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Remembrance of things Proust

What is it about memory?

I was certain that Proust's memory-inducing treats were marzipan. Au contraire: they were madeleines.

I can you tell where and when I slogged through who-knows-how-many pages of Swann's Way (London, fall of 1981), but I cannot tell you what I read. Something about marzipan—er, madeleines—and smell and taste and memory. Maybe there was an old lady in there somewhere?

By contrast, I vividly recall Monty Python's "All-England Summarize Proust Competition" skit—or, at least, the Bolton Choral Society's tuxedoed, a cappella rendition of Remembrance of Things Past:

Proust in his first book wrote about, wrote about—

Proust in his first book wrote about, wrote about—

Ba ba ba ba, he wrote about,

Proust in his first book wrote about

Gong! Time's up!

So what is it about memory? To contemplate these questions—and perhaps some questions that actually matter—the French department is holding a Yale Proust Marathon on Saturday night, celebrating the 100th anniversary of Swann's Way.

"In a full-scale recreation of Proust's cork-lined bedroom, approximately 100 students, scholars, and guests will take turns reading their favorite passages from the masterpiece in the language of their choice: French, German, English, Chinese, Portuguese, and more," the website promises.

The fun begins November 16 at 7:30 pm and continues into the wee hours. I'm certain it will be a memorable event.

Filed under Proust, French department
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