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Summary

Revised edition: Previously published as Swann's Way, this edition of Swann's Way (AmazonClassics Edition) includes editorial revisions.

When the narrator of Swann’s Way dips a petite madeleine into hot tea, the act transports him to his childhood in the French town of Combray. Out of his Pandora’s box of reflections comes a memory of an old family friend, Swann - a man who was long ago undone by romantic desire and cruel reality. In this reverie lie the insights the author seeks about his own life and ageless truths about the ephemeral nature of emotions, places, and, ultimately, love.

A masterful ode to memory’s power to haunt the heart and nourish the soul, this first volume of Proust’s magnum opus, In Search of Lost Time, remains an unmatched accomplishment in the Western literary canon.

AmazonClassics brings you timeless works from the masters of storytelling. Ideal for anyone who wants to read a great work for the first time or rediscover an old favorite, these new editions open the door to literature’s most unforgettable characters and beloved worlds.

Public Domain (P)2018 Brilliance Publishing, Inc., all rights reserved.

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  • Tom Dolan
  • 03-01-19

Floodgates of mind open wide. Review gushes out.

Thank you, Audible, for providing the safe harbor, the warm welcome, that I and my review have been searching for, yearning for, hoping for, for far too long . . . a time . . .

In real life, I am very different from Proust.

In the unreal world of reading and writing, on the other hand, I am very much the same when it comes to loving quiet & being tormented by sounds that interfere with deep thinking, and, thus, disturb the mind.

My review of Proust is a personally-revealing review of a personally-revealing book that ignites the imagination and sends the mind flying! Here, my mind speaks freely. It says whatever it wants to say -- whatever it feels like saying -- about anything, nothing, and everything. Why not! After all, Proust let his mind speak freely. So, why can't I let my mind speak freely? No reason not to. True, my verbosity is boundless. But then, ... so was Proust's.

My review goes into great detail about my mental experience incited by Proust's book, just as Proust's book goes into great detail about his mental experience incited by a morsel of pastry melting in his mouth. Good thing Proust was not forbidden to let his mind wander as it did. Good thing Audible does not forbid me to let my mind wander as it does.

Proust freed his mind and let it wander back into the past; back into memories; back into the mind; and back even further, to the person who was sine qua non to his life and to his mind – i.e., his mom. In celebration of the mind that his mom gave him, Proust wrote, and wrote, and wrote, and re-wrote, ad infinitum. As do I. To me, Proust's masterpiece is not a straight-jacket. It is a spring-board. It does not lock the mind. It launches it. The inner space of mind becomes an outer space open to all kinds of exploration. Memories, yes. Imaginations, yes. Whatever comes to mind. Proust's masterpiece frees up my mind to go wherever it wants to go; think whatever it wants to think; write whatever it wants to write. In that spirit – the spirit of mental freedom and intellectual liberty – I offer you, dear reader, my review.

My review did not suddenly come into existence -- poof! -- as if by magic. It did not switch from “not being” to “being” in no time at all, from out of nowhere. Rather, it – every word of it – has been coming on for some time now, throughout my life, whenever and wherever I have been alive. This, then, is not just a work product. It is a life product. A life product of my mind: up close; immediate; personal; live; in action. Proust's masterpiece was all about one mind, his own. Having read Proust, I know his book. But I do not know, nor can I know, his mind. The only mind I can ever know is my own. So, I cannot write an original, unique, authentic, true-to-life review of Proust's writings, without writing about the only mind I know, my own. I cannot betray my own mind for another's. I must be true to my own. That being so, I do not take the ball (book) that Proust has handed me and let it weigh down my mind. Hell no! I take that ball, and I run with it, zigging and zagging my way – my own way – to the end zone. I follow but one leader, my mind. My mind is all I have. My mind is all I am. There is no me. There is only it. So, I spoil it rotten. I let it play freely; work things out; think things through; trust its own sense of right and wrong, good and evil, up and down, this way and that, etc.; get plenty of sleep; dream; imagine; invent; analyze; pontificate; stumble; fall; make an idiot of me; come up with ideas; reject; return; rejuvenate; go back to square one; start from scratch; leave off in the middle of nowhere; never finish anything; become an imbecile; get underestimated, misunderstood, edited, rejected, and kicked out of places; claim to be "only kidding" when, all the while, I have been in dead earnest; seemingly sad, but always laughing and joking on the inside; spontaneous me!; imagining; inventing; letting ideas come to mind uninhibited (then subjecting them to searching interrogation the moment they dare to cross the threshold); re-thinking; re-doing; re-winding; re-recording; erasing; re-writing; reviewing; reconsidering; revising; re-revising; and on, and on, and on, until the day I die . . . I . . . I . . . break open the sky!

