On reading "In Search of Lost Time" (series: notes to myself)

For a long time now, I’ve been going to sleep late, thinking about reading Proust.
A paraphrasis, of course. But the enterprise has begun. Thanks to a birthday, and a wonderful present from Kia.

It takes courage to read In Search of Lost Time. Not for the length of the journey. Admittedly, it is long. The edition I choose is the Italian translation by Giovanni Raboni, probably the best available, with some occasional glimpses of the original French, when I am more curious than lazy. It consists of 1174k words, but no, this is not the problem. The audiobook says that it takes 97-107 hours to read. About 5 seasons of 20 episodes each on Netflix. Totally doable. 

What is daunting is the diving into a world so distant in time and yet so intimately, so closely familiar. The relentless, merciless, tireless pursuit of the nuances of human experience, chased at ever more profound levels of scrutiny. Recollections unveiling more recollections, understanding the understanding, showing further insights to explore, bottomless lines of reflection about human natures. A brutal kindness, a gentle violence in scanning realities. This is what is overwhelming.

And so I tried many times in the past, but never succeeded. I was unseasoned by the years, unmatured by too few experiences, unprepared by insufficient memories. Too soft, too feeble, too young. The sea of words would choke me, the waves of meanings would toss me, details would crash me. And I would leave, afraid, pages unturned, the story untold.

But no longer. Now I am ready. Like that special moment at the beginning of a scuba diving immersion, when you float, ready to plunge, and look into the bluish depth of the sea, and then, with some trepidation, you let yourself descend, abandon the superficial air, stop breathing for a moment and then start again, pleasantly astonished that you can, and finally swim in a beautiful universe, effortlessly immersed, weightless, willing to be led.

19 November 2021, page 1… "Longtemps, je me suis couché de bonne heure"  … it is finally time to read.


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