I have a plan. I have a plan and this summer I'm actually going to do it; I'm going to read Swann's Way, the first volume in Marcel's Proust masterpiece In Search of Lost Time. This is something I've been saying for five years now, but this time I think it's going to happen.
In 2004, I read Alain de Botton's How Proust Can Change Your Life. It was right after Status Anxiety came out. I heard de Botton interviewed on NPR, picked up his new book and was so hooked I returned to the bookstore and bought everything they had by him on the shelves. I don't usually act like a smitten fangirl when it comes to writers, but the combination of the humor and the subject matter caught my attention and then reeled me in. How Proust Can Change Your Life was funny and interesting and it left me curious about the novel and the life that had inspired it.
Unfortunately, my own life intervened. And, while I've done a lot of traveling and schooling in the past five years, I'm little ashamed to admit that I've started the novel twice and never made it past page 23. I can relate to the narrator's problems with falling (and staying) asleep, but for some reason I'd put the book down and just not pick it back up again.
Here's my plan: I am reading 50 pages a week from Lydia Davis's translation. I'm not reading any commentary or reader's guides or any of the annotations. The goal is to just brute-force my way through it this first time (because any book with sentences that long may very well require a second reading.) I am, however allowed to underline things that catch my attention with pencil and to leave notes in the margin. And, of course, there will be field reports. This summer, I can feel it. It is the summer of Proust.