arrival gave rise to an unhappy foreboding was myself.” The statement above can be seen as both a vivid recollection of the author thus reinforcing the element of memory as well as his nascent jealousy for the neighbour who captured his family’s attention. However this does not indicate that the author is occupied with jealousy alone. Instead the author recalls the town of Combray vividly as well as his relatives who they stayed with “every year in Holy Week”. The town has been described in detail by the author though he presents a gloomy outlook of a typical country town with sheep, “wooly grey backs of ... flocking houses” as well as streets named after saints. The author steers clear of controversy in that his fashion of writing is as if he is reporting on the state of the town. Moreover he does not comment on the town’s appearance with highly negative opinions but his description makes the reader aware that the author is not fond of staying in the town as a child. The fond memories of the author’ ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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