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Delhi Proustians – First Look, William Carter’s Annotated Edition of Marcel Proust’s 2nd Volume

Delhi Proustians – First Look, William Carter's Annotated Edition of Proust's 2nd Volume

In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower.

[By Mayank Austen Soofi]

The Delhi Walla has seen the cover. And it’s utterly beautiful.

I’m talking of the much-awaited annotated English translation of the second volume of À la recherche du temps perdu—that great novel by Paris writer Marcel Proust that completely changes the life of anybody who dares to read all its seven volumes.

In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower will come out in October 2015. It follows the excellently annotated Swann’s Way, the first volume of Recherche. We English-language readers, of course, know the French page-turner by either of its two titles—In Search of Lost Time or Remembrance of Things Past.

In the Shadow… is part of an ambitious project to edit and annotate all the volumes of the classic C.K Scott Monceriff translation of the Lost Time. This dream job belongs to William C Carter. The English-speaking world’s greatest living Proustian, Mr Carter is the Distinguished Professor of French Emeritus at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the US.

The Delhi Walla readers will remember that the cover of the first volume, which the 73-year-old Proust scholar published in 2013, had showed madeleine—the small tea cake immortalized by Proust in Swann’s Way. (I wrote about that book here.)

Now, the second volume shows the famous beach paining by Claude Monet. ‘The Boardwalk On The Beach At Trouville’ was painted by the impressionist painter while he was honeymooning in a Normandy resort, in the northwest of France, in 1870.

This beach has intimate connections to literature. According to a travel story published by The Guardian in 2008, it was in this beach that “the young [novelist] Gustave Flaubert fell in love in 1836, walking behind a beautiful married woman, Elisa Schlesinger, and gallantly picking up her cape which had fallen on to the sand. Marcel Proust stayed in one of the villas overlooking the beach, making it the model for La Raspelière in Remembrance Of Things Past, and stayed also in the Hotel Des Roches Noires, whose breezy glamour Monet also painted. That is now an apartment block of faded, muted grandeur.”

It was this volume (In the Shadow…) that won the Prix Goncourt in 1919, affirming Proust as a major literary figure and dramatically increasing his fame—says Yale Book News, a pamphlet put out by Mr Carter’s publisher, Yale University Press. It adds: “Here the narrator whose childhood was reflected in Swann’s Way moves further through childhood and into adolescence, as the author brilliantly examines themes of love and youth, in settings in Paris and by the sea in Normandy. The reader again encounters Swann, now married to his former mistress and largely fallen from high society, and meets for the first time several of Proust’s most memorable characters: the handsome, dashing Robert de Saint-Loup, who will become the narrator’s best friend; the enigmatic Albertine, leader of the “little band” of adolescent girls; the profoundly artistic Elstir, believed to be Proust’s composite of Whistler, Monet, and other leading painters; and, making his unforgettable entrance near the end of the volume, the intense, indelible Baron de Charlus.”

Charlus? Don’t get me started on him!

Monet’s depictions of Trouville


Delhi Proustians – First Look, William Carter's Annotated Edition of Proust's 2nd Volume


Delhi Proustians – First Look, William Carter's Annotated Edition of Marcel Proust's 2nd Volume