Dienstag, 10. Juli 2018

Not Everyone Loves Proust / Emily Temple In: Lit Hub Daily July 10, 2018

Lots of people love Marcel Proust. Most writers, probably. These six writers, definitely. He is frequently heralded as one of the greatest writers of all time—but not everyone is on board. Even Proust is not without his detractors, and in his case, some of them are pretty notable detractors indeed, including at least one Nobel Prize winner, a Gothic novelist, a couple of modernist masters, and a currently questionable but still important second-wave feminist. Below, indulge in some of their withering commentary on the French writer and his ecstatically interminable and ultra-famous novel, and if you’re so moved, let us know where your allegiances lie in the comments.
Kazuo Ishiguro, in an interview with HuffPo:
To be absolutely honest, apart from the opening volume of Proust, I find him crushingly dull. The trouble with Proust is that sometimes you go through an absolutely wonderful passage, but then you have to go about 200 pages of intense French snobbery, high-society maneuverings and pure self-indulgence. It goes on and on and on and on. But every now and again, I suppose around memory, he can be beautiful.
Evelyn Waugh, in a 1948 letter to Nancy Mitford:
I am reading Proust for the first time—in English of course—and am surprised to find him a mental defective. No one warned me of that. He has absolutely no sense of time. He can’t remember anyone’s age. In the same summer as Gilberte gives him a marble & Francoise takes him to the public lavatory in the Champs-Elysees, Bloch takes him to a brothel. And as for the jokes—the boredom of Bloch and Cottard.
D. H. Lawrence, in his essay “The Future of the Novel”:
Let us just for the moment feel the pulses of Ulysses and of Miss Dorothy Richardson and M. Marcel Proust . . . Is Ulysses in his cradle? Oh, dear! What a grey face! . . . And M. Proust? Alas! You can hear the death-rattle in their throats. They can hear it themselves. They are listening to it with acute interest, trying to discover whether the intervals are minor thirds of major fourths. Which is rather infantile, really.
So there you have the “serious” novel, dying in a very long-drawn-out fourteen-volume death-agony, and absorbedly, childishly interested in the phenomenon “Did I feel a twinge in my little toe, or didn’t I?” asks every character of Mr. Joyce or of Miss Richardson or M. Proust. Is my aura a blend of frankincense and orange pekoe and boot-blacking, or is it myrrh and bacon-fat and Shetland tweed? The audience round the death-bed gapes for the answer. And when, in a sepulchral tone, the answer comes and length, after hundreds of pages: “It is none of these, it is abysmal chloro-coryambasis,” the audience quivers all over, and murmurs: “That’s just how I feel myself.”
Which is the dismal, long-drawn-out comedy of the death-bed of the serious novel. It is self-consciousness picked into such fine bits that the bits are most of them invisible, and you have to go by smell. ... [mehr] https://lithub.com/not-everyone-loves-proust/

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