LITERATURE – Marcel Proust

Marcel Proust was an early 20th century French writer responsible for what’s officially the longest novel in the world: “A la recherche du temps perdu”/In search of Lost Time. which has 1.2 million words in it, double those in “War and Peace” . The book was published in French in 7 volumes over 14 years, and was immediately recognized to be a masterpiece, ranked by many as the greatest novel of the century, or, simply, of all time. What makes it so special is that it isn’t just a novel in the straight narrative sense. it’s a work that intersperses genius
level descriptions of people and places with the whole philosophy of life. The
clue is in the title: “In search of lost time”. The book tells
the story of one man a thinly disguised version of Proust himself, in his ongoing search for the meaning and purpose of life it recounts his quest to stop wasting
time and to start to appreciate existence Marcel Proust wanted his book to help us above all His father, Adrien Proust, had been one of the great doctors of his age responsible for wiping out cholera in
France towards the end of his life, his frail, indolent son Marcel, who had lived on his inheritance and had disappointed his family by never
taking up a regular job told his housekeeper Celeste if only I could to humanity as much good with my books as my father did with his work the good news is that he amply succeeded Proust’s novel charts the narrator’s systematic exploration of three possible sources of the meaning of life. the first is social success Proust was born into a comparable
bourgeois household, but from his teens, he began to think
that the meaning of life might lie in joining high society, which in his day meant, the world of aristocrats, of dukes, duchesses and princes. but if you convert this to the present day, that would mean celebrities. For years, the narrator devotes his energies to working his way up the social hierarchy and because he’s charming and erudite, he eventually becomes friends with lynchpins of Parisian high society the Duke and Duchesse de Guermantes But a troubling realisation soon dawns on him These people are not the extraordinary paragons he imagined they would be The Duc’s conversation is boring and crass The Duchesse, though well mannered, is cruel and vain Marcel tires of them and their circle He realises that virtues and vices are scattered throughout the population without regard to income or renown He grows free to devote himself to a wider range of people Though Proust spends many pages lampooning social snobbery it’s in a spirit of understanding and underlying sympathy it’s a highly natural error, especially when one is young. to suspect that there might be a class
of superior people somewhere out there in the world and
that our lives might be dull principally because we don’t have the right contacts. But Proust’s novel offers us definitive reassurance: life is not going on elsewhere there is no party with the perfect
people are The second thing that Proust’s narrator investigates in his quest for the meaning of life is love In the second volume of the novel the narrator goes off to the seaside with his grandmother to the vogueish resort of Cabourg (the Barbados of the times) There he develops an overwhelming crush on a beautiful teenage girl called Albertine She has short hair, a boyish smile and a charming, casual way of speaking For about 300 pages, all the narrator can think about is Albertine The meaning of life surely must lie in loving her But with time, here too, there’s disappointment The moment comes when the narrator is finally allowed to kiss Albertine Man, a creature clearly less rudimentary than the sea-urchin or even the whale nevertheless lacks a certain number of essential organs and particularly possesses none that will serve for kissing For this absent organ, he substitutes his lips and perhaps he thereby achieves a result slightly more satisfying than caressing his beloved with a horny tusk The ultimate promise of love, in Proust’s eyes is that we can stop being alone and properly fuse our life with that of another person who will understand every part of us But the novel comes to darker conclusions no one can fully understand anyone Loneliness is endemic We’re awkward, lonely pilgrims trying to give each tusk-kisses in the dark This brings us to the third and only successful candidate for the meaning of life: ART For Proust, the great artists deserve acclaim because they show us the world in a way that is fresh, appreciative, and alive The opposite of art for Proust is something
he calls habit For Proust, much of life is ruined for us by a blanket or shroud of familiarity that descends between us and everything that matters habit dulls our senses and stops us appreciating everything from the beauty of a sunset to our work and our friends Children don’t suffer from habit which is why they get excited by some very key but simple things like puddles, jumping on the bed, sand and fresh bread But we adults get spoilt about everthing which is why we seek ever more powerful stimulants (like fame and love) The trick, in Proust’s eyes is to recover the powers of appreciation of a child in adulthood to strip the veil of habit and therefore to start to appreciate daily life with a
new sensitivity This for Proust is what one group in the population does all the time artists Artists are people who know how to strip habit away and return life to its true deserved glory for example, when they show us water lilies or service stations or buildings in a new light Proust’s goal isn’t that we should necessarily make art or be someone who hangs out in museums all the time the idea is to get us to look at the world, our world with some of the same generosity as an artist which would mean taking pleasure in simple things like water, the sky or a shaft of light on a piece of paper It’s no coincidence that Proust’s favourite painter was Vermeer a painter who knew how to bring out the charm and the value of the everyday the spirit of Vermeer hangs over his
novel it too is committed to the project of reconciling us to the ordinary circumstances of life and some of Proust’s most compelling pieces of writing describe the charm with the everyday
like reading in a train driving at night, smelling the flowers in
spring time and looking at the changing light of the sun on the sea Proust is famous for having written about the dainty little cakes the French call ‘madeleines’ The reason has to do with his thesis about art and habit Early on in the novel, the narrator tells us that he’d been feeling depressed and sad
for a long while when one day he had a cup of herbal tea and a madeleine and suddenly the taste carried him
powerfully back (in the way that flavours sometimes can) to years in his childhood when as a small boy he spent his summers in his aunt’s house in french countryside A stream of memories comes back to him, and fills him with hope and gratitude Thanks to the madeleine Proust’s narrator has what has since become known as A PROUSTIAN MOMENT a moment of sudden involuntary and intense remembering when the past promptly emerges unbidden from a smell, a taste or a texture Through its rich evocative power what the Proustian moment teaches us is that life isn’t necessarily dull and without excitement it’s just one forgets to look at it in
the right way we forget what being alive fully alive, actually feels like. The moment with the tea is pivotal in the novel because it demonstrates everything Proust wants to teach us about appreciating life with greater
intensity it helps as narrator to realize that it isn’t his life which has been mediocre so much as the image of it he possessed in normal, that is voluntary memory Proust writes The reason why life may be judged to be trivial although at certain moments it seems to
us so beautiful is that we form our judgment ordinarily
not on the evidence of life itself but in its quite different
images which preserve nothing of life and therefore we judge it disparagingly that’s why artists are so important Their work is like one long Proustian moment they remind us that life truly is
beautiful, fascinating and complex and thereby they dispel our boredom and our ingratitude. Proust’s philosophy of art is delivered in a book which is itself exemplary of what he’s saying It’s a work of art that brings the beauty and interest of the world back to life Reading it, your senses are reawakened a thousand things you normally forget to notice are brought to your attention he makes you for a time, as clever and as sensitive as he was and for this reason alone, we should be sure to read him and 1.2 million words he assembled for
us thereby learn to appreciate existence
before it’s too late.

