Tuesday, November 10, 2009

To Proust or Not to Proust?

As we've seen before, most of us feel some guilt about books we think we should have read (especially if we want to be considered a well-read person) but actually haven't, and probably won't.

Now Germaine Greer in The Guardian absolves us of the need to read Proust. She says of In Search of Lost Time (A la Recherche du Temps Perdu) :
This lacuna in your cultural development you do not need to fill. On the other hand, if you have read all of , you should be very worried about yourself. As Proust very well knew, reading his work for as long as it takes is temps perdu, time wasted, time that would be better spent visiting a demented relative, meditating, walking the dog or learning ancient Greek.
This greatly annoys Agnes Poirier on the blog :
What exactly is the problem with Proust according to Greer? It's too long, apparently, therefore too expensive to acquire, and impossible to read in the bath. Here is literary criticism of the highest nature.
I've not read it. Am daunted by the length. (7 volumes!!!) Would like to at least try it. Every time I find one of the volumes in a warehouse sale it's never the first one so I pass.

Mind you, this comic version looks fun!


What have your experiences of Proust been?

16 comments:

ewaffle said...

On those rare occasions when I have felt a desire to read Proust, taking a quick nap has always made me forget it. ;->

cj'alhafiz said...

hi....i'm newby.. what the hell is Proust actually? haha...do i look stupid here?

Amir Muhammad said...

I have volume 1, Sharon! I can give it to you as I never got beyond page 1.

C said...

I haven't read Proust.

Completely off topic I tried to email you and it didn't work. I wanted to ask you if you'd read The Gift by Zaipah Ibrahim. I have it on order. Also how did you end up in Malaysia? I lived there once in 2000;husband is Malaysian.

bibliobibuli said...

cj - you don't look at all stupid. we all have gaps in what we know, and now at least you have partly filled one. if you need more info then there is always wikipedia, right?

amir - i am afriad if i said yes to your offer i would just sit and look at page 1 of the book too. (btw would you be pushing your bookguilt to me??)

c - try sharonbakar@yahoo.com. i'm on facebook and twitter too.

i came to malaysia as an english teacher. married a malaysian. stayed forever.

haven't read "the gift" - do let us know how it goes.

bibliobibuli said...

oh and ewaffle - i love the nap idea. that speaks volumes about the book, doesn't it?

Preets said...

Well okay I love Proust but now I'm almost afraid to admit it lest I come across as a snob. I admit that if you like plot-driven, fast-moving stuff then it's probably not for you. It's all about mood and language.

Amir Muhammad said...

But I love Germaine Greer! When I was at UEA Norwich, I suggested the writing faculty bring her over to give a talk. The response I got from a faculty member (who was also a published novelist): "But she's bonkers!" So they continued inviting people like Margaret Drabble instead.

Chet said...

Amir - I'd like to know who that published novelist is. I think I have an idea. He's probably just afraid of Germaine Greer.

Amir Muhammad said...

No, it's not Tash Aw!

Chet said...

I know it's not Tash Aw!

Amir Muhammad said...

What makes you think Tash Aw isn't afraid of Germaine Greer??

cj'alhafiz said...

haha...thanks sharon. nice to be here. i'll keep on learning..hihi.

Damyanti said...

Haven't read Proust either, but I guess there is no harm in trying. At least it helps people nap :)

gnute said...

Amir: I attended a talk by Germaine Greer back in 2003 while she was still clearly not bonkers (pre-Big Brother house entrant, pre- nasty comments made of Steve Irwin soon after he died tragically... Who knows what she's like now...) and she was SPELLBINDING. Her entire body moved as she spoke at the lectern. She talked about 'saying the unsayable' - mainly around the marginalization of Aborigines & degenerative state of the Australian natural environment.

bibliobibuli said...

but Gnute you should read Roberta Sykes' autobiography Snake Dancing about Greer.

this from a review "At one point, for example, she confides in Germaine Greer the fact that she was raped. Later, she is appalled when Greer publishes this disclosure in a Playboy article. After this incident, Sykes says, 'every time I was approached by white women reputed to be feminists, suspicion and distrust arose in my mind', foreclosing intimacy. She also had fantasies of herself as an oyster, 'put[ting] down layer after layer of nacre' in order to conceal herself from the outside world. "

i have not felt the same about (whom i used to admire) Greer since this book.