Calling all Francophiles, lovers of literature, and savvy challenge seekers. Have you ever dreamt of joining a French book club? Well, now’s your chance… Welcome to the MyFrenchLife™ 12-month French Literature Challenge 2018!
Every month this year, we challenge you to sit back, relax, and delve into one of in our specially chosen French books!
In April, we’re reading Marcel Proust.
Why take part in the MyFrenchLife™ book club?
Each month, we’ll be consulting our French literature experts to bring you a new and exciting French book review. We promise to dig deep and share our most intimate opinions, interpretations, and perceptions of France’s best literary offerings – and we’d love you to do the same!
Perhaps you can’t resist a challenge.
Whatever your reason, we challenge you to join us in our 2018 literary crusade – every opinion matters, especially yours.
This April we’re continuing the 12-month book challenge with Un Amour de Swann, the second narrative that forms part of Marcel Proust’s first tome: Du côté de chez Swann.
So, let’s all pick up our books and let the reading commence! Join our online book club, join the reading, join the fun – and have your voice heard.
Marcel Proust’s – Un Amour de Swann
Buy here: en francais & in English – dual language book
Marcel Proust: a novella of love
Proust delves into the world of Charles Swann in this part of Du côté de chez Swann, as he meets Odette de Crécy in the Verdurin’s Salon.
The Salon is extremely exclusive, welcoming only the rich bourgeoisie that the Verdurins deem acceptable.
Our story begins with Odette, who requests Madame Verdurin to meet the famously rich and successful art critic, Charles Swann. Odette herself, nonetheless, is far from upper class, rich and intelligent. Yet, it is arguably through being a very good seductress, as well as the potential peer-pressure placed on Swann, that Odette can lure her way into his life.
Swann: obsessive passion & overpowering jealousy
Readers will be surprised to see that Odette does not meet Swann’s very high expectations at the beginning of the narrative. Her class status and also her lack of intelligence almost repel him, yet, not as much as the fact that she is far from beautiful.
Instead, Swann prefers aristocratic women who are like paintings: simply superficially beautiful. Ironically, some may argue this is how Swann finally allows himself to fall in love with Odette, through her close resemblance to a girl in a painting.
(I personally think it was due to the peer pressure of the Salon, the recurring music, that takes him into a space that transcends the city… but we can discuss this later with your opinions!)
Odette: continued infidelity…
Odette, however, does not stop once she has captured her Swann.
Her life continues to be rife with infidelity!
(Maybe she could give Madame Bovary a run for her money?)
One of the best scenes to watch out for is Swann running around Paris to find Odette.
The obscure, dark scenes begin to reflect the lover’s anxiety, as she hasn’t appeared at the Salon. This anxiety is further extenuated when Swann is confronted with her infidelity… Will he stay with her? How does he deal with his problems? Does he cope in the end? Well, that would be spoiling the ending, wouldn’t it?
Proust: the beauty of his language
Proust’s language is poetic, and at times metaphorical.
This language can be a challenge for French language beginners, and even for those who consider themselves to be at an advanced level.
The beauty of the Proustian sentence is that they are long and complicated. Be warned but don’t feel disheartened when reading! Try to break the sentences down and concentrate on the beautiful, poetic images he creates!
Don’t hesitate to join the discussion below and also use it as a way to confirm your comprehension and discuss what confuses you! I can’t wait to discuss what you loved or hated about our April book challenge! Remember, every opinion matters! Let’s get reading and challenge ourselves.
Now it’s your turn – get involved here.
Let the challenge begin!
Here you will find full details of our 2018 French literature challenge and READING LIST
In true book club fashion, we’re eager to get together – if only virtually – and compare literary notes. Leave your reviews in the comments box and complete the questions in the reading guidance form linked below.
Did you enjoy Marcel Proust’s ‘Un Amour de Swann’? We’d love to hear your thoughts and reflections in the comments box below – here’s where you GET INVOLVED.
1. © Jessica Rushton
2. Marcel Proust via Gallimard.fr
3. Un amour de Swann via Openlibrary.org
4. Un amour de Swann via Gallimard.fr