All the fiction Proust (1871-1922) wrote, in addition to his autobiographical Jean Santeuil
and his great seven-volume Remembrance of Things Past
, is collected in this attractive volume, which contains the text of his first book, Pleasures and Days
(1896), with a few semifictional journalistic sketches added, and six previously untranslated "early stories." The latter are mostly dated ephemera devoid of narrative tension ("The Indifferent Man" being a partial exception). The former, though self-indulgent and uneven, do comprise a winning composite portrait of early-20th-century Parisian street, salon, and bedroom scenes—ranging from the Balzacian melodrama of "Confessions of a Young Girl" to the agreeably jaded rhythms of "The Melancholy Summer of Madame de Breyven" (which one can imagine Colette enjoying). Critic Roger Shattuck's claim (in his Foreword) that these sketches stand to Proust's masterpiece in somewhat the same relation as does Joyce's Dubliners
to his Ulysses
won't convince anybody. But readers who adore the mature Proust won't want to miss them.
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