Proust

Proust Group

Congratulations to all of us in the Proust Group! After two years (February 2001 to January 2003) and 3,500 pages, we have concluded our discussions of Marcel Proust’s monumental seven-part novel, In Search of Lost Time, also translated as Remembrance of Things Past.

Below are links to various articles, archives, film connections, and more. On a fluffier note, I’ve also included a recipe for madeleines, the scrumptious little cakes that set Proust’s intimate epic in motion. Enjoy!

Proust Resources

  • Marcel Proust — Wikipedia
  • Proust Editions are listed below — including free online texts
  • Kolb-Proust Archive — devoted to the study of the author and his time
  • Proust’s Letters & Articles — features English translations of his lesser known writings
  • Proust Film Adaptations — from the Internet Movie Database (IMDb)
  • Céleste — biographical film about the friendship of Proust and his maid Céleste, from director Percy Adlon (Sugarbaby)
  • 1915 film, Les Vampires [refers to a gang of master criminals; nothing supernatural] — Louis Feuillade‘s 10-part, seven-hour adventure serial (do a search here for the remaining chapters) — shot on location all over Paris — gives a first-hand look at Proust’s contemporary milieu. Feuillade moves between upper echelon society to the shadowy criminal underworld and everything in between. Les Vampires is wildly entertaining; and was a major influence on the Surrealists (who relished its “questioning of narrative certainty”), not to mention all the action/adventure films made since. Say, wasn’t that the Baron de Charlus at the ill-fated ball in Episode 5?

Our Discussions

  • January 25, 2003 — all of Time Regained, at the home of Sharon G
  • October 12, 2002 — all of The Fugitive (aka The Sweet Cheat Gone), at the home of Julia A
  • July 27, 2002 — all of The Captive, at the home of Andrew S
  • June 1, 2002 — second half of Sodom & Gomorrah (aka Cities of the Plain), at the home of Sharon G
  • April 6, 2002 — first half of Sodom & Gomorrah (aka Cities of the Plain), at the home of Suzanne P
  • January 26, 2002 — The Guermantes Way, Chapter 2, at the home of Julia A
  • October 20, 2001 — The Guermantes Way, Chapter 1, at the home of Sharon G
  • August 11, 2001 — all of Within a Budding Grove, at the home of Joseph D
  • June 22, 2001 — the second half of Swann’s Way, at the home of Cathy & Ina
  • April 27, 2001 — the first half of Swann’s Way, at the home of Sharon G
  • February 2001 — organizational meeting

Proust Books Online

Many of Proust’s works are in the public domain and available free online, including most of the French originals and some English translations, through Online Books (that includes all of Project Gutenberg: Free eBooks and many other sources).

Although C.K. Scott-Moncrieff’s 1920s translation of Proust is not the most word-for-word accurate (as are the latest versions), some readers believe it best captures the feel of Proust. While wishing that my French was up to Proust, I prefer the Scott-Moncrieff. They were contemporaries. The only public domain part of Proust’s epic in English is Swann’s Way, the first volume of Remembrance of Things Past. That’s the evocative title that Scott-Moncrieff coined, based on Shakespeare’s Sonnet XXX, instead of the literal title, In Search of Lost Time.

madeleines

Madeleines

Proust immortalized the madeleine when he wrote, “I raised to my lips a spoonful of the cake… a shudder ran through my whole body and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary changes that were taking place.”

Madeleines [mad-LEHN] are small, feather-light, spongy cakes eaten like a cookie, often dipped in coffee or tea. They are baked in a special pan with scallop-shell indentations. The finished cakes take the form of the shell. Would you like to bake some?

Madeleines

(recipe from Epicurious)

2 large eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
Pinch of salt
1 cup all purpose flour
10 tablespoons (1-1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, cooled slightly
Powdered sugar

YIELDS ABOUT 20

Preheat oven to 375 F. Generously butter and flour pan for large madeleines (about 3 x 1-1/4 inches — this metal mold with scallop-shaped indentations is sold at cookware stores).

Using electric mixer, beat eggs and 2/3 cup sugar in large bowl just to blend. Beat in vanilla, lemon peel and salt. Add flour; beat just until blended. Gradually add cooled melted butter in steady stream, beating just until blended.

Spoon 1 tablespoon batter into each indentation in pan. Bake until puffed and brown, about 16 minutes. Cool 5 minutes. Gently remove from pan. Repeat process, buttering and flouring pan before each batch. (Can be made 1 day ahead.)

Dust cookies with powdered sugar.

Wash and dry hands, then return to reading Proust within arm’s reach of the madeleines.

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Begun 1997 / Revised October 31, 2020