Does anyone else feel that the experience of reading Proust has two distinct phases to it?
First, as I read, I find myself captivated by the details -- the hawthorns, the "threads of golden silk" cast by the apple-trees, the steeples, the personal names (M. Legrandin... Mlle Vinteuil...), the sounds of bells... While reading I feel I am floating on an open sea, and the details are waves.
Second, after I put the book down, I think about what I have read. In this phase I find myself reflecting on the relationship between life and the imagination, on the nature of social commitments, on larger themes.
It turns out that, as I lay floating, I was being directed all along, by a tide beneath the waves.