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In Search of Lost Time. Marcel Proust

In Search of Lost Time. Marcel Proust
To understand an absolute masterpiece such as In Search of Lost Time (1913-1922) we could evoke a legendary image: a room upholstered in cork to avoid outside noises, windows always closed, fumigations that give off a suffocating smell, garments of wool that the writer only puts on after having roasted them before the fire, so that they are tattered, and after them a man, Marcel Proust (1871-1922), asthmatic, seriously ill, fighting against time for twelve years in which his manuscript is multiplied, branching continuously into new stories that he corrects and complicates until it becomes almost illegible, recovering the images that mercilessly brings to his memory, just until the day of his death, in which he puts the word Fin in the last notebook.

This is the feeling one has when reading the pages of In Search of Lost Time: that of a strenuous effort to create a complete universe formed by an infinity of feelings divisible to infinity. What is the subject of the work? The answer is that there are so many different topics that he addresses, that his summary is impossible. We could say that it is the story of a nervous child, of his learning in life and the world, of his parents' friends, of his loves with several girls and of the loves and perversions of some of the most select members of society Parisian, and we wouldn't have said anything. We could also say that the narrator is an educated man, capricious, spoiled, thoughtful, quiet gossip, who attends the halls of the upper class of Paris and tells us everything that happens in them and what is hidden from public view, and we wouldn't have said anything either.

We only know one thing: whoever enters its pages will live experience as a reader that will hardly be repeated with another book, because In Search of Lost Time is a unique, unrepeatable novel, without doubt, one of the best in universal literature. It is true that its 7 books and 3,500 pages are a complicated obstacle to overcome, but the reader who can read the first fifty will find a complex world, full of nuances, deep observation, elegant descriptions and bold psychological insight, which does not You can stop admiring.

Proust's great secret is his way of evoking the past, unlike any other perspective that literature has given. It is not an intellectual memory or a documentary effort to show the past in the eyes of the present, but an evocation by involuntary memory. We all remember the episode in which Proust dips a cupcake in tea and that leads to his childhood. That fortuitous pleasure makes him the misfortunes of the past in indifference, and his brevity in an illusion. Why is this evocation mode so powerful? Because the images of the memory, which are generally fleeting by not having strong sensations to lean on, find support for the present sensation. Suddenly, a noise, a smell, already heard or breathed before, is heard or breathed again, both in the present and in the past real without being current, and the true self, which for a long time seemed dead, wakes up, cheers up, freed from the order of time. Then, the only way to like it more is to try to know it better, to clarify it even in its depths.

In search of lost time is not an autobiography disguised as a novel; It is a novel disguised as autobiography. Proust is interested in his society, in the fundamental mystery of other people, in his own self, in the different selves that have accumulated over time and that seen from the present show a mutant personality that needs to be captured to understand the world and understand yourself. That is why his novel is not linear but is repeated from various angles and perspectives to capture all the possible nuances that life can generate. Hence, he has a reputation as bizarre and repetitive; But if we want to understand the world in all its complexity, we cannot ignore a new reflection, a new point of view, and that is what Proust does in his novel: exhausting the possibilities of psychological penetration into the human being to infinity. For that reason too, it is a feast for the senses to read it, its wealth is inexhaustible.

When we reach the end of In Search of Lost Time, we realize that life can be a work of art. That fight against death that Proust maintains is also the fight against time that exhausts us all and that turns our past into ashes, the only thing we have if we are not able to recover it and understand it. Contrary to what is thought, Proust applied a telescope to his life and the world around him, so that small and distant things brought them closer to his sensibility to the point of discovering in them the laws that governed them. In search of lost time is nothing more than a kind of optical instrument that the writer offers the reader to allow him to discern what, without this book, he could not have seen in himself. With his work, in reality, each reader is, when he reads, the reader himself.

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