In Search of Lost Time Pdf, Summary, Reviews by Marcel Proust

In search of Lost Time pdf Overview

In search of lost time pdf is a novel in seven volumes by the  French author Marcel Proust. The novel in French is called “À la recherche du temps perdu.” It was first translated into English as Remembrance of Things Past, and it is sometimes referred to in French as La Recherche which means The Search.

In search of lost time, is Marcel Proust’s most prominent early 20th-century work. known both for its length and its theme of involuntary memory. 

The most famous example of this is the “episode of the madeleine”, which occurs early in the first volume. 

The novel gained fame in English in translations by C. K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin as Remembrance of Things Past, but the title In Search of Lost Time, a literal rendering of the French, became ascendant after D. J. Enright adopted it for his revised translation published in 1992.

In Search of Lost Time pdf follows the narrator’s recollections of childhood and experiences into adulthood in the late 19th-century and early 20th-century high-society France, while reflecting on the loss of time and lack of meaning in the world. 

In search of lost time pdf video summary and review

In Search of Lost Time Summary (Wikipedia)

In summary, in search of Lost time recounts the experiences of the Narrator (who is never definitively named) while he is growing up, learning about art, participating in society, and falling in love.

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In Search of Lost Time pdf Volume One Summary : Swann’s Way

The Narrator begins by noting, “For a long time, I went to bed early.” He comments on the way sleep seems to alter one’s surroundings, and the way habit makes one indifferent to them. He remembers being in his room in the family’s country home in Combray, while downstairs his parents entertained their friend Charles Swann, an elegant man of Jewish origin with strong ties to society. Due to Swann’s visit, the Narrator is deprived of his mother’s goodnight kiss, but he gets her to spend the night reading to him. This memory is the only one he has of Combray until years later the taste of a madeleine cake dipped in tea inspires a nostalgic incident of involuntary memory. He remembers having a similar snack as a child with his invalid aunt Léonie, and it leads to more memories of Combray. He describes their servant Françoise, who is uneducated but possesses an earthy wisdom and a strong sense of both duty and tradition. He meets an elegant “lady in pink” while visiting his uncle Adolphe. He develops a love of the theater, especially the actress Berma, and his awkward Jewish friend Bloch introduces him to the works of the writer Bergotte. He learns Swann made an unsuitable marriage but has social ambitions for his beautiful daughter Gilberte. Legrandin, a snobbish friend of the family, tries to avoid introducing the boy to his well-to-do sister. The Narrator describes two routes for country walks the child and his parents often enjoyed: the way past Swann’s home (the Méséglise way), and the Guermantes way, both containing scenes of natural beauty. Taking the Méséglise way, he sees Gilberte Swann standing in her yard with a lady in white, Mme. Swann, and her supposed lover: Baron de Charlus, a friend of Swann’s. Gilberte makes a gesture that the Narrator interprets as a rude dismissal. During another walk, he spies a lesbian scene involving Mlle. Vinteuil, daughter of a composer, and her friend. The Guermantes way is symbolic of the Guermantes family, the nobility of the area. The Narrator is awed by the magic of their name and is captivated when he first sees Mme. de Guermantes. He discovers how appearances conceal the true nature of things and tries writing a description of some nearby steeples. Lying in bed, he seems transported back to these places until he awakens.

Mme. Verdurin is an autocratic hostess who, aided by her husband, demands total obedience from the guests in her “little clan”. One guest is Odette de Crécy, a former courtesan, who has met Swann and invites him to the group. Swann is too refined for such company, but Odette gradually intrigues him with her unusual style. A sonata by Vinteuil, which features a “little phrase”, becomes the motif for their deepening relationship. The Verdurins host M. de Forcheville; their guests include Cottard, a doctor; Brichot, an academic; Saniette, the object of scorn; and a painter, M. Biche. Swann grows jealous of Odette, who now keeps him at arm’s length, and suspects an affair between her and Forcheville, aided by the Verdurins. Swann seeks respite by attending a society concert that includes Legrandin’s sister and a young Mme. de Guermantes; the “little phrase” is played and Swann realizes Odette’s love for him is gone. He tortures himself wondering about her true relationships with others, but his love for her, despite renewals, gradually diminishes. He moves on and marvels that he ever loved a woman who was not his type.

At home in Paris, the Narrator dreams of visiting Venice or the church in Balbec, a resort, but he is too unwell and instead takes walks in the Champs-Élysées, where he meets and befriends Gilberte. He holds her father, now married to Odette, in the highest esteem, and is awed by the beautiful sight of Mme. Swann strolling in public. Years later, the old sights of the area are long gone, and he laments the fleeting nature of places.

In Search of Lost Time pdf Volume Two Summary : In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower

The Narrator’s parents invite M. de Norpois, a diplomat colleague of the Narrator’s father, to dinner. With Norpois’s intervention, the Narrator is finally allowed to go and see the Berma perform in a play, but is disappointed by her acting. Afterwards, at dinner, he watches Norpois, who is extremely diplomatic and correct at all times, expound on society and art. The Narrator gives him a draft of his writing, but Norpois gently indicates it is not good. The Narrator continues to go to the Champs-Élysées and play with Gilberte. Her parents distrust him, so he writes to them in protest. He and Gilberte wrestle and he has an orgasm. Gilberte invites him to tea, and he becomes a regular at her house. He observes Mme. Swann’s inferior social status, Swann’s lowered standards and indifference towards his wife, and Gilberte’s affection for her father. The Narrator contemplates how he has attained his wish to know the Swanns, and savors their unique style. At one of their parties he meets and befriends Bergotte, who gives his impressions of society figures and artists. But the Narrator is still unable to start writing seriously. His friend Bloch takes him to a brothel, where there is a Jewish prostitute named Rachel. He showers Mme. Swann with flowers, being almost on better terms with her than with Gilberte. One day, he and Gilberte quarrel and he decides never to see her again. However, he continues to visit Mme. Swann, who has become a popular hostess, with her guests including Mme. Bontemps, who has a niece named Albertine. The Narrator hopes for a letter from Gilberte repairing their friendship, but gradually feels himself losing interest. He breaks down and plans to reconcile with her, but spies from afar someone resembling her walking with a boy and gives her up for good. He stops visiting her mother also, who is now a celebrated beauty admired by passersby, and years later he can recall the glamor she displayed then.

