Have you ever read a book, or had a friend who read a book, where the sentences were full of commas, and the author never really got to a point, indeed, there may not have been a point, and searching for a strong verb is like searching for a grain of sugar in a lot of other grains of sugar, and eventually you forget the subject of the sentence, though, honestly, you don't really care anymore, and you don't think the author does either; however, you believe he should care because it's his effing book, however, he just rambles for pages and pages about napping, and maybe cookies, and nothing ever happens; indeed, he may talk about hawthorn flowers for exactly 16 pages because they may or may not remind him of a little girl, even though he's never introduced this character before, and you don't understand why she has anything to do with flowers, and eventually you find yourself literally sleeping through the book? Cause I have.
The whole book is like that. Hundreds of pages of no period. I. Love. Declarative sentences. Therefore, I. Hate. Proust. (Look at all the periods! A VERITABLE BOUQUET!)
Ok, so a pro: the sentences are beautiful and very rhythmic. You can tell that Proust agonized over every word to get them to flow so nicely. They put me to sleep on more than one occasion- maybe that was also because nothing happens? But seriously, the image I had in my mind the whole time was of laying at the beach in silence and feeling the soft waves lap at my feet. The whole book is that calm, steady, relaxing sort of thing. It's sort of a marvel.
The cons: Everything else? Nothing happens. NOTHING. The book is about a guy who likes naps, and then he eats a cookie and it reminds him of how he used to eat cookies with his grouchy aunt in her old house, and how his family took walks places sometimes and wasn't that nice? It's nice to be French and take walks and eat cookies and nap. All of that is true, but do I need 375 pages to come to that conclusion? No. I need one sentence. One sentence without an EFFING COMMA.
So yeah, it's genius. The writing is awe-inspiring (not kidding) and the structure/style of the book is purposefully reminiscent of dreams and memory and blah blah blah it's bloody boring. Proust is so good at minutely describing how awful it is to be bored on a Sunday in your aunt's house and listen to the clock tick every minute away. The problem is, who wants to read about that? I avoid DOING it as much as possible, so why would I care about READING about it?
HOWEVER. One of my good friends says that Volume 2 is much better- like Proust figured out what exactly he was trying to do, and so I'll give it a try one day. One distant, faraway, accursed day.
Two stars out of your mom. One star for awe-inspiration, and one star for making me think about the beach because. You know. That's always a nice thought.