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20.12.03

Support for Reading Proust

Marcel ProustIf you are reading Ionarts because of Proust, here is another blog you should be reading, the journal of a Proust reader called Waggish Reads Proust. This was brought to me by way of Nathalie at Cup of Chicha (in an entry on December 15, "Whether I actually want to read it is debatable."), who says, "So, ionarts, despite finding a niche market, now has competition." Waggish (whose regular blog is on hold during the Proust reading) is in the middle of Proust's second volume right now and appears to be making a good handful of longish posts about each volume, on whatever subjects present themselves.

Reading 3,000 pages of Proust's prose is not something to be undertaken lightly. When the chips are down and you think are going to throw in the towel, when you think you can't face another sentence, you need to ask for help. Maybe reading the musings of a fellow reader online is not enough, and you need to seek assistance from a real person. A Proust reading group is just what the doctor ordered. In the San Francisco area, you need to go to the meetings sponsored by the San Francisco chapter of the Proust Society of America, featuring Dr. Mark Calkins of TempsPerdu.com (either the First-Time Readers' Group or, for the heavy-hitters who carry about bags of madeleines and can fall asleep only with the light of a magic lantern, the Veteran Readers' Group). Another group meets in London. Don't feel bad if it takes you longer than you think: one online reading group took two years to finish reading the novel. Whatever you do, don't stop reading, since you never know when you will run out of time. To remind yourself of this, look at Man Ray's photograph of Marcel Proust on His Deathbed, from 1922 (from the Getty Museum). Remember that, shortly before he died, Proust was dictating final changes to the novel: keep reading, for God's sake!

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