by Dennis Abrams
We begin with Proust’s expanding consciousness, moving in that space between sleep and wakefulness, briefly remembering the beds he has slept in, the places he has visited, and the different phases in his life, before settling into childhood memories of his great-aunt’s house, in Combray.
From Roger Shattuck in “Proust’s Way, ”
“The first objects distinct from the conscious I in the Search appear in the second sentence: Marcel’s candle and his eyes. On the following page his reveries on the verge of sleep are condensed into the image of “the kaleidoscope of darkness:’ six pages later the first familiar object identified and described out of his childhood home in Combray turns out to be a magic lantern or slide projector; it entertains Marcel by transforming his bedroom into a series of legendary and historical scenes. This strand of imagery, linking not so much things as particular transformations or modes of vision, never slackens through these three thousand pages of text.”
And, in a letter from Proust to a friend, quoted by Lydia Davis in her introduction to Swann’s Way.
“There are a great many characters; they are ‘prepared’ in this first volume, in such a way that in the second they will do exactly the opposite of what one would have expected from the first.”
Like the overture to an opera by Richard Wagner, the opening section of Swann’s Way will introduce us to many of the themes and characters we will be following throughout the entire text.
Today”s reading: Davis, pages 13-23; Moncrieff pages 15-29.