The latest in the adventurous and expert new edition of In Search of Lost Time (see Jan. 1 editorial).
Volume three of the newly commissioned translation by various hands of Proust’s masterpiece (based on the authoritative 1987–89 French text) traces his autobiographical protagonist Marcel’s conflicted continued entry into the worlds of Parisian high society. Marcel’s old life still beckons, in the earthy impertinence of his family’s longtime servant Francoise, and in the agonizingly slow dying of his beloved grandmother. But Proust’s swirling sentences and echoing emphases vividly counterpoint such concerns with the literate glamour embodied by the mercurial Duchesse de Guermantes, the willful egoism of brilliant, unstable actress Rachel, and the suave amorality incarnated in (Proust’s most memorable monster) homosexual Baron Charlus. The colloquial accents of Treharne’s lucid English version illuminate such contrasts in ways perhaps not quite managed by the stately cadences of C.K. Scott-Moncrieff’s first English translation.
But whatever your preference, Proust is a pleasure no serious reader should miss. (Volume 4, Sodom and Gomorrah, will appear in fall 2004).