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Proust: Tackling His Sentences


I consider myself a punctilious reader but Proust calls me higher. In reading Swann’s Way, for which I allocate at least two weeks to read, I realize I have to revise my reading habit. Sometimes I perpetrate the error of reading impatiently. Skimming. Dismissing seemingly irrelevant details. But Proust is all about these details that are sometimes not pertinent to his plot. Meandering, as Proust often does, inducing me to take a walk with him into the memory lanes of his life, and into his bucolic and melancholic bidding.

The way to read Proust is rather simple: absolute silence is necessary, breathe deeply, reset the attitude. Think about what Proust must have gone through, reliving all those details, drenched in melancholy, that he conveys in his cathartic prose. Patience becomes an imperative if one is to enjoy the beauty in those long strings of diamonds—his sentences. Proust, in his long sentences, actually induces deep reading, persuades me to slow down, senses our surroundings, inundates us in evocative details, and nurtures my concentration. Reading him doesn’t allow room for distraction. If I look up from the book when someone walks into the coffee shop, I’ll lost the rhythm of his sentences and will have to start over again. Read every word deliberately, linger on his syntactical idiosyncrasies, pausing at every comma or semicolon to digest the phrase before, one phrase at a time. This way, I could read his hundred-word sentences without losing the essence of what he is attempting to convey.


One Response

  1. Reading Proust is close to rumination, this is the only way of reading it. There’s hardly any plot anyway, the whole focus is to be on the writing and reading

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