Title: Swann’s Way
Author: Marcel Proust
Publisher: Viking Adult (September 11, 2003)
Page Count: 496
ISBN #: 067003245X
Publication Date: 1913
The narrator of Swann’s Way tells, true to character, the thoughts and emotions of a young boy’s frustration and wonder toward the adult world around him. The observations sweep the reader into the meticulously described French society of the late 19th century.
Swann’s way is filled with beautiful description that is easy to become entranced in. One of the most moving and perfectly captured moments of youth is when the narrator describes being forced to go to bed without a kiss goodnight from his mother. Proust captures the frustration, determination, and inconsolable longing that a child expresses when they feel they have been unfairly told “No.” The narrator describes the escalation to frenzy so well that by the end, the reader gives a big sigh of relief when the child finally finds solace.
A few questions that kept coming to mind while reading Swann’s Way:
As adults do we lose touch with the simple needs that create overwhelming anxiety and longing in childhood? How can we stay in touch with these memories in order to better understand and more easily relate to the struggles of children?
“And so I must set forth without viaticum; must climb each step of the staircase, ‘against my heart,’ as the saying is, climbing in opposition to my heart’s desire, which was to return to my mother, since she had not, by kissing me, given my heart leave to accompany me.”
–Marcel Proust Swann’s Way