Two years later, the Narrator, his grandmother, and Françoise set out for the seaside town of Balbec. The Narrator is almost totally indifferent to Gilberte now. During the train ride, his grandmother, who only believes in proper books, lends him her favorite: the Letters of Mme. de Sévigné. At Balbec, the Narrator is disappointed with the church and uncomfortable in his unfamiliar hotel room, but his grandmother comforts him. He admires the seascape, and learns about the colorful staff and customers around the hotel: Aimé, the discreet head waiter; the lift operator; M. de Stermaria and his beautiful young daughter; and M. de Cambremer and his wife, Legrandin’s sister. His grandmother encounters an old friend, the blue-blooded Mme. de Villeparisis, and they renew their friendship. The three of them go for rides in the country, openly discussing art and politics. The Narrator longs for the country girls he sees alongside the roads, and has a strange feeling—possibly memory, possibly something else—while admiring a row of three trees. Mme. de Villeparisis is joined by her glamorous great-nephew Robert de Saint-Loup, who is involved with an unsuitable woman. Despite initial awkwardness, the Narrator and his grandmother become good friends with him. Bloch, the childhood friend from Combray, turns up with his family, and acts in typically inappropriate fashion. Saint-Loup’s ultra-aristocratic and extremely rude uncle the Baron de Charlus arrives. The Narrator discovers Mme. de Villeparisis, her nephew M. de Charlus, and his nephew Saint-Loup are all of the Guermantes family. Charlus ignores the Narrator, but later visits him in his room and lends him a book. The next day, the Baron speaks shockingly informally to him, then demands the book back. The Narrator ponders Saint-Loup’s attitude towards his aristocratic roots, and his relationship with his mistress, a mere actress whose recital bombed horribly with his family. One day, the Narrator sees a “little band” of teenage girls strolling beside the sea, and becomes infatuated with them, along with an unseen hotel guest named Mlle Simonet. He joins Saint-Loup for dinner and reflects on how drunkenness affects his perceptions. Later they meet the painter Elstir, and the Narrator visits his studio. The Narrator marvels at Elstir’s method of renewing impressions of ordinary things, as well as his connections with the Verdurins (he is “M. Biche ”) and Mme. Swann. He discovers the painter knows the teenage girls, particularly one dark-haired beauty who is Albertine Simonet. Elstir arranges an introduction, and the Narrator becomes friends with her, as well as her friends Andrée, Rosemonde, and Gisele. The group goes for picnics and tours the countryside, as well as playing games, while the Narrator reflects on the nature of love as he becomes attracted to Albertine. Despite her rejection, they become close, although he still feels attracted to the whole group. At summer’s end, the town closes up, and the Narrator is left with his image of first seeing the girls walking beside the sea.

In Search of Lost Time pdf Volume Three Summary: The Guermantes Way

The Narrator’s family has moved to an apartment connected with the Guermantes residence. Françoise befriends a fellow tenant, the tailor Jupien and his niece. The Narrator is fascinated by the Guermantes and their life, and is awed by their social circle while attending another Berma performance. He begins staking out the street where Mme. de Guermantes walks every day, to her evident annoyance. He decides to visit her nephew Saint-Loup at his military base, to ask to be introduced to her. After noting the landscape and his state of mind while sleeping, the Narrator meets and attends dinners with Saint-Loup’s fellow officers, where they discuss the Dreyfus Affair and the art of military strategy. But the Narrator returns home after receiving a call from his aging grandmother. Mme. de Guermantes declines to see him, and he also finds he is still unable to begin writing. Saint-Loup visits on leave, and they have lunch and attend a recital with his actress mistress: Rachel, the Jewish prostitute, toward whom the unsuspecting Saint-Loup is crazed with jealousy. The Narrator then goes to Mme. de Villeparisis’s salon, which is considered second-rate despite its public reputation. Legrandin attends and displays his social climbing. Bloch stridently interrogates M. de Norpois about the Dreyfus Affair, which has ripped all of society asunder, but Norpois diplomatically avoids answering. The Narrator observes Mme. de Guermantes and her aristocratic bearing, as she makes caustic remarks about friends and family, including the mistresses of her husband, who is M. de Charlus’s brother. Mme. Swann arrives, and the Narrator remembers a visit from Morel, the son of his uncle Adolphe’s valet, who revealed that the “lady in pink” was Mme. Swann. Charlus asks the Narrator to leave with him, and offers to make him his protégé. At home, the Narrator’s grandmother has worsened, and while walking with him she suffers a stroke.

