Take the time to read Proust slowly–the novel isn’t structured by plot, but rather by memories, sensory experiences, associations, and meditations on time. We’re reading “Combray,” the “Overture” to the seven volume work In Search of Lost Time.
How would you compare Combray to other texts we’ve read that are impelled by memories? (the snow in Notes from Underground, Coleridge’s experience of soot in the fireplace generating a childhood memory in “Frost at Midnight”…)
Pay attention to the movement of time in this selection. How does it progress? Chronologically? Otherwise?
Read the introduction on “Modernism & Modernity.” What characteristics do you think make this a modernist novel?
Identify one object or experience that seems significant in this selection. What memories, thoughts, and feelings does it trigger for the narrator?
What is the difference for the narrator between “voluntary memory” and the kind of memory evoked by tasting the madeleine?
Pay attention to the narrator’s reference to various senses (hearing, seeing, etc.). How are these senses related to memory?