It's a hundred years ago about this time of year that Marcel Proust holed himself up in a cork-lined room to begin writing A la recherche du temps perdu.
I have little to remember of Proust, as my copy of Swann's Way lies (mostly) unread under my bed (though I did read the first 30-odd pages about 20 years ago (and I don't remember them)).
But last week I received in the mail an unsolicited review copy of Marcel Proust's Search for Lost Time: A Reader's Guide to The Remembrance of Things Past, by Patrick Alexander, which has me thinking I should hole my own self up in a room to write a masterpiece. Or at least maybe I should consider finally reading what Proust came up with.
The Guide is somewhat meaningless to me at this stage, but from this side of the memory of an experience I haven't had yet, it looks like it might be useful: apart from the requisite section summaries, there are character lists, plenty of photos, a history of France (or the relevant bits anyway), and a map.
I hereby pledge to follow this Guide when the time comes to actually read Proust, quite possibly in the new year. (I'm afraid my dance card is pretty full until then.)
In the meantime, I'll be warming up to the reading of the book itself with the following activities:
Proust101: A one week course on all things Proust, free, via Twitter, starting October 1, 2009, and being repeated October 8, 2009. I am subscribed — I'll let you know if I learn anything.
ProustLive: The masterpiece will be tweeted, starting October 15, 2009.
And there's always the Proust Questionnaire, which I've been meaning to try out on a friend or two.
To learn more about the Guide, or read about how it came to be, or for hordes of Proustian resources, visit the website.