This timeless little piece of my mind's life product ... by which I mean the series of words I wrote (and keep re-writing) in the form of this personally-revealing review of a personally-revealing book … all you see here … all of it … was inspired, instigated, ignited, etc., by things outside my mind. The text I created had a context I did not create. The world outside my mind collided with the world inside my mind. A gentle fender bender. The galaxies of Proust's mind passing through the galaxies of my mind. The result was a happy one. Yes, my mind was intellectually stimulated by Proust's writings. Here, however, I must confess as follows: my eyes' external reading was but preliminary to my mind's internal hearing; which led to thinking; which, in turn, revved up the engines of my intellect, got it going, and set my fingertips on fire, a wild fire, torching the wide open expanses of a limitless prairie known to polite society as “the keyboard.”

And so it came to pass that my review worked itself up, played itself out, and spewed itself forth. What began as a cocoon became a chrysalis; then a butterfly. A beautiful butterfly winging its way through an intricate inter-galactic rainbow illuminated by the brilliance.

The book under review is a very special book, a classic, a masterpiece, in which Proust uses the twin miracles of writing and reading to create the highly imaginative illusion that the mind of the writer is coming back to life in the mind of the reader. Such a miraculous resurrection may seem quite real. But it is not real. What is real is this: the mind of the writer does not and cannot come back to life in the mind of the reader. No can do. The two minds – that of the writer and that of the reader – do not and cannot co-exist in one mind. There is only room enough in one mind for one mind. The writer's mind and the reader's mind do not merge. They do not become one. They remain two: two separate, distinct minds, each independent of the other. Even so, as the reader reads what the writer wrote, a dialogue seems to takes place in the mind of the reader. An illusory dialogue. A strange dialogue. A silent dialogue. An uneven and unequal dialogue between writer and reader. The writer's words are dead; the reader's thoughts are alive. The writer speaks; the reader listens. All readers listen to the same words – i.e., the words of the writer. But no reader hears the thoughts of the writer. And no reader hears the thoughts of any other reader. Rather, each reader hears his or her own thoughts – exclusively – in his or her own mind. Even when they are reading (listening to) the same words, no two readers think (hear) the same thoughts. Why not? Because no two readers have the same mind. Be that as it may, in the writer-reader dialogue, the writer has already expressed his thoughts: not as thoughts, but as written words. On one hand, we have the reader's live thoughts, which are lively as life itself. On the other hand, we have the writer's written words, which are fixed, immutable, frozen in the past, and stiff as death – as if etched in stone for all eternity. And yet, mirabile dictu, by the simple act of reading, the live reader breathes new life into the writer's dead words. No, reading does not bring the writer, or the writer's thoughts, or the writer's words, back to life. In fact, reading doesn't bring anything back to life. Rather, reading breathes new life into dead words. Not the old life of the writer. But the new life of the reader. Such “new life” is the live thinking that takes place inside the living, thinking brain of the live reader. In the writer-reader dialogue, the reader listens to the writer's dead words, but hears the reader's own live thoughts. Unlike the writer's written words – which are fixed, determined, and lifeless – the reader's thoughts, while reading, have a mind of their own and cannot be tied down. For, the reader's thoughts are as alive as life itself, which, by its very nature, does not remain as it was in the past, but, rather, keeps changing with time, as the future passes through the present on its way to becoming the past. Compounding the complexity of all this is the fact that no two readers think the same thoughts, even if both readers are reading exactly the same words at exactly the same time. Each reader is different. Each reading experience is unique. My own unique experience of reading and thinking is THE material for my review. Proust's masterpiece is merely a means to an end. It is a catalyst. It stimulates my thinking. It is a cattle prod. It jolts my living brain with electricity. Through no fault of my own, I cannot help dictating, deleting, and re-writing my lively, ever changing, renewing, and re-renewing review. In my review, I open my mind to the reader, in my own way, just as Proust, in his own way, opened his mind to the reader.

