Reading Proust: Fin


I’m done. I’m sick of Proust. Sick of his rambling go-nowhere prose. All that BS I laid on before? Total crap. My metaphor of exploration was based on the idea that my exploring would be rewarded with some shiny treasure; instead, it just goes on and on and hardly says a thing. I swear I read all of Swann’s Way and it’s all been meaningless. The prose, yes, is beautiful and a joy to read; his way with language cannot be understated enough. The guy knows his way around an epiphanic moment too. But at some point in the middle of saying things, you have to Say Something. The dense, thick language which takes so long to navigate (one paragraph I read was six pages long) must be made worthwhile. And for me it hasn’t been. I’m just bored. Simply bored. Somehow I keep finding book after book to read instead of Proust. There’s a reason that keeps happening. In my mind I keep comparing the book to Tolstoy, whose novels are also very, very long, but who has perfected the trade-off between lengthy ambiance/exposition and plot/character development. Perhaps at another point later in my life I will have the time and patience to enjoy finishing this novel. But for now, it’s just stupid to waste my time reading and reading and reading a novel that I can’t enjoy, when there is so much out there to read that is enjoyable for me. It was a noble pursuit but I admit defeat…for now. You win, Mr. Proust. Zut alors!

John Ashbery, from “The New Spirit”
W.H. Auden, “Taller to-day, we remember similar evenings”

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