19.2.13

Marcel Proust and Swann's Way Exhibition

‘Marcel Proust and Swann’s Way’ at the Morgan Library
Marcel Proust standing to the left of his mother, Jeanne, and brother, Robert.
Edward Rothstein (New York Times):
A cosmos is compressed into cryptic hieroglyphs in the Clare Eddy Thaw Gallery of the Morgan Library & Museum. Here is an exhibition so condensed, so distilled and in some ways so abstract and well suited to the gallery’s geometric space (which is a perfect cube), that unless you arrive properly prepared, you might leave as bewildered as prospective French publishers were when they rejected Marcel Proust’s “Du Côté de Chez Swann” (“Swann’s Way”), more than a century ago.

“Perhaps I am as thick as two short planks,” reads one of those evaluations, “but I cannot understand how a man can take 30 pages to describe how he turns round in his bed before he finally falls asleep.”

But anyone who reads that first volume of “À la Recherche du Temps Perdu” (translated into English as “Remembrance of Things Past”) has no problem understanding how 30 pages might be required to capture the turnings of self-consciousness and their cascades of recollection. Or even, perhaps, how 3,000 more pages might be needed to scrutinize how sexual compulsion, aesthetic refinement and social perversity find expression in a cast of characters who can be as brilliant, creepy, climbing and compelling as their creator. [Read More]
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