The Way By Swann’s

I finished The Way By Swann’s today.

It’s taken me longer to read than any book ever before – four and a half months – and I am quite embarrassed by how long that is. But maybe the explanation is in the fact that I more absorbed it than read it: paying attention to every single word and using the words to fashion pathways and torches and everything else that I needed in order to go where they went. The book is a landscape that I climbed into and I worried only once about whether or not we were going the right way.

The worry was around Swann. I was impatient with him, and his love. But time will lead us through all of its consecutive moments (so we think) and we have no way of knowing what awaits. So much is explained in the second part of the book and those details melt from the light into the shadows to suddenly loom over all the things we realise we don’t know when we get to the end. Everything we do know reflects off everything we don’t. And the book has become a darkening forest, as is the Bois de Boulogne, the Parisian park that Proust’s narrator stands in as it ends. And the past and the present dance around us just as they do him. And I am brought almost to tears on the Eastern Suburbs train platform. Not because what I’m reading is sad. Not because it’s beautiful. But because it’s true. And important. And though I’ve longed to, I’ve never managed to say it myself, or at least, not so well.

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