In Search of Lost Time. Two Box Set.

By Marcel Proust

Printed: 2001

Publisher: The Folio Society. London

Dimensions 17 × 14 × 25 cm

Language: English

Size (cminches): 17 x 14 x 25


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Six volumes in two fitted boxes. Blue and navy binding with gilt titles on the spine.  Dimensions are for one box.

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Book of the 20th Century: Novel in Six volumes. [Folio Society Second Edition]. Translation by C.K. Scott Moncrieff & Terence Kilmartin.

Volume 1 Swann’s Way
Volume 2 Within a Budding Grove
Volume 3 The Guermantes Way
Volume 4 Sodom and Gomorrah
Volume 5 The Captive
Volume 6 The Fugitive Time Regained

Begun in 1909, when Proust was 38 years old, À la recherche du temps perdu consists of seven volumes totaling around 3,200 pages (about 4,300 in The Modern Library’s translation) and featuring more than 2,000 characters. Graham Greene called Proust the “greatest novelist of the 20th century”, and W. Somerset Maugham called the novel the “greatest fiction to date”. André Gide was initially not so taken with his work. The first volume was refused by the publisher Gallimard on Gide’s advice. He later wrote to Proust apologizing for his part in the refusal and calling it one of the most serious mistakes of his life. Finally, the book was published at the author’s expense by Grasset and Proust paid critics to speak favorably about it.

Proust died before he was able to complete his revision of the drafts and proofs of the final volumes, the last three of which were published posthumously and edited by his brother Robert. The book was translated into English by C. K. Scott Moncrieff, appearing under the title Remembrance of Things Past between 1922 and 1931. Scott Moncrieff translated volumes one through six of the seven volumes, dying before completing the last. This last volume was rendered by other translators at different times. When Scott Moncrieff’s translation was later revised (first by Terence Kilmartin, then by D. J. Enright) the title of the novel was changed to the more literal In Search of Lost Time.

In 1995, Penguin undertook a fresh translation of the book by editor Christopher Prendergast and seven translators in three countries, based on the latest, most complete and authoritative French text. Its six volumes, comprising Proust’s seven, were published in Britain under the Allen Lane imprint in 2002.

 Critical reception-  In Search of Lost Time is considered, by many scholars and critics, to be the definitive modern novel. It has had a profound effect on subsequent writers, such as the British authors who were members of the Bloomsbury Group. Virginia Woolf wrote in 1922: “Oh if I could write like that!” Edith Wharton wrote that “Every reader enamored of the art must brood in amazement over the way in which Proust maintains the balance between these two manners—the broad and the minute. His endowment as a novelist—his range of presentation combined with mastery of his instruments—has probably never been surpassed.”

Harold Bloom wrote that In Search of Lost Time is now “widely recognized as the major novel of the twentieth century”. Vladimir Nabokov, in a 1965 interview, named the greatest prose works of the 20th century as, in order, “Joyce’s Ulysses, Kafka’s Transformation [usually called The Metamorphosis], Bely’s Petersburg, and the first half of Proust’s fairy tale In Search of Lost Time”. J. Peder Zane’s book The Top Ten: Writers Pick Their Favorite Books, collates 125 “top 10 greatest books of all time” lists by prominent living writers; In Search of Lost Time is placed eighth. In the 1960s, Swedish literary critic Bengt Holmqvist described the novel as “at once the last great classic of French epic prose tradition and the towering precursor of the ‘nouveau roman'”, indicating the vogue of new, experimental French prose but also, by extension, other post-war attempts to fuse different planes of location, temporality and fragmented consciousness within the same novel. Michael Dirda wrote that “To its admirers, it remains one of those rare encyclopedic summas, like Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, the essays of Montaigne or Dante’s Commedia, that offer insight into our unruly passions and solace for life’s miseries.” Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon has called it his favorite book.

Proust’s influence (in parody) is seen in Evelyn Waugh’s A Handful of Dust (1934), in which Chapter 1 is entitled “Du Côté de Chez Beaver” and Chapter 6 “Du Côté de Chez Tod”.  Waugh did not like Proust: in letters to Nancy Mitford in 1948, he wrote, “I am reading Proust for the first time … and am surprised to find him a mental defective” and later, “I still think [Proust] insane … the structure must be sane & that is raving.” Another hostile critic is Kazuo Ishiguro, who said in an interview: “To be absolutely honest, apart from the opening volume of Proust, I find him crushingly dull.

Since the publication in 1992 of a revised English translation by The Modern Library, based on a new definitive French edition (1987–89), interest in Proust’s novel in the English-speaking world has increased. Two substantial new biographies have appeared in English, by Edmund White and William C. Carter, and at least two books about the experience of reading Proust have appeared, Alain de Botton’s How Proust Can Change Your Life and Phyllis Rose’s The Year of Reading Proust. The Proust Society of America, founded in 1997, has three chapters: at The New York Mercantile Library, the Mechanic’s Institute Library in San Francisco, and the Boston Athenæum Library. Furthermore, in 2016, The Proust Society of Greenwich, a non-profit organization was created to accommodate reading and discussing Proust to readers all over the world through monthly online sessions.

Valentin Louis Georges Eugène Marcel Proust ( 10 July 1871 – 18 November 1922) was a French novelist, literary critic, and essayist who wrote the monumental novel À la recherche du temps perdu (in French – translated in English as Remembrance of Things Past and more recently as In Search of Lost Time) which was published in seven volumes between 1913 and 1927. He is considered by critics and writers to be one of the most influential authors of the 20th century.

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