A colossal novel by Marcel Proust. Alternately lyrical, ironic, and essay-like, it contains a great deal of wisdom about love, a vivid portrait of the French aristocracy at the beginning of the 20th century, and numerous passages of arrestingly beautiful prose. Can be viewed as a vast statement on the significance of literature as a mode of existence. Will probably change your life if you read the whole thing.

Marcel Proust was famous for his long, long sentences, that you can find all over In Search of Lost Time, and that sometimes make reading his novel difficult, but the amazing thing is that, while the first and second volumes may seem obscure, little by little you get used to his style, you learn to remember what the beginning of the sentence was, and it becomes easier and easier to read, so that you may concentrate on the insightful psychological descriptions, on the characters that grow old as you read the novel, on the role of time, on the humour because, yes, Proust is very funny sometimes, and you have more and more pleasure until, in the last volume, in twenty or thirty breathtaking pages which would justify all the time you spent on this book if each one of the previous volumes were not already beautiful and pleasant by itself, the main character eventually understands how he can become a writer, his life-long dream, by writing a book about his life, a book which is precisely the book you are reading, a book which convinced me to add a write-up about In Search of Lost Time.

For a list of volumes please see Remembrance of Things Past

In a nutshell: Remembrance of Things Past and In Search of Lost Time are both English translations of Marcel Proust's Á la recherche du temps perdu. The translation In Search of Lost Time, published in 1992, is based on Remembrance of Things Past, but is a revised and corrected version, and is widely considered as preferable. Several translations are currently in print, see breakdown at the bottom.

Proust's multi-volume novel first began to be translated to English in 1922, when C. K. Scott Moncrieff's translation of Swann's Way was published. The rest followed throughout the 1920s, all translated by Moncrieff, except for the final volume The Past Recaptured (aka Time Regained), which was translated by Sydney Schiff. Only this last volume was later retranslated as a single unit, in the United States by Frederick Blossom and in the United Kingdom by Andreas Mayor.

Meanwhile the French original was being constantly revised and eventually the Moncrieff translation fell out of sync with it. In 1981, Terence Kilmartin performed a complete revision of all seven volumes, which was again published under the title Remembrance of Things Past. The title of the seventh volume, The Past Recaptured was changed to Time Regained in this edition.

In 1988-1989 another French edition was published, with more changes, making another translation necessary. This one was done in 1992 by D.J. Enright, who also renamed the entire work from Remembrance of Things Past to In Search of Lost Time. Cities of the Plain was also renamed to Sodom and Gomorrah, and The Sweet Cheat Gone to The Fugitive.

In 2002 another major translation, still titled In Search of Lost Time, was made by Penguin Books. This time each volume was translated by a different person, and the whole project edited by Christopher Prendergast. Swann's Way was renamed to The Way by Swann's, Within a Budding Grove to In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower, The Captive to The Prisoner, and Time Regained to Finding Time Again. So far this version has only been published in the United Kingdom.

Editions now in print in the United States:

Editions now in print in the United Kingdom:

Compiled from Amazon, http://www.tempsperdu.com/, http://www.caffeproust.com/ and http://books.guardian.co.uk/

It was in the corridor of Columbus House, my city's homeless shelter. I had been told, upon being put up there, to "bring a long book". Since one of my ambitions had always been to read "Remembrance of Things Past", I took Volume 2 of the Montcrieff-Kilmartin edition. I had two hours to kill, between a crowded "lounging" area, a hellish "smoking room", and a hallway. I was shuffling around to find a place to find out how Marcel fared in his debut in Parisian society...

"Please, what is this book about?"

She is old, missing many teeth. Books, I have found in this environment, are the Bible, or else a personal fetish, not an elective activity. Despite the fact that she's just asked one of the most difficult questions in 20th century literary criticism, she is owed an explanation.

"Well, there's this man called Marcel, and he comes home after a long hard day, and doesn't have much to look forward to the next day, and his mother says, You're coming down with something, let me get you some herbal tea.
Well, at first he says tea, bleah, but then, he says, for no real reason, OK. So she gives him some tea, and says, here's a cookie to go with it. And almost without thinking, he dips the cookie into the tea, and then, he thinks, like he always does, I wish I'd had a better life, I wish I was a writer instead of all this. Then he eats the cookie, and says to himself, That's funny, at my aunt's, when I was little, I used to like tea and cookies, and then.."

"So, it's kind of uh...autobiographical..."

"Right you are. And there's a rich family, and a poor family...and a hooker, and a famous actress, and all kinds of people, and the rich family loses its money, and the poor family gets rich, and the hooker becomes a famous actress, and World War One breaks out...and Marcel sees it all."

"Wow. I can see why you're reading it."

"And in between he grows up and falls in love, and spends a whole lot of time worrying about whether he should marry the girl, but she dies. And at the end, he's sitting at the same table, having tea and cookies, and thinking, Hey, I haven't had such a bad life after all. I ought to write all this down. And that's the book".

"Great! May I borrow it?"

"When I'm done." I said.

Life has taken me away from her, but the thought remains.

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