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Thanks for the photos! It really does look like I imagined it would.


Beautiful and romantic scenery. It seems Europeans have a secret of persverving beauty that we in America are hard pressed to appreciate, learn and accomplish. Great shots of the children too! Fun stuff!


Ah the dangers of seeing the 'real' Combray. Oh my precious mind pictures! How they fade like a dream when faced with waking reality...(and what lovely photos of that reality).

Marcelita Swann

I keep returning to your vist to Illiers-Combray...the children echo Marcel and Robert's curiosity, surrounded by nature. It's also rare to see a photograph of a nearby wheatfield.

"Adrien Proust used to lead his sons Marcel and Robert south of Illiers, out towards Vieuvicq and Tansonville, passing 'fields of wheat undulating under the sharp wind that seemed to arrive in a straight line from Chartres.'"

"...the Guermantes way with its river full of tadpoles, its water-lilies and buttercups, formed for me for all time the contours of the countrysides where I would like to live, where I demand above all else that I may go fishing, drift about in a boat, see ruins of Gothic fortifications and find among the wheatfields a church, like Saint- Andre-des-Champs, monumental, rustic and golden as a haystack; and the cornflowers, the hawthorns, the apple trees that I still happen, when traveling, to come upon in the fields..." Volume 1 (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) Marcel Proust; Lydia Davis.

"A passing breath of air, more fragrant than the rest, seemed to bring me a message from her, as, long ago, from Gilberte in the wheatfields of Méséglise."
"The Guermantes Way" by Marcel Proust (Modern Library)

Naturally, your "Reading Proust in Berekley" is one of my favorite blogs. Sadly, not one of our Eastern reading groups serve wine, but I think a member of the Proust Society in Boston (Hollie Harder's led groups at the Boston Athenaeum) visited last year and came back with tales.

I recently visited Illiers-Combray, but felt a desire to return to your memories...to see my own.


Marcelita, I'm so glad to hear that you return to the images of Illiers-Combray -- and to the blog. Are you currently reading (or rereading)? We are taking a two month break from our reading group over the summer, and I am finding that I am missing it more than I expected. Somehow reading Proust has become a kind of unlikely ballast in my life, and without it I am reeling back and forth between books on physics (Krauss' "A Universe from Nothing," Smolin's "Time Reborn"), Tolstoy's lesser novels (just came to the strange conclusion of "Family Happiness") and, last night at least, the poems of Emily Dickenson. Keep writing in, and convince those Eastern Proust groups to loosen up!

Marcelita Swann

I am re-reading, in both New York and Boston; two groups in each city, where I meet the most interesting readers (through their eyes....).

Thinking my fellow Boston-Proustian may have attended Mark Calkin's group at the Mechanics' Institute Library instead of yours.
(I believe your group is "closed" and only for parents.)

So excited that you are finishing "The Fugitive" and will soon be transformative territory, "Time Regained," or some have claimed.

This Thursday will be an electric night in New York, as Harold Pinter's "The Proust Screenplay" will be read for the first time in public-in America.

Just watched Percy Aldon's film "Céleste." Hard to find, with English subtitles, but my favorite of all the features. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3hVEjVdLH78
Also, look for the short film, "La Part Céleste." http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xstb5t_extrait-2-du-film-la-part-celeste-de-thibaut-gobry_news (Part 2/3)

Either of these would be appropriate for the group's grand farewell.
This is why I am in so many groups, no farewells....we just return to "Swann's Way." ;)


Marcelita, our group is not closed and certainly not parents only! If you can extend your Boston-New York axis to make the triangle point of Berkeley, please join us for a meeting. Thank you for those links -- I will check them out. It is true, we are beginning to wonder how best to commemorate the last meeting, which I believe will be this May. We may watch a Proust-themed film. Or we may simply have a dinner and reminisce.

Marcelita Swann

What a journey!
I found your closing words bittersweet.
"I will miss you all. Thank you so much for being so passionate, so painful, so genuine, so dedicated, so kind, so fierce, so intelligent and so delightful a group of human beings as we grappled with this novel."

Will you continue to keep this reading blog online for future Proustians?
It's such a treasure....not unlike "performance art." ;)

Please reassure Florence that Marcel Proust valued a genuine friendship.
“I am not one of those who think that friendships, however rare they may be, should be easily gathered or discarded along the way." MP

Oh, if interested, your group members may wish to become "passive participants" in a Proust event in France, on July 4, 2014, with Laurence Grenier.

If you ever visit New York, with or without your charming children, a cup of tea is waiting.
So grateful,
Marcelita Swann


Thank you Marcelita! We are having withdrawal pains. I find that even my notes in the margins of Woolf's The Voyage Out are filled with references to Proust ("Just like Odette!").

Please stay in touch and let us know of Proust events like the one on July 4. And if you are in the Bay Area, let me know. I would love to have you over for a cup of tea out here as well, and hear about your far-flung explorations in Proust... and how you came up with your name… All best, Tom

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