i faked reading this book

April 20, 2009

In my Shelf Awareness feature, I admitted to this:

Book you’ve faked reading: Du Coté de Chez Swann by Marcel Proust. In French. I was trying to impress a professor who I later learned was gay. Quel dommage!


image from Wikipedia Commons
image from Wikipedia Commons

I wish I could be more patient with this book, because the bits and pieces I’ve read are truly beautiful. All four of them. 🙂 Yet the book was so good that one of the several publishers that rejected it later wrote him an apology. However, the image above stole my heart–it’s a galley proof from a manuscript that sold at Christies for £663 750. But that’s not what stole my heart–it’s his cutting-and-pasting technique. Masterful. But how did the poor man write a whole work of literary genius without Post-It Notes? No wonder he died young.


I'm a messy writer, too, Marcel!
I'm a messy writer, too, Marcel!



And p.s., Proust is wise:

Every reader finds himself. The writer’s work is merely a kind of optical instrument that makes it possible for the reader to discern what, without this book, he would perhaps never have seen in himself.”

Your turn–have you fake-read any good books lately?

  • Good morning, Susan dear. I don’t recall fake-reading any books, but there are a few I thought were so bad that I skipped the middle and read the end, hoping to find a redeeming shred. Never happened.

    Thank you for the bit about Jane Austen. It gives unpublished writers great hope, doesn’ it? Just think of all the famous writers who have been rejected innumerable times, before making the Big Time.

  • Cliff Notes — doing our reading so we don’t have to!

    Here’s something from today’s Shelf Awareness, ties in with Marcel’s rejection story:

    “Quotation of the Day”
    Rejected: ‘One of the Greatest Mistakes in Publishing History’
    “In 1797, Thomas Cadell made one of the greatest mistakes in publishing history. A Hampshire clergyman had written to him, offering a three-volume novel for publication by a first-time author. Without a word of encouragement, Cadell declined the book, manuscript unseen, by return of post. Unfortunately for Cadell, the clergyman was the Revd George Austen, soliciting publication on his daughter Jane’s behalf, and the novel in question was an early version of Pride and Prejudice, recently voted the one book that the British nation can’t do without.”–From Mark Bostridge’s review of Jane’s Fame: How Jane Austen Conquered the World by Claire Herman in the Literary Review.

  • Not lately… but some how I made it through Huck Finn in high school without reading it. I couldn’t read it. I couldn’t read the Cliff Notes either!

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