Elegant guide to a classic

Book Title:
Live and Die with Marcel Proust


Christophe prendergast

Europe editions

Indicative price:
£ 16.99

Christopher Prendergast created this guide from the remains of a previous book, “a pile of unused notes and scribbles set aside … on the theme of walks”. We remember the last pieces of leather from the shoemaker transformed overnight into a very beautiful pair of shoes – these shoes guide the reader in the search for Marcel Proust’s lost time in style.

Delving into the intricacies of language, sentence structure, and etymology, Prendergast’s approach seems Proustian in its reach and attention, but above all in its witty response to the novelist‘s wicked sense of humor. French. Avoiding recent views on the classic novel, he imagines Proust, “… choking on his croissant (which he much preferred to madeleines) when presented to him the image of his book as a” Proustian guide “serving” a practical and universally applicable story of how to stop wasting [ . . . ]his life'”. This would have come as news for Proust’s narrator, who spends years exploring precisely what it is like to experience “life” as the other meaning of the word “lost” in the novel’s title – “wasted”. “.

And indeed, it is Proust’s examination of the wasted side of our lives that Prendergast highlights with so much flair and wit. Scholarly, rich and succinct, the book covers chapters or “suites” on subjects such as the body, the gardens of paradise, crossroads, or the color pink which explores Proust’s synesthesia, his ecstatic “colorophilia”, retracing the influence of Ruskin, Baudelaire and the impressionist painters.

Could Proust be as good for you as some neuroscientists claim now? Prendergast is much closer to the pharmacy-obsessed Proust who believed that asking “for mercy on our bodies is like speaking in front of an octopus, for which our words can have no more meaning than the sound of the tides, and with which we we should be dismayed to see us doomed to live ”.

The particularly fine Death and Black Holes section meets Proust’s vision of death, its complications and ironies, with an equally sensitive mind, noting “One way of describing the novel is like a long story of spasmodic resurrection, manifested under a great variety of shapes “.

This volume is meant to rekindle readers’ interest in finding the lost time – although it does contain plot spoilers for beginners. In the hands of Prendergast, the return journey is irresistible.

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