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Description - The Year of Reading Proust by Phyllis Rose

A brilliant and original memoir of midlifea writing life, a reading life, a womans lifeby the distinguished author of Parallel Lives. Phyllis Rose, a biographer, essayist, and literary critic, finally got around to reading Proust in middle age. As Rose learned, you dont have to live through an unhappy childhood or celebrity adulthood to write an autobiography. You just need patience, candor, and a close-to-scientific passion for truth. She begins to learn how to navigate the intricacies of Prousts novels, at the same time reflecting on the course of her own life.With striking honesty, Rose writes about marriage, friendship, childbirth, and her own mortality. As she moves from daily experience to what shes read and back again, she illuminates how the close reading of her own life reveals truths for the rest of us and how such a subtle celebration of books can help us live.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9781582430553
ISBN-10: 1582430551
Format: Paperback
(200mm x 139mm x 18mm)
Pages: 272
Imprint: Counterpoint
Publisher: Counterpoint
Publish Date: 23-Dec-1999
Country of Publication: United States

Other Editions - The Year of Reading Proust by Phyllis Rose

Book Reviews - The Year of Reading Proust by Phyllis Rose

US Kirkus Review » Proust is less the subject of Rose's pleasurable, rambling memoir than its guiding spirit, whose wisdom and worldview Rose invokes as she reviews the travails and satisfactions of a year in her life. A row with her Key West landlady involving potted palms and banana treees; hectic preparations for a dinner honoring a mystery guest (who turns out to be Salman Rushdie); her friend Annie Dillard's cancer scare; and her own mother's halting progress toward death - these and other events take biographer Rose (Jazz Cleopatra: Josephine Baker in Her Time, 1989, etc.) into a Proustian blend of social gossip (mostly of literary Key West) and a remembrance of things in her own past. The passing of time, the attempt to transcend it (in collecting antiquities), the need to create something original before it is too late, and the immense difficulty of doing so, are among the novelist's themes that resonate for Rose. Most affecting is her newfound appreciation of the middle-class suburban 1950s childhood she had long reviled: "I never 'understood' my childhood because I never understood what a happy childhood it was." This encounter with her past culminates in a visit with her sister to their childhood home for the first time in 36 years. Unlike the fictional Marcel, who returns to Paris after a long absence and finds it much changed, Rose finds the house miraculously preserved, like a museum of her childhood, thus bringing no epiphany but merely the satisfaction of memories confirmed. Still, while there is much to savor here, there are disappointments, an occasional sense of incompleteness; we learn more, for instance, about the social hubbub over her dinner for Rushdie than we do about the writer himself. Perhaps the best part of the book is its opening chapter, in which Rose, having overcome her own inability to penetrate Proust, explains richly how one can do so, and why it is worthwhile. (Kirkus Reviews)


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