The family seeks out the best medical help, and she is often visited by Bergotte, himself unwell, but she dies, her face reverting to its youthful appearance. Several months later, Saint-Loup, now single, convinces the Narrator to ask out the Stermaria daughter, newly divorced. Albertine visits; she has matured and they share a kiss. The Narrator then goes to see Mme. de Villeparisis, where Mme. de Guermantes, whom he has stopped following, invites him to dinner. The Narrator daydreams of Mme. de Stermaria, but she abruptly cancels, although Saint-Loup rescues him from despair by taking him to dine with his aristocratic friends, who engage in petty gossip. Saint-Loup passes on an invitation from Charlus to come visit him. The next day, at the Guermantes’s dinner party, the Narrator admires their Elstir paintings, then meets the cream of society, including the Princess of Parma, who is an amiable simpleton. He learns more about the Guermantes: their hereditary features; their less-refined cousins the Courvoisiers; and Mme. de Guermantes’s celebrated humor, artistic tastes, and exalted diction (although she does not live up to the enchantment of her name). The discussion turns to gossip about society, including Charlus and his late wife; the affair between Norpois and Mme. de Villeparisis; and aristocratic lineages. Leaving, the Narrator visits Charlus, who falsely accuses him of slandering him. The Narrator stomps on Charlus’s hat and storms out, but Charlus is strangely unperturbed and gives him a ride home. Months later, the Narrator is invited to the Princesse de Guermantes’s party. He tries to verify the invitation with M. and Mme. de Guermantes, but first sees something he will describe later. They will be attending the party but do not help him, and while they are chatting, Swann arrives. Now a committed Dreyfusard, he is very sick and nearing death, but the Guermantes assure him he will outlive them.

In Search of Lost Time pdf Volume Four Summary: Sodom and Gomorrah

The Narrator describes what he had seen earlier: while waiting for the Guermantes to return so he could ask about his invitation, he saw Charlus encounter Jupien in their courtyard. The two then went into Jupien’s shop and had intercourse. The Narrator reflects on the nature of “inverts”, and how they are like a secret society, never able to live in the open. He compares them to flowers, whose reproduction through the aid of insects depends solely on happenstance. Arriving at the Princesse’s party, his invitation seems valid as he is greeted warmly by her. He sees Charlus exchanging knowing looks with the diplomat Vaugoubert, a fellow invert. After several tries, the Narrator manages to be introduced to the Prince de Guermantes, who then walks off with Swann, causing speculation on the topic of their conversation. Mme. de Saint-Euverte tries to recruit guests for her party the next day, but is subjected to scorn from some of the Guermantes. Charlus is captivated by the two young sons of M. de Guermantes’s newest mistress. Saint-Loup arrives and mentions the names of several promiscuous women to the Narrator. Swann takes the Narrator aside and reveals the Prince wanted to admit his and his wife’s pro-Dreyfus leanings. Swann is aware of his old friend Charlus’s behavior, then urges the Narrator to visit Gilberte, and departs. The Narrator leaves with M. and Mme. de Guermantes, and heads home for a late-night meeting with Albertine. He grows frantic when first she is late and then calls to cancel, but he convinces her to come. He writes an indifferent letter to Gilberte, and reviews the changing social scene, which now includes Mme. Swann’s salon centered on Bergotte.

He decides to return to Balbec, after learning the women mentioned by Saint-Loup will be there. At Balbec, grief at his grandmother’s suffering, which was worse than he knew, overwhelms him. He ponders the intermittencies of the heart and the ways of dealing with sad memories. His mother, even sadder, has become more like his grandmother in homage. Albertine is nearby and they begin spending time together, but he starts to suspect her of lesbianism and of lying to him about her activities. He fakes a preference for her friend Andrée to make her become more trustworthy, and it works, but he soon suspects her of knowing several scandalous women at the hotel, including Lea, an actress. On the way to visit Saint-Loup, they meet Morel, the valet’s son who is now an excellent violinist, and then the aging Charlus, who falsely claims to know Morel and goes to speak to him. The Narrator visits the Verdurins, who are renting a house from the Cambremers. On the train with him is the little clan: Brichot, who explains at length the derivation of the local place-names; Cottard, now a celebrated doctor; Saniette, still the butt of everyone’s ridicule; and a new member, Ski. The Verdurins are still haughty and dictatorial toward their guests, who are as pedantic as ever. Charlus and Morel arrive together, and Charlus’s true nature is barely concealed. The Cambremers arrive, and the Verdurins barely tolerate them.

Back at the hotel, the Narrator ruminates on sleep and time, and observes the amusing mannerisms of the staff, who are mostly aware of Charlus’s proclivities. The Narrator and Albertine hire a chauffeur and take rides in the country, leading to observations about new forms of travel as well as country life. The Narrator is unaware that the chauffeur and Morel are acquainted, and he reviews Morel’s amoral character and plans towards Jupien’s niece. The Narrator is jealously suspicious of Albertine but grows tired of her. She and the Narrator attend evening dinners at the Verdurins, taking the train with the other guests; Charlus is now a regular, despite his obliviousness to the clan’s mockery. He and Morel try to maintain the secret of their relationship, and the Narrator recounts a ploy involving a fake duel that Charlus used to control Morel. The passing station stops remind the Narrator of various people and incidents, including two failed attempts by the Prince de Guermantes to arrange liaisons with Morel; a final break between the Verdurins and Cambremers; and a misunderstanding between the Narrator, Charlus, and Bloch. The Narrator has grown weary of the area and prefers others over Albertine. But she reveals to him as they leave the train that she has plans with Mlle Vinteuil and her friend (the lesbians from Combray) which plunges him into despair. He invents a story about a broken engagement of his, to convince her to go to Paris with him, and after hesitating she suddenly agrees to go immediately. The Narrator tells his mother: he must marry Albertine.

