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review 2018-05-08 19:17
Bone-in Meat Without the Meat: "Proust and the Squid" by Maryanne Wolf
Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain - Maryanne Wolf

“Will the split-second immediacy of information gained from a search engine and the sheer volume of what is available derail the slower, more deliberative processes that deepen our understanding of complex concepts, of another's inner thought processes, and of our own consciousness?"

 

In “Proust and the Squid by Maryanne Wolf”

 

 

Why wouldn't Amazon publish the ebook I wrote in 1986 on a ZX81 and posted to them saved on a cassette tape? On the other hand, I once (1988, I think) did the work for a non-linear dynamics paper on my Sinclair Spectrum, and produced the diagrams using the Spectrum's printer, which used sparks to burn dots in the silver coating of the paper, then photographing and enlarging them. It was submitted to the very snooty college journal. They accepted it but wondered if I couldn't make better diagrams. They published anyway when I said I couldn't. How I wish I could recover this. It’s in one of the floppy disk in my attic at home…I’ve still got several programming nuggets I developed at the time. One of them was a chess compiler in C. If I had the hardware to read that kind of media (I’ve still got the floppy disks, but I no longer have the drive that went along with them…), I could recover most of them too if I really set my mind to it. But I wouldn't regard it as worth the effort, so they'll eventually get lost without anyone ever knowing whether they are worth saving. Only me…A lot of forensics software aims to keep old formats readable - so incompatibility is the least of our worries. Books last for hundreds, even thousands of years. Modern storage media do not. 'Bit rot' is going to become a serious problem...

 

 

 

If you're into Proust and Programming Languages, read on.

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review 2017-12-16 13:40
Claustrophobic and Baroque Experience: "Swann's Way" by Marcel Proust
Swann's Way - Marcel Proust,Lydia Davis

I read Proust's masterpiece back in 1985. What did I know of life then? Nothing!

 

Having recently read a Smithsonian editorial that made fun of the novels, and remembering all too well one particular hilariously snippy Monty Python sketch (the Summarize Proust Competition), I too wanted to be able to rub elbows with the elite intellectuals who mocked Proust, so I picked up the first of three volumes (the weighty Moncrieff editions because I have no french whatsoever) and got started. The first few pages were tough going, but soon I became mesmerized, then I fell in love, and by the end of the summer I was tucking flowers into the plackets of my blouses and wearing bows in my hair.

 

Oh you kids. “Swann's Way” is the swiftest, plottiest volume in the monster, with “Un Amour de Swann” a little novel in itself, with a beginning, middle, end, and all that sort of thing. Originally drafted in a mere three volumes, the Recherche grew as Proust re-Proustified the later volumes while waiting for publication; many readers have wished that that long mini-book could be recovered. The pace picks up again in the last volume, which the author's death prevented him from reworking it, so that a dinner party—one of the greatest scenes in all literature, by the way—takes only a few hundred pages to describe, what with the jolts of consciousness with which Proust bracketed it, while the first half of the volume is impossibly brilliant about the first World War without ever leaving Paris.

 

 

If you're into Mundane Fiction, read on.

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review 2017-03-10 18:29
A Strangely Claustrophobic Experience: “How Proust Can Change Your Life” by Alain de Botton
How Proust Can Change Your Life - Alain de Botton

“To make [reading] into a discipline is to give too large a role to what is only an incitement. Reading is on the threshold of the spiritual life; it can introduce us to it: it does not constitute it.”

Quote from one of Proust’s books, In “How Proust Can Change Your Life” by Alain de Botton

 

“Even the finest books deserve to be thrown aside.”

In “How Proust Can Change Your Life” by Alain de Botton

 

 

I read Proust's masterpiece back in the 80s when I was attending the British Council. I still remember all too well one particular hilariously snippy Monty Python sketch (“the Summarize Proust Competition”). Back in the day, I too wanted to be able to rub elbows with the elite intellectuals who mocked Proust, so I picked up the first of three volumes (the weighty Moncrieff editions) and got started. The first few pages were tough going, but soon I became mesmerized, then I fell in love, and by the end of the summer I was tucking flowers into the plackets of my trousers and wearing bows in my shirts. Oh childhood! Swann's Way is the swiftest, plottiest volume in the monster, with “Un Amour de Swann” a little novel in itself, with a beginning, middle, end, and all that sort of thing. Originally drafted in a mere three volumes, the “Recherche” grew as Proust re-Proustified the later volumes while waiting for publication; many readers have wished that that long mini-book could be recovered.

