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Thursday, January 15, 2004
Hitchens on Proust

One of the finest writers of our time on one of the finest writers ever. I've read the first volume (Swann's Way) of Search (and in English, of course); reading Hitchens's criticism makes me crave the second even more. Sample:

If I were asked to "summarize: the achievement of Proust, I should reply as dauntlessly as I dared that his is the work par excellence that exposes and clarifies the springs of human motivation. Through his eyes we see what actuates the dandy and the lover and the grandee and the hypocrite and the poseur, with a transparency unexampled except in Shakespeare or George Eliot. And this ability, so piercing and at times even alarming, is not mere knowingness. It is not, in other words, the product of cynicism. To be so perceptive and yet so innocent—that, in a phrase, is the achievement of Proust.

(Thanks to Mike Potemra at The Corner.)