In Search of Lost Time pdf Volume Five Summary: The Prisoner

The Narrator is living with Albertine in his family’s apartment, to Françoise’s distrust and his absent mother’s chagrin. He marvels that he has come to possess her, but has grown bored with her. He mostly stays home, but has enlisted Andrée to report on Albertine’s whereabouts, as his jealousy remains. The Narrator gets advice on fashion from Mme. de Guermantes, and encounters Charlus and Morel visiting Jupien and her niece, who is being married off to Morel despite his cruelty towards her. One day, the Narrator returns from the Guermantes and finds Andrée just leaving, claiming to dislike the smell of their flowers. Albertine, who is more guarded to avoid provoking his jealousy, is maturing into an intelligent and elegant young lady. The Narrator is entranced by her beauty as she sleeps, and is only content when she is not out with others. She mentions wanting to go to the Verdurins, but the Narrator suspects an ulterior motive and analyzes her conversation for hints. He suggests she go instead to the Trocadéro with Andrée, and she reluctantly agrees. The Narrator compares dreams to wakefulness, and listens to the street vendors with Albertine, then she departs. He remembers trips she took with the chauffeur, then learns Lea the notorious actress will be at the Trocadero too. He sends Françoise to retrieve Albertine, and while waiting, he muses on music and Morel. When she returns, they go for a drive, while he pines for Venice and realizes she feels captive. He learns of Bergotte’s final illness. That evening, he sneaks off to the Verdurins to try to discover the reason for Albertine’s interest in them. He encounters Brichot on the way, and they discuss Swann, who has died. Charlus arrives and the Narrator reviews the Baron’s struggles with Morel, then learns Mlle Vinteuil and her friend are expected (although they do not come). Morel joins in performing a septet by Vinteuil, which evokes commonalities with his sonata that only the composer could create. Mme. Verdurin is furious that Charlus has taken control of her party; in revenge the Verdurins persuade Morel to repudiate him, and Charlus falls temporarily ill from the shock. Returning home, the Narrator and Albertine fight about his solo visit to the Verdurins, and she denies having affairs with Lea or Mlle Vinteuil, but admits she lied on occasion to avoid arguments. He threatens to break it off, but they reconcile. He appreciates art and fashion with her, and ponders her mysteriousness. But his suspicion of her and Andrée is renewed, and they quarrel. After two awkward days and a restless night, he resolves to end the affair, but in the morning Françoise informs him: Albertine has asked for her boxes and left.

In Search of Lost Time Volume Six Summary: The Fugitive

The Narrator is anguished at Albertine’s departure and absence. He dispatches Saint-Loup to convince her aunt Mme. Bontemps to send her back, but Albertine insists the Narrator should ask, and she will gladly return. The Narrator lies and replies he is done with her, but she just agrees with him. He writes to her that he will marry Andrée, then hears from Saint-Loup of the failure of his mission to the aunt. Desperate, he begs Albertine to return, but receives word: she has died in a riding accident. He receives two last letters from her: one wishing him and Andrée well, and one asking if she can return. The Narrator plunges into suffering amid the many different memories of Albertine, intimately linked to all of his everyday sensations. He recalls a suspicious incident she told him of at Balbec, and asks Aime, the headwaiter, to investigate. He recalls their history together and his regrets, as well as love’s randomness. Aime reports back: Albertine often engaged in affairs with girls at Balbec. The Narrator sends him to learn more, and he reports other liaisons with girls. The Narrator wishes he could have known the true Albertine, whom he would have accepted. He begins to grow accustomed to the idea of her death, despite constant reminders that renew his grief. Andrée admits her own lesbianism but denies being with Albertine. The Narrator knows he will forget Albertine, just as he has forgotten Gilberte.

He happens to meet Gilberte again; her mother Mme. Swann became Mme. de Forcheville and Gilberte are now part of high society, received by the Guermantes. The Narrator publishes an article in Le Figaro. Andrée visits him and confesses her relations with Albertine. She also explains the truth behind Albertine’s departure: her aunt wanted her to marry another man. The Narrator and his mother visit Venice, which enthralls him. They happen to see Norpois and Mme. de Villeparisis there. A telegram signed from Albertine arrives, but the Narrator is indifferent and it is only a misprint anyway. Returning home, the Narrator and his mother receive surprising news: Gilberte will marry Saint-Loup, and Jupien’s niece will be adopted by Charlus and then married to Legrandin’s nephew, an invert. There is much discussion of these marriages among society. The Narrator visits Gilberte in her new home, and is shocked to learn of Saint-Loup’s affair with Morel, among others. He despairs for their friendship.

In Search of Lost Time Volume Seven Summary: Time Regained

The Narrator is staying with Gilberte at her home near Combray. They go for walks, on one of which he is stunned to learn the Méséglise way and the Guermantes way are actually linked. Gilberte also tells him she was attracted to him when young, and had made a suggestive gesture to him as he watched her. Also, it was Lea she was walking with in the evening he had planned to reconcile with her. He considers Saint-Loup’s nature and reads an account of the Verdurins’ salon, deciding he has no talent for writing.

The scene shifts to a night in 1916, during World War I, when the Narrator has returned to Paris from a stay in a sanatorium and is walking the streets during a blackout. He reflects on the changed norms of art and society, with the Verdurins now highly esteemed. He recounts a 1914 visit from Saint-Loup, who was trying to enlist secretly. He recalls descriptions of the fighting he subsequently received from Saint-Loup and Gilberte, whose home was threatened. He describes a call paid on him a few days previously by Saint-Loup; they discussed military strategy. Now on the dark street, the Narrator encounters Charlus, who has completely surrendered to his impulses. Charlus reviews Morel’s betrayals and his own temptation to seek vengeance; critiques Brichot’s new fame as a writer, which has ostracized him from the Verdurins; and admits his general sympathy with Germany. The last part of the conversation draws a crowd of suspicious onlookers. After parting, the Narrator seeks refuge in what appears to be a hotel, where he sees someone who looks familiar leaving. Inside, he discovers it to be a male brothel, and spies Charlus using the services. The proprietor turns out to be Jupien, who expresses a perverse pride in his business. A few days later, news comes that Saint-Loup has been killed in combat. The Narrator pieces together that Saint-Loup had visited Jupien’s brothel, and ponders what might have been had he lived.

