The Guermantes Way – Volume 3 of In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust

The Guermentes Way

An interminable party at a Princess’s house announces the protagonist’s arrival in the best of society – or his “passage into the rarefied social Kaleidoscope of the Guermantes’s Paris salon, as the book’s blurb would have it. However, being dominated by the turgid conversation and rather dull wit of a dozen or so stuck up and patchy caricatures, all intent on a brand of crass social one-upmanship, the novel does lean a little heavily on the reader’s patience. And yet! There’s still plenty of space (819 pages) for Proust’s beautiful prose: “But even apart from rare moments such as these, in which suddenly we feel the original entity quiver and resume its form, carve itself out of syllables now dead, if in the dizzy whirl of daily life, in which they serve only the most practical purpose, names have lost all their colour, like a prismatic top that spins too quickly and seems only grey, when, on the other hand, we reflect upon the past in our day-dreams and seek, in order to recapture it, to slacken, to suspend the perpetual motion by which we are borne along, gradually we see once more appear, side by side but entirely distinct from one another, the tints which in the course of our existence have been successively presented to us by a single name.”

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