Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Virginia Woolf - Marcel Proust Connection

As well as being interested in the works of VW I am also a keen reader of Proust and Balzac. Proust is attractive because of his attention to detail and the force of his writing. What I had failed to appreciate until now was the Proust connection to Woolf.

As a New Zealander I was well aware of the Woolf-Mansfield connection and Woolf's comments that Katherine Mansfield was the person whose writing she most admired and would strive to better.

The Proust-Woolf connection was made through reading the book, How Proust Can Change Your Life by philosopher Alain de Botton (highly recommended).

Several quotes to show this:

"Reading Proust nearly silenced Virginia Woolf. She loved his novel, but loved it rather too much. There wasn't enough wrong with it, a crushing recognition when one follows Walter Benjamin in his assessment of why people become writers: because they are unable to find a book already written which they are completely happy with. And the difficulty for Virginia was that, for a time at least, she thought she had found one".
and

in a letter to Roger Fry she says,

"My great adventure is really Proust. Well what remains to be written after that? ... How, at last, has someone solidified what has always escaped - and made ittoo into this beautiful and perfectly enduring substance? One has to put the book down and gasp."

There is another page or so of other text on this, but thought I would give you all a taster.

Maybe this explins why I enjoy both writers, and have in fact just purchased the 6 volumes of Proust's novel to read as my 2011 (now 2013) project.

Had anyone else made this connection? Are there any other Proust fans out there?