Years later, again in Paris, the Narrator goes to a party at the house of the Prince de Guermantes. On the way he sees Charlus, now a mere shell of his former self, being helped by Jupien. The paving stones at the Guermantes house inspire another incident of involuntary memory for the Narrator, quickly followed by two more. Inside, while waiting in the library, he discerns their meaning: by putting him in contact with both the past and present, the impressions allow him to gain a vantage point outside time, affording a glimpse of the true nature of things. He realizes his whole life has prepared him for the mission of describing events as fully revealed, and (finally) resolves to begin writing. Entering the party, he is shocked at the disguises old age has given to the people he knew, and at the changes in society. Legrandin is now an invert, but is no longer a snob. Bloch is a respected writer and vital figure in society. Morel has reformed and become a respected citizen. Mme. de Forcheville is the mistress of M. de Guermantes. Mme. Verdurin married the Prince de Guermantes after both their spouses died. Rachel is the star of the party, abetted by Mme. de Guermantes, whose social position has been eroded by her affinity for theater. Gilberte introduces her daughter to the Narrator; he is struck by the way the daughter encapsulates both the Méséglise and Guermantes ways within herself. He is spurred to writing, with help from Françoise and despite signs of approaching death. He realizes that every person carries within them the accumulated baggage of their past, and concludes that to be accurate he must describe how everyone occupies an immense range “in Time”.

Themes Explored in the Novel “In search of Lost Time” pdf


The role of memory is central to the novel, introduced with the famous madeleine episode in the first section of the novel and in the last volume, Time Regained, a flashback similar to that caused by the madeleine is the beginning of the resolution of the story. Throughout the work many similar instances of involuntary memory, triggered by sensory experiences such as sights, sounds and smells conjure important memories for the narrator and sometimes return attention to an earlier episode of the novel. Although Proust wrote contemporaneously with Sigmund Freud, with there being many points of similarity between their thought on the structures and mechanisms of the human mind, neither author read the other.

Separation anxiety

Proust begins his novel with the statement, “For a long time I used to go to bed early.” This leads to lengthy discussion of his anxiety at leaving his mother at night and his attempts to force her to come and kiss him goodnight, even on nights when the family has company, culminating in a spectacular success, when his father suggests that his mother stay the night with him after he has waylaid her in the hall when she is going to bed.

His anxiety leads to manipulation, much like the manipulation employed by his invalid aunt Leonie and all the lovers in the entire book, who use the same methods of petty tyranny to manipulate and possess their loved ones.

Nature of art

The nature of art is a motif in the novel and is often explored at great length. Proust sets forth a theory of art in which we are all capable of producing art, if by this we mean taking the experiences of life and transforming them in a way that shows understanding and maturity. Writing, painting, and music are also discussed at great length. Morel the violinist is examined to give an example of a certain type of “artistic” character, along with other fictional artists like the novelist Bergotte, the composer Vinteuil, and the painter Elstir.

As early as the Combray section of Swann’s Way, the narrator is concerned with his ability to write, since he desires to pursue a writing career. The transmutation of the experience of a scene in one of the family’s usual walks into a short descriptive passage is described and the sample passage given. The narrator presents this passage as an early sample of his own writing, in which he has only had to alter a few words. The question of his own genius relates to all the passages in which genius is recognized or misunderstood because it presents itself in the guise of a humble friend, rather than a passionate artist.

The question of taste or judgment in art is also an important theme, as exemplified by Swann’s exquisite taste in art, which is often hidden from his friends who do not share it or are subordinated to his love interests.


Questions pertaining to homosexuality appear throughout the novel, particularly in the later volumes. The first arrival of this theme comes in the Combray section of Swann’s Way, where the daughter of the piano teacher and composer Vinteuil is seduced, and the narrator observes her having lesbian relations in front of the portrait of her recently deceased father.

The narrator invariably suspects his lovers of liaisons with other women, a repetition of the suspicions held by Charles Swann about his mistress and eventual wife, Odette, in “Swann’s Way”. The first chapter of “Cities of the Plain” (“Sodom and Gomorrah”) includes a detailed account of a sexual encounter between M. de Charlus, the novel’s most prominent male homosexual, and his tailor. Critics have often observed that while the character of the narrator is ostensibly heterosexual, Proust intimates that the narrator is a closeted homosexual. The narrator’s manner towards male homosexuality is consistently aloof, yet the narrator is unaccountably knowledgeable. This strategy enables Proust to pursue themes related to male homosexuality—in particular the nature of closetedness—from both within and without a homosexual perspective. Proust does not designate Charlus’s homosexuality until the middle of the novel, in “Cities”; afterwards the Baron’s ostentatiousness and flamboyance, of which he is blithely unaware, completely absorb the narrator’s perception. Lesbianism, on the other hand, tortures Swann and the narrator because it presents an inaccessible world. Whereas male homosexual desire is recognizable, insofar as it encompasses male sexuality, Odette’s and Albertine’s lesbian trysts represent Swann and the narrator’s painful exclusion from characters they desire.

There is much debate as to how great a bearing Proust’s sexuality has on understanding these aspects of the novel. Although many of Proust’s close family and friends suspected that he was homosexual, Proust never admitted this. It was only after his death that André Gide, in his publication of correspondence with Proust, made public Proust’s homosexuality. In response to Gide’s criticism that he hid his actual sexuality within his novel, Proust told Gide that “one can say anything so long as one does not say ‘I’.

In Search of Lost Time Characters 

The Narrator’s household

  • The Narrator: A sensitive young man who wishes to become a writer, whose identity is kept vague. In volume 5, The Captive, he addresses the reader thus: “Now she began to speak; her first words were ‘darling’ or ‘my darling,’ followed by my Christian name, which, if we give the narrator the same name as the author of this book, would produce ‘darling Marcel’ or ‘my darling Marcel.'” (Proust, 64)
  • The Narrator’s father: A diplomat who initially discourages the Narrator from writing.
  • The Narrator’s mother: A supportive woman who worries for her son’s career.
  • Bathilde Amédée: The narrator’s grandmother. Her life and death greatly influence her daughter and grandson.
  • Aunt Léonie: A sickly woman whom the Narrator visits during stays at Combray.
  • Uncle Adolphe: The Narrator’s great-uncle, who has many actress friends.
  • Françoise: The narrator’s faithful, stubborn maid.