 

If you're into Proust, read on.

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review 2016-08-02 16:06
The man known as the "greatest novelist of the 20th century"
Proust: The Search - Benjamin Taylor

Deanna Tiao from Yale University Press reached out to me for a review of the following book.

 

Benjamin Taylor's Proust: The Search is a part of the Jewish Lives series from Yale University Press. This biographical account details Proust's journey as a writer and his penultimate work In Search of Lost Time. I have to admit that until I read this book the only thing I knew about Proust was that he was a wordy writer and Steve Carell's character from Little Miss Sunshine was obsessed with him. He was most certainly a flawed man who had to contend with poor health, prejudices against his sexuality, and preoccupation with his chosen craft. The majority of his time was either spent wooing young men or feverishly writing. It seems he was quite feverish in his wooing as well although all of his romances were of short duration. He was passionate, intelligent, and ambitious. While this book is a part of the Jewish Lives series, Proust was not in fact religious. His mother was Jewish and because of that he would often speak up for the Jewish people but as often as not he would stay mute when others would decry the faith...except in reference to Alfred Dreyfus. During the course of the Dreyfus Affair, as it later came to be called, Proust was very interested in the proceedings and outspoken in his beliefs that a miscarriage of justice had occurred. Up until this point, he had been mainly concerned with other writer's and their works but after this he began to reflect on human nature and the changes that occur over time. I've decided to give In Search of Lost Time a shot and I've added it to my TRL. Taylor has certainly hyped it up and only time will tell if it lives up to it. (haha joke about time haha) Fans of biographies will most certainly enjoy this and if you've never really given Proust much thought then a read of this book might just change your mind. 8/10

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2016-05-29 00:00
Swann's Way
Swann's Way - Marcel Proust,Lydia Davis I fully appreciated this version of the novel for two reasons: I had read the Graphic Novel of the book (comic book) by Stephane Heuet, and I absolutely always love a George Guidall narration. I haven't listened to the other versions of this volume by other narrators, there's no need to since nobody narrates better than Guidall.

For me, this is a rare fictional book in which I would have been served by reading the physical copy since I could have underlined all of the brilliant lines within the text which clearly transcended the story that is ostensibly being told. Though, the interview at the end by the Proust expert mentions that the book is noted for it's extremely long sentences, but that would have confused me if I had to read it but for which I didn't really notice while listening.

This book was definitely worth while for me even though I almost never tip my toes into the murky water of great fiction, but I enjoy philosophy and this book within the text has plenty of insights into philosophy. I had noticed that Sartre in 'Being and Nothingness' had quoted from this book multiple times. There is a philosophical question that glides thru this book: 'how do we know what we know" and how our external and internal worlds form our perceptions, and of course the question of time and memory. But, I'll leave it to the individual listener to find their own wisdom within this book and to understand why this book is said to be the greatest book of the 20th century.

The book can be hard to follow because so much of it deals with "involuntary memory" excursions, but having had read the comic book fairly recently before listening to the story, I was never overly confused by where the narrator was in the story. (The expert at the end of the story mentioned that the narrator of this book does give his name once and his name is Marcel).

There is an extremely funny line in the book and I would not have understood it unless I had read the comic book and had my DNA sampled by 23andMe. It turns out there is a gene which some people carry which makes their 'chamber pot' smell of perfume if the person eats asparagus. The author makes use of that fact and says a line about that (though in this translation they say 'chamber' not 'chamber pot') and would have gone completely passed me if I had not been aware of that effect or had not read the comic.

My advice for people who want to read great literature but get confused by it because they can't always understand it is 1) get the graphic novel and 2) get this version narrated by Guidall, and you will be surprised by how much you'll get out of this book.

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