The first couple of pages of Swann’s Way can be very aggravating to a reader. Proust begins by recounting the early impressions of the boy-narrator at Combray, where his family usually spent their summer holidays away from the city life. The reader comprehends an unusual amount of affection and clinginess of the narrator towards his mother, whose love he vies but is afraid to be found out by his father and his grandmother, all of whom are over-protective of him, choosing to confine him indoors with some book for most days rather than letting him venture out and mingle with others.
As I continued reading, I observed how the recapitulation of the senses, metaphorically and literally, continues to be a recurring theme of Proust’s work, which in a quiet semblance fogs over the reader as well, and one begins to feel like they are re-living someone’s life by observing them from their own sitting room or lawn. You do not feel like an outsider yet there exists a camouflage of unreality dividing the past and the present.
Proust has a way of being excessive in his narration, that is from the magnanimity of his descriptive sentences to their very length, which induces the reader to consider how serious could such an author have been about his craft. What do I think? I think he was very serious. Perhaps up to a degree to have disregarded a normal lifestyle.
Another observation the reader might glean would be about Proust’s badly structured storyline. It is not so much a book about characters and their lives, as much as about portraying the narrator’s experiences, memories and their dynamics. As a fiction writer he most likely fails, but as a linguist, recorder of history and lives, he succeeds. It might be an absolute waste of time to ever attempt reading the entire seven volumes of The Remembrance of Things Past, and you are most likely to curse the author midway through the process, yet ironically after completing Swann’s Way, I came to the conclusion that the experience had been worthwhile. It had been a feast of the senses no doubt.