The Guermantes

  • Palamède, Baron de Charlus: An aristocratic, decadent aesthete with many antisocial habits. Model is Robert de Montesquiou.
  • Oriane, Duchesse de Guermantes: The toast of Paris high society. She lives in the fashionable Faubourg St. Germain. Models are Comtesse Greffulhe and Comtesse de Chevigné.
  • Robert de Saint-Loup: An army officer and the narrator’s best friend. Despite his patrician birth (he is the nephew of M. de Guermantes) and affluent lifestyle, Saint-Loup has no great fortune of his own until he marries Gilberte. Models are Gaston de Cavaillet and Clement de Maugny.
  • Marquise de Villeparisis: The aunt of the Baron de Charlus. She is an old friend of the Narrator’s grandmother.
  • Basin, Duc de Guermantes: Oriane’s husband and Charlus’s brother. He is a pompous man with a succession of mistresses.
  • Prince de Guermantes: The cousin of the Duc and Duchess.
  • Princesse de Guermantes: Wife of the Prince.

The Swanns

  • Charles Swann: A friend of the narrator’s family (he is modeled on at least two of Proust’s friends, Charles Haas and Charles Ephrussi). His political views on the Dreyfus Affair and marriage to Odette ostracize him from much of high society.
  • Odette de Crécy: A beautiful Parisian courtesan. Odette is also referred to as Mme Swann, the lady in pink, and in the final volume, Mme de Forcheville.
  • Gilberte Swann: The daughter of Swann and Odette. She takes the name of her adopted father, M. de Forcheville, after Swann’s death, and then becomes Mme de Saint-Loup following her marriage to Robert de Saint-Loup, which joins Swann’s Way and the Guermantes Way.


  • Elstir: A famous painter whose renditions of sea and sky echo the novel’s theme of the mutability of human life. Modeled on Claude Monet.
  • Bergotte: A well-known writer whose works the narrator has admired since childhood. The models are Anatole France and Paul Bourget.
  • Vinteuil: An obscure musician who gains posthumous recognition for composing a beautiful, evocative sonata, known as the Vinteuil Sonata.
  • Berma: A famous actress who specializes in roles by Jean Racine.

The Verdurins’ “Little Clan”

  • Madame Verdurin (Sidonie Verdurin): A poseur and a salonnière who rises to the top of society through inheritance, marriage, and sheer single-mindedness. One of the models is Madame Arman de Caillavet.
  • M. Verdurin: The husband of Mme Verdurin, who is her faithful accomplice.
  • Cottard: A doctor who is very good at his work.
  • Brichot: A pompous academic.
  • Saniette: A palaeographer who is subjected to ridicule by the clan.
  • M. Biche: A painter who is later revealed to be Elstir.

The “little band” of Balbec girls

  • Albertine Simonet: A privileged orphan of average beauty and intelligence. The narrator’s romance with her is the subject of much of the novel.
  • Andrée: Albertine’s friend, whom the Narrator occasionally feels attracted to.
  • Gisèle and Rosemonde: Other members of the little band.
  • Octave: Also known as “I’m a wash-out”, a rich boy who leads an idle existence at Balbec and is involved with several of the girls. Model is a young Jean Cocteau.

Other Characters in the Novel “In Search of Lost Time”

  • Charles Morel: The son of a former servant of the narrator’s uncle and a gifted violinist. He profits greatly from the patronage of the Baron de Charlus and later Robert de Saint-Loup.
  • Rachel: A prostitute and actress who is the mistress of Robert de Saint-Loup.
  • Marquis de Norpois: A diplomat and friend of the Narrator’s father. He is involved with Mme de Villeparisis.
  • Albert Bloch: A pretentious Jewish friend of the Narrator, later a successful playwright: an alter ego of Marcel.
  • Jupien: A tailor who has a shop in the courtyard of the Guermantes hotel. He lives with his niece.
  • Madame Bontemps: Albertine’s aunt and guardian.
  • Legrandin: A snobbish friend of the Narrator’s family. Engineer and man of letters.
  • Marquis and Marquise de Cambremer: Provincial gentry who live near Balbec. Mme de Cambremer is Legrandin’s sister.
  • Mlle Vinteuil: Daughter of the composer Vinteuil. She has a wicked friend who encourages her to lesbianism.
  • Léa: A notorious lesbian actress in residence at Balbec.

The Author of In Search of Lost Time – Marcel Proust

Marcel Proust - Author of In search of lost time
Marcel Proust – Author of In search of lost time

Valentin Louis Georges Eugène Marcel Proust 10 July 1871 – 18 November 1922) was a French novelist, critic, and essayist who wrote the monumental novel “In Search of Lost Time” pdf (À la recherche du temps perdu; with the previous English title translation of Remembrance of Things Past), originally published in French in seven volumes between 1913 and 1927. He is considered by critics and writers to be one of the most influential authors of the 20th century.

Marcel Proust was born in the Parisian suburb of Auteuil on July 10, 1871. He began work on In Search of Lost Time sometime around 1908, and the first volume, Swann’s Way, was published in 1913. In 1919 the second volume, Within a Budding Grove, won the Goncourt Prize, bringing Proust great and instantaneous fame. Two subsequent installments—The Guermantes Way (1920–21) and Sodom and Gomorrah (1921)—appeared in his lifetime. The remaining volumes were published following Proust’s death on November 18, 1922: The Captive in 1923, The Fugitive in 1925, and Time Regained in 1927.

In Search of Lost Time pdf Book Information

Below are some of the basic information about the book In search of lost time pdf.

