In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower

I just finished In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower today. Just wanted to say. It’s taken me three months and one day to read it, so it seems as though my reading of Proust is getting faster. A bit faster.

This book swung between the two poles of Gilberte and Albertine but it was the three trees, a bit more than half-way though, that made the biggest impact on me. The narrator could not recognise where those trees had come from. As he drove toward and then past them he considered variously that they were from memory, a dream, a long-ago-read novel or perhaps even a reflection from inside his own creativity and intellect: a living, solid representation of the mental effort that Swann avoided, but that the narrator knows he must embrace if he wants to write.

I read those pages on a south-bound train on the North Shore line and I had one of those experiences where the world faded out and nothing existed except the blue expanse of the words crashing into the lines crashing into the pages of the book and the different coloured sands I could see under my feet and the three solid trees in the distance, making a pattern that I knew I should recognise.

I read and reread those pages, but wanted to remember my first time, so I wrote the date into the book: July 9, 2010. All of five weeks ago.

I’ve travelled far since then.

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