Marcy Kahan is a member of the 3rd Proust cycle in the LLS; she will be facilitating a course on Nabokov later this autumn…

Seven ways to get the most out of Proust

Feeling excited at the prospect of Radio 4’s Proust Marathon – the new 10-hour dramatisation of Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time? Playwright Marcy Kahan – a lifelong Proustian – urges you to channel your inner Marcel by doing some active preparation.

1. Go to bed early

Try to recall all the rooms in which you’ve ever slept, then narrow this down to your childhood bedroom. This is how the novel begins – with its middle-aged narrator, Marcel, trying to get to sleep.

Now it’s time to remember a moment in your life when a song, a taste, a smell, a texture suddenly summoned up a huge cascade of memory – recapturing an entire season in your life. Are you there yet? Congratulations. You and Marcel have embarked on the same enterprise.

There is no need to do this in French.

2. Fall disastrously in love

You must be keen to spend every waking and sleeping moment with the love-object. When your beloved is absent, you will torment yourself with what they might be doing and who they might be doing it with. Your need to control the beloved must be compulsive, tormenting and hugely time-consuming.

You will not be alone in your emotional and erotic obsession: in Proust’s novel the cosmopolitan Charles Swann is racked with jealousy over Odette, while young Marcel puts his life on hold as he tries to control Albertine.

You are allowed to eventually marry the love-object. Your marriage will astound your friends. This happens to one of the characters in the novel.

For the remaining five ways: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/1hbtflHh7vyJTpNT2vRpFwz/seven-ways-to-get-the-most-out-of-proust

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