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la recherche du temps perdu

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À la recherche du temps perdu is a French novel, or sequence of novels by Marcel Proust. It is considered to be part of the Western canon. The title translates roughly as In Search of Lost Time. A new translation announced in the late 1990s uses this title; previous English translations have gone by Remembrance of Things Past.

The original work was published in several volumes between 1913 and 1927. Rather than recount a clear sequence of events, the novel focuses on the narrator's memories: his recollections and the connections between them.

Early in the first volume, the narrator experiences a clear flash of memory from his childhood as he tastes a madeleine (a type of small sponge cake[?]) dipped in tea. This is probably the novel's best-known scene.

À la recherche du temps perdu consists of 7 volumes, although different editions split the work in different ways:

  • Du ct de chez Swann (1913)
  • À l'ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs (1919, awarded the 1919 Prix Goncourt).
  • Le côté de Guermantes (1922)
  • Sodome et Gomorrhe (1922)
  • La prisonnière (1923)
  • La fugitive (1925, published as Albertine disparue because another book with a similar title was published around the same time)
  • Le temps retrouvé (1927)

Un Amour de Swann, part two of Du côté de chez Swann, is often published as a volume by itself. Because it forms the self-contained story of Charles Swann's love affair with Odette de Crécy and is relatively short, it is generally considered a good introduction to the work and is often a set text in French schools.

Main Characters

  • The narrator
  • Charlus
  • Swann
  • Odette de Crécy
  • Francoise
  • Duchesse de Guermantes (Oriane)
  • Albertine
  • Gilberte
  • Mme Verdurin
  • Robert de Saint-Loup


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