In search of lost time pdf
In search of lost time pdf
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Modern Library; SLP edition (June 3, 2003)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 4211 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0812969642
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0812969641
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 8.38 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 8.41 x 5.37 x 8.5 inches
  • Best Sellers Rank: #59,726 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • #56 in French Literature (Books)
  • #395 in Biographical Fiction (Books)
  • #550 in Classic American Literature
  • Customer Reviews: 4.8 out of 5 stars    273 ratings

In Search of Lost Time pdf Book Review

Editorial Reviews

“Twice amended to bring it to documentary decorum and the kind of textual completion Proust himself could never achieve, the C. K. Scott Moncrieff translation of the Search, buffed, rebuffed, lightened, tightened, and in the abstergent sense, brightened, constitutes a monument which is also a medium—the medium by which to gain access to the book, the books, even the apocrypha of modern scripture. A triumph of tone, of a single (and singular) vision, this ultimate revision of the primary version affords the surest sled over the ice fields as well as the most sinuous surfboard over the breakers of Proustian prose, an invaluable and inescapable text.” —Richard Howard

From the Back Cover

“Twice amended to bring it to documentary decorum and the kind of textual completion Proust himself could never achieve, the C. K. Scott Moncrieff translation of the Search, buffed, rebuffed, lightened, tightened, and in the abstergent sense, brightened, constitutes a monument which is also a medium—the medium by which to gain access to the book, the books, even the apocrypha of modern scripture. A triumph of tone, of a single (and singular) vision, this ultimate revision of the primary version affords the surest sled over the ice fields as well as the most sinuous surfboard over the breakers of Proustian prose, an invaluable and inescapable text.” —Richard Howard

Reviews from Amazon

Mel C. Thompson
5.0 out of 5 stars 
The Greatest Inside Scoop On All The Things The People In Your Life Won’t Tell You
Reviewed in the United States on October 24, 2020

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It’s a long read, for sure. And for a couple thousand pages, you might not see the point. Look for how people talk to each other. Look for the excuses given for why people evade each other. Check for why some people are preferred over others. Listen for explanations you’ve been given about people and life that never rang true. If you want to understand every lie ever told to you and what was going on behind the scenes with the insiders, then this book is for you. I notice that the more privileged the person, the more they don’t understand the point of the book or they find it annoying or tiresome. For folks who’ve been on the outside looking in and who always wanted to know how the insiders play everything and what they thought about you and why they told you the things they did, this book rocks. It’s not an easy read. Since you yourself, and since I myself, have been on both the deceiving end and on the being deceived end, it can be hard to stare that long at the really real arrangements that we actually live under versus the virtue-signaling public relations spin we give to everyone. You can’t read all six volumes of this and ever really be socially deceived again, but also, you might not ever again, without feeling unduly self-conscious, be able to pull off the social scams you usually do either. This is why the book is “confusing” to so many people. The French and the Russians can accept this kind of thing, but this book runs afoul of the puritanical self-deception of the Anglo world which insists that it be taken seriously. Mere deference to the system is not enough in the Anglosphere, but you must swear that you’re enthusiastic for it, which, of course, is a pretension the French and the Russians saw through with ease. It’s only a book for people who are okay if everything they need to believe now turns out to be something akin to an elaborate fraud.

5.0 out of 5 stars Do your due diligence
Reviewed in the United States on June 8, 2017

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If you are looking to buy the Kindle version “Proust 6-pack”, check out the pricing of the individual Kindle volumes before doing so. At the time of this review, the first volume costs $12.99, while successive volumes cost $2.99 each, a total of about $27.95. Strangely, the 6-pack costs $49.99.

David Holmes
5.0 out of 5 stars On Reading In Search of Lost Time
Reviewed in the United States on July 16, 2014
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Three days ago I finished reading Proust’s In Search of Lost Time. Today I will begin my second reading. That’s the best recommendation I can give. In a lifetime of reading I have never read a book twice in a row outside of an academic requirement. This rereading is not motivated by a sense of “that was good, hit restart and do it again.” There is a “secret” in Proust’s book that, when revealed, invites rereading. Its not a secret, I just don’t want to try to explain here when it is in the books I reference below. According to one source I read, it is not uncommon for those who finish Proust’s book to want to immediately reread.
This review is about how I completed my first reading, not a summary of the book. More than most books, first time readers of In Search of Lost Time need a plan to have a reasonable prospect for success. In this review I will share the questions I asked and decisions I made. The fact that I finished the book should indicate the decisions I made were right for me and my circumstance. I hope what I write will allow others to weigh my decisions and apply them to their own circumstance.
In order to judge how your circumstances differ from mine, a bit about mine. I’m in my early sixties and retired. I was able to plan on an hour of quiet time per day for Proust. I’m a lifelong reader with wide-ranging tastes. I tried reading In Search of Lost Time several times and never got past page 50. But Proust’s book remained on my Bucket Reading list. I read on my iPad using the Kindle App. I listened to the Audiobook and read simultaneously. My first reading took five months reading one hour a day on most days.
First decision, what is the book about and does it interest me? There is a lot of well intentioned but misguided and potentially misleading info about Proust’s book. Seek opinions from whomever you like. But I also strongly recommend seeking professional advice. I have two books to recommend. Not to buy and read entirely (at least not yet), but to read the introduction. If you have an e-reader, download these free samples and read them. These books are Proust’s Way: A Field Guide to In Search of Lost Time by Roger Shattuck and Marcel Proust’s Search for Lost Time: A Reader’s Guide to The Remembrance of Things Past by Patrick Alexander. These books address such questions as Proust’s style and the length of the book.

