Combray, Marcel Proust
Combray is the first volume written by Marcel Proust, from the set of volumes that make up the famous literary work In Search of Lost Time, and that Vienna Edicions has published in Catalan in a total of ten volumes.
Viena Edicions presents a reissue in Catalan of In Search of Lost Time from the hands of the translator José María Pinto, who has been responsible for translating the set of ten volumes with which Vienna Edicions returns to our libraries the classic of french literature
The collection begins with the book Combray, which is the first part of the first volume of the collection written by M.Proust in May 1909. The writer, Marcel Proust, with health greatly weakened by his asthma, wrote the total set of this literary work while remaining permanently enclosed in a soundproofed room with cork sheets, dedicating to exhaustion the total writing of the set that makes up the world-famous literary work, and studied today to all universities as a great work of universal literature.
Specifically, the “Combray” book becomes a work complicated by its narrative. It is a poetically rich work, but also full of metaphorical nuances that make understanding the text difficult. The long paragraph was written by Proust, typical of Proustian prose and, it seems to be, a consequence of the author’s oratory, does not make it suitable for the commercial reader, accustomed to a short and concise phrase, and to a much simpler and faster text of understanding. The work of Proust overflows the poetic beauty with which the author describes the landscapes, sometimes dreamlike, sometimes metaphorical, sometimes real, and that give way to the character, always from the outside in, as if it were the movement of a film camera that stops in all the details before reaching the character that wants to bring us closer. Proust first places the character in space, we will not find any character without the previous description of its space, such as a bedroom bed, or a church, until later arriving at the physical description of the character and finally entering the interior of the character, in thoughts.
Combray is a difficult-to-read narrative, which can create confusion in the reader not accustomed to reading a text with an extremely long sentence, without differentiated paragraphs. The book should be read calmly and carefully, and that is that reading Proust becomes an extra exercise for the reader not accustomed to the complicated and metaphorical narrative. It also requires a large dose of patience, to understand what Proust intends to tell us after such a long paragraph or such an extremely poetic phrase; reading concentration is vital, in order not to miss the details and perceive the ease with which Proust links one issue with another, for the subtle and imperceptible; and finally, the reader of “Combray” must have a record, because, if a certain free time is not guaranteed to devote to reading the book, it is better not to start reading. Combray is a reading that requires full attention because otherwise the thread of history is lost, and therefore, it will also discourage us in reading.
Combray is a small town in France, where the character has lived with his family, and through memory, he walks us through his landscapes always associated with green and open spaces, rural spaces, however, the book starts from the description of a small bedroom that belongs to the narrator, we remember that the work was written while Proust was resting in his room, in fact, the whole set of In Search of Lost Time includes biographical nuances of the author. Perhaps because the author intended to rest for his illness, while writing this literary work, that we constantly find dreamlike thoughts throughout Combray‘s narrative, the poetic writing of the work can confuse the reader, especially in the steps of the reality in the oneirism, to the one devised by the narrative voice, through this description of the metaphorical spaces, where the author mixes present, past and a totally delirious and hypothetical future.
Proustian prose that can be defined as a search for space rather than wasting time, where the author ends up guarding the memory of a family space mixed with his fantasies, sometimes sexual, especially when referring to some of the female characters of the story.
However, reading the Catalan edition of the Combray by Proust, published by Vienna Editions, has been a beautiful experience, which has represented a challenge as a reader with which I can say introduced In search of lost time. It has also become a reader as a reader, since Proust’s prose is not easy to find today, because of his literary wealth, full of metaphors and sometimes surreal images.
Reading Combray is a challenge, in which, as readers, we can discover if we are prepared to continue reading the other volumes of In search of lost time or we must continue training with the reading of another type of literary works. If we want to overcome the challenge of reading Proust, it is better that we first ensure that we have the initial reading path, of having an important reading base, and after having the attention and concentration as well as the necessary time, because otherwise, we will not overcome reading “Combray”, as a great reader challenge.
Don’t forget that Combray is the beginning, the introduction to the rest of the volumes that make up In Search of Lost Time, and I highly recommend it to the reader passionate about literature and experience in reading the most powerful narrative classics, accustomed to quality literature, so that after all, let’s not forget that we are facing one of the masterpieces of French literature of the early twentieth century, which, in a very successful publication and translation, Vienna Edicions has returned in our reading hands.