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Best Book of All Time to be Discussed at Columbia

Filed under: On the Spot   Tagged: , , , ,

Jonathan Taylor writes:

Next Wednesday, October 28, the Center for Fiction is sponsoring a discussion of Proust's À la recherche du temps perdu in English, at Columbia's Maison Française, with Antoine Compagnon and The New Yorker's Adam Gopnik. (Full details below the jump—seating is limited, so RSVP to join this "little clan.")

Warm up with a little combative reading on the newest translation into English, including Swann's Way rendered by Lydia Davis, whose collected stories were discussed by James Wood in last week's New Yorker.

I thought The New Yorker had carried a review of the Penguin translations, but I can't find such a thing. It did do a Briefly Noted of a cunning book about the liberal use of English in the original. And Gopnik once wrote, in the abstract's words, a "Comment about the similarities between Proust's house in Illiers, and writer's co-op on Broome Street."

In other Proust news, a new Reader's Guide to The Remembrance of Things Past, by Patrick Alexander, is recently out from Random House.

Marcel Proust: A Conversation

Antoine Compagnon and Adam Gopnik discuss
Á la recherche du temps perdu (In Search of Lost Time) In English
Wednesday, October 28th at 7pm
The Maison Francaise of Columbia University
East Gallery in Buell Hall (campus entrance at 116th and Broadway)

This event is cosponsored by The Proust Society of America, a program of The Center for Fiction; Maison Française at Columbia University; and The French-American Foundation.

Antoine Compagnon is the Blanche W. Knopf Professor of French and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. On Proust, after editing Du côté de chez Swann and Sodome et Gomorrhe, he published Proust entre deux siècles. Compagnon is also a professor at the Collège de France and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Acclaimed journalist, lecturer and author Adam Gopnik is a three-time National Magazine Award winner and recipient of the George Polk Award for Magazine Reporting. He has been a staff writer for The New Yorker since 1986.

Seating is very limited to this event so you must RSVP. Please e-mail the Center atevents@centerforfiction.org or call us at 212-755-6710 to reserve a spot.


Three of the magazine’s greatest critics were Proust-lovers: Edmund Wilson, V. S. Pritchett and John Updike. Of these three, Updike is the most rhapsodic. See his “Pinter’s Unproduced Proust Printed” (1977), “Proust Died For You” (1997), and “The Man in Bed” (2000) – all of which first appeared in The New Yorker. As well, Updike’s New Yorker reviews of works by Borges, Tolstoy, Barthes, Green, Wilson, Joyce, and Nabokov all contain references to Proust and to Remembrance of Things Past. Interestingly, Updike’s best-known essay on Proust, the incredibly beautiful “Remembrance of Things Past Remembered” was originally published not in The New Yorker but in Horizon. It can be found in his 1975 collection, Picked-Up Pieces. Another of the magazine’s passionate Proust devotees was its long-time poetry editor, Howard Moss. Moss wrote a great little study, The Magic Lantern of Marcel Proust (1963). See also his delightful essay, “One Hundred Years of Proust,” (The New Yorker, December 18, 1971).

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