Next decision, which translation should I read? None ideally. Read it in French. That wasn’t an option for me. In my opinion the translation question is way over emphasized. This isn’t Homer, Virgil, Dante etc. Proust’s book was written One Hundred years ago. All modern English translations are suitable for first time readers. I used the Public Domain C.K.Scott Montcrieff translation for all but the last volume (which Moncrieff left unfinished at his death). I chose Moncrieff’s translation because it was what the Audiobook used. I was well satisfied. I have purchased the Modern Library version where I will post this review, but my second reading will also use Montcrieff’s translation. In comparing Modern Library’s (MKE) translation to Montcrieff the first sentence of the second paragraph starts: “I would ask myself what O’Clock it could be;” (Moncrieff) vs “I would ask myself what time it could be;” (MKE). If that kind of difference makes a difference to you, buy one of the expensive copyrighted translations.
Next decision, what edition should I use? One with the fewest footnotes, endnotes, summaries, appendices etc. Proust wrote In Search of Lost Time to be a self-contained story. There are hundred’s of character’s (but less than 20 main characters) lots of references to paintings, music, plays, and books. Character’s names and titles (for the aristocracy) are mind-boggling. Proust understand’s your concern and accommodates his readers. Names, places artwork etc that are important to the story are repeated over and over. Historical events are discussed by characters to understand what you need to know for the story. When such things are in past volumes, the circumstance of their location in the story are recalled to refresh the reader’s memory. Stopping to look up such things in appendices or footnotes interrupts the narrative flow. Narrative flow is important and one of the aesthetically pleasing aspects of the book. If you really want to know about a referenced art-work or historical event, make a note and look it up on Wikipedia after the day’s reading.

Next decision, what supplementary materials should I read to prepare for reading Proust? None. Oh, I did read Alain de Botton’s How Proust Can Change Your Life, great book, but not a deciding factor to read Proust for me. Summaries are counterproductive. Proust generates and maintains suspense by deliberately pacing disclosure of even minor details. Again citing Shattuck: “One must read Proust as carefully as a detective story in which any detail may become a clue to everything else.” In Search of Lost Time is enjoyed best one page at a time without any knowledge of what the next page will bring. Guides and notes I addressed above. Biographies of Proust are particularly counterproductive. Despite everything you read to the contrary, In Search of Lost Time is not Proust’s Autobiography. The more you focus on Proust, the harder it will be to understand the “big picture” of Proust’s book. AFTER completing In Search of Lost Time is the time to review reference books. I read the Shattuck book referenced above and Howard Moss’ The Magic Lantern of Marcel Proust after completing the book.
Next decision, listen to the Audiobook while reading? I learned some time ago that listening while reading gave me a tremendous advantage in accessing challenging literature. But Roger Shattuck puts the case best for listening to Proust, “The best way to discover and respond to Proust’s expressive voice, as well as the deliberate pacing of his narrative, is to hear the prose, to read it out loud.” Correct pronunciation of names, titles, places, ect. is important to me for comprehension. So I let the Audio Narrator do that for me (Naxos Production with Neville Jason narrating). Shattuck also states: “Without an auditory sense of the text, even in its most reflective and interior passages, the visual field of unrelieved print tends to become oppressive. Translations cannot convey the original texture, yet on this score the available versions perform remarkably well. They all bear reading aloud.” The Audio made the notoriously long sentences seem completely natural to me. There are several Audio versions of at least the first volume (Swann’s Way). The only Complete Unabridged AudioBook of In Search of Lost Time in English as of the date of this review is Naxos Production, Neville Jason narrator. The text narrated is the Moncrieff translation for the first six volumes and Jason and another gentleman collaborated on a translation for the seventh volume (which I didn’t use because there was no published text. I made do with reading the last volume and was fine with it because I knew how to read the text and pronounce names by then.
– Next decision, just listen to the Audiobook or an Abridged version? Having listened and read, I can’t imagine listening to this book without reading. It just does not seem well-suited to casual listening, at least to me. At 153 hours, Naxos claims their Audiobook of Proust’s book is the longest recorded to date. That’s lots of time to listen to other books. As for abridged versions, As a matter of preference I don’t read them. Your milage may vary.

Next decision, other techniques? I don’t normally highlight novels, but I highlighted a lot in Proust’s book. Electronic highlighting. This was a learned process as I went along. First I highlighted shifts in time and place (which are easy to loose track of). The narrator may be standing on a platform waiting to board a train, something makes him start thinking and we are off on a 20 page digression, its good to be able to flip back and see that we are still standing on the train platform. In a different color I highlighted names and titles of new characters and place names. I highlighted interesting or funny passages in a third color and seemingly important passages in a fourth color. Was it distracting? No, it became second nature.
A few closing thoughts on my first reading. For three and a quarter volumes I soldiered on. It was beautifully written and often very funny but I didn’t have the “fire in my belly.” Shattuck and others note that many give up after a few pages, or one to two volumes. You can’t even begin to understand the plot after the first two volumes (at least unaided as I recommend). Then the book “clicked” for me. It requires persistence. I’m really glad I stuck with it.

Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect Quality
Reviewed in the United States on January 8, 2021

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I was worried the deep discount on this item meant it might be damaged, but the whole set is in perfect condition, still shrink wrapped. It shipped quickly and was neatly packaged. Just what you hope for.
i can’t wait to start reading!


5.0 out of 5 stars 
having read it, I see why Proust has the reputation he has …
Reviewed in the United States on May 15, 2017

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A long slog. But well worth it. Actually one looooong novel spread over 7 books and it would have been longer had Proust lived longer. Beautifully told and nuanced view of fin-de-siecle Paris and France in general and of the mind and spirit of the narrator. I knew of it but wasn’t quite prepared for the virulent anti-semitism permeating all levels of French society ( witness the Dreyfus Affaire ). It was truly the end of old aristocratic Europe and how WWI swept all that away. A great variety of sexual permutations on display: how much was known and “done” but never talked about, at least publicly ! The meditations on art and music are arresting. It took me a little over 10 months of assiduous reading to plow through it all. Now that I have, I will after a break ( there are other books after all ) … I will read it again !

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