Recorded Books has selected a narrator who makes Proust light-going, if that's imaginable. George Guidall draws us into the banter and gossip of the provincial French bourgeoisie; he makes us feel as if we were at the table with Marcel's family or sharing the parlor with Monsieur Swann's coterie. More impressive still is the ease with which he handles even the most difficult exposition. Try, for instance, Guidall's rendition of "Combray," a complex meditation on Marcel's childhood at his family's country home. What might have been sleep-inducing becomes a haunting, even mesmerizing, experience - the mark of a virtuoso audiobook narrator.
Swann's Way is the first and best-known part of Proust's monumental work, Remembrance of Things Past. Often compared to a symphony, this complex masterpiece is ideally suited for audio. Listening lets you appreciate anew the incredible beauty of Proust's language and the uniqueness of his style. The novel's narrator, Marcel, finds the true meaning of experience in memories stimulated by some random object or event. He recalls his childhood, and eventually reconstructs the story of Monsieur Swann and his passion for Odette, a beautiful, but socially inferior woman. Marcel's waking reverie gives rise to fascinating questions about the meaning of time. Swann's Way, with its long passages of intricate introspection, becomes much more accessible and enjoyable with George Guidall's lucid narration.-Includes an exclusive interview with Mary Ann Caws, Distinguished Professor of English, French, and Comparative Literature at CUNY.
Public Domain (P)1999 Recorded Books, LLC
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This is the first book of an extraordinary seven part novel. I listened to the samples of all the versions available on audible, and as soon as I heard George Guidall’s narration I was hooked. With a narration the least bit pedantic or dry or florid or scholarly this could be quite tiresome. Guidall’s light touch and almost childlike tone was perfect for the story. This is less a story than ephemerally connected evocations, exploring the associations between memory and sense and time. The writing is introspective, complex and beautiful.
The only downside that, after completing this first part, I found this narrator had not read the other parts on Audible. The samples by Rowe and Jason did not entice me. I hope Guidall will narrate the other parts.
"Too Precious for My Taste"
OK, I know Proust is considered a great writer. I wanted to like this book, to see what so many others have seen in it. But my honest reaction is that it was a snooze fest.
There's no story. The whole long book is Marcel's memories of his childhood. Sometimes the characters he describes are interesting, and when that happened, I woke up and enjoyed the passage. But most of the time he simply recounts how his exquisitely sensitive young self reacted to trivial, mundane incidents. And he goes on and on and on about them. Raindrops, for instance, take up a whole paragraph. Not rain--raindrops. Some people may find that poetic, but it just put me to sleep.
I was an English major. I love good writing, and with a highly regarded author I am willing to go a long way toward appreciating his or her style, even when it is not to my taste. Recordings of classic literature have been some of my favorite Audible purchases. But I just couldn't finish this.
"This version has the best narrator"
I fully appreciated this version of the novel for two reasons: I had read the Graphic Novel of the book (comic book) by Stephane Heuet, and I absolutely always love a George Guidall narration. I haven't listened to the other versions of this volume by other narrators, there's no need to since nobody narrates better than Guidall.
For me, this is a rare fictional book in which I would have been served by reading the physical copy since I could have underlined all of the brilliant lines within the text which clearly transcended the story that is ostensibly being told. Though, the interview at the end by the Proust expert mentions that the book is noted for it's extremely long sentences, but that would have confused me if I had to read it but for which I didn't really notice while listening.
This book was definitely worth while for me even though I almost never tip my toes into the murky water of great fiction, but I enjoy philosophy and this book within the text has plenty of insights into philosophy. I had noticed that Sartre in 'Being and Nothingness' had quoted from this book multiple times. There is a philosophical question that glides thru this book: 'how do we know what we know" and how our external and internal worlds form our perceptions, and of course the question of time and memory. But, I'll leave it to the individual listener to find their own wisdom within this book and to understand why this book is said to be the greatest book of the 20th century.
The book can be hard to follow because so much of it deals with "involuntary memory" excursions, but having had read the comic book fairly recently before listening to the story, I was never overly confused by where the narrator was in the story. (The expert at the end of the story mentioned that the narrator of this book does give his name once and his name is Marcel).
There is an extremely funny line in the book and I would not have understood it unless I had read the comic book and had my DNA sampled by 23andMe. It turns out there is a gene which some people carry which makes their 'chamber pot' smell of perfume if the person eats asparagus. The author makes use of that fact and says a line about that (though in this translation they say 'chamber' not 'chamber pot') and would have gone completely passed me if I had not been aware of that effect or had not read the comic.
My advice for people who want to read great literature but get confused by it because they can't always understand it is 1) get the graphic novel and 2) get this version narrated by Guidall, and you will be surprised by how much you'll get out of this book.
"Priceless Proust Performance."
narrator is great, good, easy to listen to. story is, well, Proust. Everyone should listen or read Proust, the writing is superb, descriptions amazing, and hearing them is much different than reading. The rhythm comes through.
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