100 Replies to “LITERATURE – Marcel Proust

  1. I find this channel amazing, because things that on books seem boring, here are explained easily and in an interesting way, reminding us that what we study is useful for our lives. Books often get lost in details, and never really focus on the point. Literature gives us important clues on how to live, it should be studied under this perspective to me.

  2. I love this channel, but don't see Latin american or hispanic writers like Cortázar, Garcia Marquez, Borges or Cervantes. I would appreciate if you could add some reviews for these figures.

  3. I have a question: why is this considered one whole novel being cut in seven volumes if Harry Potter is not considered one whole novel but seven different ones?

  4. What an awesome little movie about an oceanic work of art, Proust's À la recherche du temps perdu. The two years which it took to read Proust, were probably the two years where I felt most alive.

  5. I really enjoyed this video. However it is uncertain wether the narrator of " À la recherche du temps perdu" is Proust. Marcel Proust was homosexual, the narrator was not.
    Also, I believe you should have mentioned " Un amour de Swann" when you spoke about art

  6. 'Proust wrote the longest novel'.

    Have you checked out;

  7. I describe myself as being sensitive, but in a way that I'm usually attracted to unpleasant things, a trollish comment on the internet, a smirk at me for unknown reasons, deafening noises around my house at night, bad thoughts about future that trigger when hearing others' jokes or when browsing through forums. Maybe I'm not paying the right attention, or I'm just hyper-sensitive, but being sensitive can sometimes be a toil particularly at this age, just my opinion.

  8. Why is the channel so racist? Are there videos about Frantz Fanon, Aime Cesaire, Martin Luther King? I doubt it.

  9. I agree with him. In my life I've found a great way to live this philosophy. I live a simple life outside of my work, of much routine, and am happy with that. What keeps me balanced is the fun and wonder experienced in being a Support Worker for adults with learning difficulties. If you want to see life through a brilliant lens, then go hang out with these guys. They will teach you to re-appreciate puddles, shopping trolleys, combination locks and ultimately, life, again.

