Within A Budding Grove: An Invitation

“Like a flight of gulls, performing with measured tread upon the sands, the girls’ mysterious purpose was as obscure as it was unforgettable.” ~Marcel Proust

One of my favorite reads of 2013 was Marcel Proust’s Swann’s Way, Volume 1 in the collection Remembrance of Things Past. I read it with Arti of Ripple Effects, which made the book all the more enjoyable as we could share our ideas together. We have now decided to embark on Volume 2: Within a Budding Grove, which won the Prix Goncourt in 1919 and brought Proust instant fame.


No one should read Proust alone. His ideas are too lovely, and sometimes too elusive, to ponder over by oneself. So we invite you, Arti and I, to read (or perhaps reread?) Within A Budding Grove along with us. There will be a post about midway through the volume at the end of October, and a final post at the end of November.

You are so welcome to join us as we venture onward in Remembrance of Things Past.

(The painting, Within a Budding Grove 1, in the upper corner of the collage was painted by David Creffield in 1980. The Girls on The Beach can be found here.)

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10 thoughts on “Within A Budding Grove: An Invitation”

  1. Proust is like a huge mountain which stays a challenge for years (in my case!). I've read this volume and am about half way through the third. I shall read your reports of it with interest. It doesn't need me to say that it's a wonderful book of course.

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  2. I can't say reading Proust has been a mountain for years, as I just began this work last Spring. But, I can see that lovely as the reading is, it isn't exactly light. I wish I would have known you were on the third volume, I would have begun the second sooner to join your pace.

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  3. I'm already looking forward to it, Arti. I have purchased the volume for my nook, and then found it free on line. Oh well, it's good to have an edition that will be easy to hold. I can't wait to see what Proust does with adolescence, as he was so brilliant with childhood. Thanks for encouraging us in this journey which would be formidable alone.

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  4. No one should read Proust alone.

    I love that. I do not know that it is true, but it may be.

    My next volume is the last one, so I will not join you. When I read it I will have read Proust twice. I will be cheering everyone on!

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  5. Perhaps we all read so that we are not alone? Otherwise, why would we blog out thoughts so publicly? I just know that with some of the more esoteric authors I enjoy extra company!

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  6. I'd love to have you join us, Edgar! I value your thoughts and opinions very much, and we'll just see how much we can get read by November 30. The way things are in my life, I'll be happy to have half done by then, but hopefully more.

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  7. John Ashbery, a poet, talks about Proust and Remembrance of Things Past during an interview:
    “I started reading it when I was twenty … and it took me almost a year. I read very slowly anyway, but particularly in the case of a writer whom I wanted to read every word of. It's just that I think one ends up feeling sadder and wiser in equal proportions when one is finished reading him—I can no longer look at the world in quite the same way.
    Yes, and the way somehow everything could be included in this vast, open form that he created for himself— particularly certain almost surreal passages. There's one part where a philologist or specialist on place names goes on at great length concerning place names in Normandy. I don't know why it is so gripping, but it seizes the way life sometimes seems to have of droning on in a sort of dreamlike space. “

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  8. What a wonderful passage you have quoted here, Edgar, which reminds me that “it's okay”, in fact almost necessary, to read Proust slowly in order to savor every word, to dwell in every nuance, to adopt almost a dreamlike state which parallels to the one he creates. Love these thoughts you left in your comment, as always.

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