A cure for Insomnia?
The problem with really long sentences in a novel is that the reader loses the plot halfway through. Which is what happened to me. It is remarkable how one can make sense of individual words but not understand a sentence.
Especially when the sentence is 163 words long!
I kid you not.
Admittedly the writer used semicolons to break up the text, but still, reading it was a feat of endurance.
And here is that sentence. Proust is talking about his aunt –
‘This was not to say, however, that she did not long, at times, for some even greater variation, that she did not pass through those abnormal hours in which one thirsts for something different from what one has, when those people who, through lack of energy or imagination, are unable to generate any motive power in themselves, cry out, as the clock strikes or the postman knocks, in their eagerness for news (even if it be bad news), for some emotion (even that of grief); when the heartstrings, which prosperity has silenced, like a harp laid by, yearn to be plucked and sounded again by some hand, even a brutal hand, even if it shall break them; when the will, which has with such difficulty brought itself to subdue its impulse, to renounce its right to abandon itself to its own controlled desires, and consequent sufferings, would fain cast its guiding reins into the hands of circumstances, coercive and, it may be, cruel.’
Here’s my version –
‘Even the announcement of a death would bring a welcome break from her monotonous routine.’
I know, I know, it’s somewhat lacking, but which is easier to read? I know my favourite (and it’s not the long one).
What is ‘In Search of Lost Time’ about (In 20 words)? (According to me, and slightly tongue-in-cheek)
Writer Proust uses umpteen words to describe his childhood memories and to wonder at the time lost in doing so.
What did I learn from reading ‘In Search of Lost Time’?
- It’s a book of two parts: the part I understood and the one I didn’t. You can guess which the larger part was . . .
- Would I read the next six volumes? Er, no. I didn’t enjoy the read, with the exception of a few insightful ‘Aha!’ paragraphs when I thought ‘I get this’. But I can honestly say I am sad I didn’t like it more.
- Amongst the convoluted sentences there’s a lovely little story. It’s a shame it’s buried.
- Brackets have no place in a novel. Discuss.
- The book would have cured my insomnia if, at 3.30 am, I hadn’t been so preoccupied with what I’d write in this blog.
- Why Proust spent so much of his time searching for lost time instead of just living in it, is beyond me.
My Next Read
It’s with absolute dread I announce my third read: ULYSSES by James Joyce. Oh, the horror! Now, I’m not one to give up easily, but I make it quite unashamedly clear at this stage that I will not be able to do this. If you manage to read more than nothing, please let me know.
Blink . . . and I’ll be back. After, no doubt, many sleepless nights pondering how much time I lost reading Proust, and if I can’t write about 'Ulysses' what can I write about in my next post?