  10. Another Francophile bias, 1.2 million words to say John 7:24 don’t judge by appearance.
    The meaning of life isn’t art it’s living. That’s the meaning of life to live, which means see hear eat smell touch life not just drinking tea with posh twerps and obsessing over bloody biscuit.
    Another French idiot. Putain de merde voyeur phylosophie francais

  11. wait, … did you say man lacks a kissing organ and uses his lips instead??
    I always thought the lips are the perfect kissing organ … – WHAT have I misunderstood here?

  12. I'm going to jump in the next puddle I see. Then, I'll jump up and down on the bed! Then, I'll plead with the judge not to commit me, I'll explain to him that I was reading Proust and just got carried away.

  13. I recently picked this novel but in the bundle came only 6 volumes and not the 7 that was mentioned in the video. Am I missing a volume?

  14. I have a painting that is probably done by Marcel Proust, it has been in my French family for decades and i wonder if art by Marcel would have some value. Anyone?

  15. Teşekkürler çok güzeldi. Bu yazarı genelde depresif bir kişilik olarak bilirdim o yüzden o kitabı da okumak istememistim. Şimdi bir kitapçıya koşmak için harekete geçtim

  16. The book of Life would be the perfect name for this masterpiece. It'd take a lifetime to (maybe) finish it. Good stuff.✌️

  17. What a lovely recap of Marcel ! I adore him. After reading him, you realize why he was so unique, so perfect, – he is capable of moving you with words, beyond measure 🙂

  18. Life choices: (1) social statues, (2) sexual status, (3) artistic status. Overly drawn distinctions from an evolutionary standpoint (see: as well as from a class (Marxist) standpoint: (see:

  19. some small negligible mistakes:

    1. The narrator goes with his grandmother to BALBEC, which is a fictional place based on Cabourg.
    2. Albertine isn't short haired in the novel.
    3. He doesn't really have an overwhelming crush on albertine. Its more like an affection, which isn't even based on albertine, but to a whole group of girls, and he doesn't even prefer albertine.
    4.And the narrator does NOT think about albertine for threehundred pages in the second volume. Only at the end of the fourth volume, Sodome et Gomorrhe, the narrator starts developing strong feelings for her (because he suspects that she might have affairs). And the whole fifth and sixth volume are centered on her, so there are far more than threehundred pages, even more than thousand, devoted to his affection to Albertine – but not really during the second volume.

  20. A juxtiposition of masculine empiricals has shown that the lack of virtues have hit me hard to see that holistic laws have no more than a few remaining purine blossoms.

  21. Bravo bravo bravo! I’m an artist and I’ve been re-inspired by this video many times. Thank you to School of Life and Proust!

  22. I like enjoying the small things in life. The big small worries of the world may make us think that our life is bad, but there's joy to be found if you look for it.
    Happiness is nowhere but everywhere.
    I will be definitely be reading this novel someday.

  23. thanks here i don't have to read the 1.3 million words..i've got th main thought which cheisheng life purposefully

  24. I loooooove this channel, but you guys need some diversity. There’s so many incredible thinkers and writers of color who have changed the world; so few of them represented on your page.

  25. The irony is that his work could be distilled into 8 words " don't forget to stop and smell the roses…"

  26. Why do you always bring everything to the "beauty of the mundane". Again, don't bend concrete ideas to suit your marketing needs

  27. Another fun fact about La Recherche is that Proust first wanted to name the novel L’intermittence du cœur (the intermittence of heart), which will be just as apt and shows up a lot in the novel.

  28. Marcel Proust was, in fact, on the right path. Nature demands that only the best qualified stand at the top of society. Since, in order to ensure order at all, authority must always come from above, it is imperative that only the best educated, and most enlightened among us, actually hold power, and authority, and be the leaders in society. This is called the "Leadership Principal" and it is what the Italian Fascists, and German National Socialists fought so long and hard to establish, and maintain. The National Socialists set up the SS System of education, and cultural training in order to ensure that it's graduates would be the best possible qualified to take a leadership role in the coming generations. But, as we all k now, this dream was violently stamped out, and has no chance of ever becoming reality. The result is: We must get used to the idea, that we will have, in all perpetuity, Millionaire Nincompoops breathing down at us all of our lives! And MEDIOCRITY will rule over us for all time to come!

  29. Is this the same Proust that Kerouacs friend Neal Cassidy, portrayed as Dean in "on The Road" was mentioning a lot?

  30. Life is in having a personal relationship with God and Jesus Christ and living for His glory and not ourselves. Jesus said, The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy, but I have come that they might have life and have it to the full. (John 10:10).

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