Marcel Proust
Modern Library, New York, 2003, English; originally published (in French) 1913–27
ISBN: 9780812969641

A seven-volume novel whose French title, A la recherche du temps perdu, has increasingly been more accurately translated as In Search of Lost Time. This is Proust’s most prominent work (and perhaps the major French literary statement of the 20th century), which looks back at the old social order while noting the rise of a different way of life. It is extraordinary not only in its length, but its observations on time, memory, and the aspirations, foibles, and emotions of life.

Also see In Search of Lost Time and The Guermantes Way.

On 5 book lists
Penny Drue Baird

Many feel that this is a difficult book to get through. Proust is complicated, but his descriptions of France, the world at that time, and interpersonal relationships are superb.

Maira Kalman

Ditto what I said about Ulysses.

Michael Manfredi

Proust’s complex and very long quasi-novel has incomparable high points. His description of the nexus of circumstance, emotion, and place—the sheer poetry of everyday existence—is sublime.

Deborah Sussman

I read some of the seven books in this series in French at Bard College. Read as much of Proust as you can, starting with Swann's Way, for a profound description of individuals and a socio-political climate. Like a pebble thrown into a lake, the famous story of eating a “madeleine” begins an epic masterpiece. In Proust's invention the lake becomes an ocean. The characters and their intrigues, their social status and power (whether inherited or manufactured), are described in very dense text. This work is worth the effort, and will exercise your brain.

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