Why and How to Read Marcel Proust?

Marcel Proust was an early 20th-century French writer who is mostly remembered for his book ‘A la recherche du temps Perdu’ (In search of Lost Time) – which happens to be the longest novel in history with a word count of approximately 1.2 million. Yes, you heard it right. So, why would someone dare to undertake such an adventure? We will get to the answer, but first, let’s get familiarised with the author and his masterpiece.

Once again, why read Proust? And even though the question might seem absurd to many serious readers, it makes sense to raise this question because a lot of readers might be hesitant to invest so much time in the novel (despite it being arguably one of the greatest works ever). Let me simplify it for you, if you are looking for reasons:

1. Read Proust if you are anxious about your own status in the society and often experience envy (or jealousy).

2. Read Proust if you want to experience love,

3. Read Proust if you want to understand pain (that of love, loneliness and relationships) and heal it. 

4. Read Proust if you want to add more quality to your life and a wider space to your worldview. 

5. Read Proust if you want to become a better reader. 

If you are convinced (even if you are not, there is no harm reading further), then let’s try to focus on how one should approach Proust as a reader. The good news is, you can pick any of his work. So, it’d be a nice idea to jump to In Search of Lost Time straight away. The book has seven volumes, and as it has been mentioned before, it is going to be a long (read really long) read. Here are a few tips to make this reading experience more enjoyable:

  • Remember, this is not a page-turner, something you would want to finish quickly. Go slowly. Read a few pages every day. You may continue reading any other book too, along with this one. Read for the pleasure of reading, enjoy the certain nuances, think about similar scenarios in your life.
  • If you can understand French, there is no reason why you should not be reading the original version. In fact, it’s even a better idea to go for an audiobook; Proust’s style seems more beautiful when you hear the sounds of his expressions.
  • If, at some point, you find the book too much of a task for you, take a break. It happens with many readers. So, take your time, and whenever you feel like, you can come back to the text and start appreciating allover again.

Good luck and happy reading!

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