My goodness. What brought all that on? Let's take a look-see back in time. The time I am talking about now is my time, not Proust's time. Proust had his time. I have my time. You have your time. One's time is one's own: personal, unique, exclusive, inalienable, individual. As I read Proust's words, I get some idea -- i.e., my own idea -- about Proust's thoughts. But still! Getting or having “some idea” is not the same thing as “knowing.” I know what I am thinking as I read Proust's book. But I cannot know what Proust was thinking as he wrote his book. I can only read what he wrote. I cannot know what he thought. I can recall my memories. But I cannot recall Proust's memories, no matter how much of my time I spend reading what he spent his time writing. So, why do I read Proust? Why do I bother? Well, as I wrote in one of my other reviews, “a good book ignites the imagination and sends the mind flying!” Similarly, here, as I have written above, in this review, there are times when Proust's book helps my mind free itself from its cocoon -- and go flying -- “a beautiful butterfly winging its way through an intricate inter-galactic rainbow illuminated by...brilliance.”

Once I come back down to earth, however, I face the following real-life issues: my time versus Proust's time; my mind versus Proust's mind; my life versus Proust's life; my work versus Proust's work; and on and on. Simply put: me & mine versus him & his. To paraphrase Shakespeare: what is Proust to me, or I to Proust, that I should spend my future time reading about his past time? Why not spend my future time with my own mind, rather than with Proust's mind? Why not write about me & mine rather than read about him & his? After all, I do have a mind of my own, do I not? Why not tap into my own mind instead of tapping into Proust's mind? What goes on in my own mind is infinitely more real, to me, than what goes on in Proust's book. Compared to Proust's masterpiece, whatever I write may be a muddle. But it is my muddle, a muddle of my own making, which I, only I, could create. Better a slave to my own mind than a slave to Proust's mind.

But still! There are times when all writing + no reading = Jack a dull boy. At such and such a time, I may read Proust. Or, I may listen to Proust on Audible. Even then, or at any other time, however, my mind may simply pack up and leave me -- to go rambling here, there, everywhere, anywhere . . .

Sooner or later, however, my mind comes back home to me. When it does so, it finds me all ears. I am eager to hear whatever my mind feels like telling me. The only matter that matters to me is my mind. To hell with the rest of the Universe! Intergalactic clusters be damned!! My mind is my world. I want to hear what my mind has to say. I want to think its thoughts: not the thoughts of other minds, mind you, but the thoughts of my own mind.

Unfortunately, however, the humanimals keep barging in and getting in the way. I would like the way between me and my mind to be free and clear of such interference, so that I might be allowed to hear clearly, distinctly, in depth, and in detail, this: whatever my mind has to say to me at the moment. O? And what, pray tell, does my mind have to say to me at the moment?? Whatever it thinks! Whatever my mind happens to be thinking at THIS moment. THAT is what I want to hear. What I do NOT want to hear are privacy-violating, serenity-shattering, nerve-racking, mind-scrambling, thought-killing aerial bombardments of boom, boom, boom pounding on my eardrums -- against my will, mind you, against my will -- courtesy of thoughtless, inconsiderate, self-absorbed, music-enjoying, cell-phoning, home-invading, brow-beating Storm Troopers who kick in my door; invade my home; force their way into my sanctum sanctomroom; pin me to the floor; violate my person; crack open my skull; scoop out my brain; and, thus, terminate the pristine stream of my consciousness, not knowing what they do.

O to be free of that! free of them! free to think as freely as my mind can fly! free to think as deeply as my mind can dive! That is all I want. Mental freedom. Freedom for my mind to think its own thoughts. Freedom for my ears to listen for -- and to hear -- whatever it is that my mind has to say to me. Freedom to think silently. Freedom to write quietly. Freedom to breathe the air. I inhale to think. I exhale to write. I dive down deep into my own mind. There, I stay submerged until I am good and ready. Then, at long last, I rise to the surface and break it – gasping for air!

All right then. There you have it.

Thank you for listening. Sorry for being so long-winded. But that's just the way I am.

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