A Marathon Celebration of Proust

Nov 17, 2013

The Yale University French Department celebrated the 100th anniversary of French writer Marcel Proust's À la recherche du temps perdu, or In Search of Lost Time this weekend in a unique way: a marathon reading of the novel's first volume, known in English as Swann's Way.

Starting Saturday Morning at 7:30 pm, and continuing until 3:30 am Sunday, 100 people read aloud from Swann's Way. According to Yale French student John Sununu, the readings were planned as a multilingual event. "We have one student reading in Haitian Creole; we have people reading in Russian; one who signed up in German; one in Italian; Spanish; and supposedly, we have a professor in the French department that will be reading in Chinese," said Sununu. "Proust is a French author at heart, but is very universal."

Sununu said what made this event truly remarkable is that participants were to read Proust on a bed in an exact replica of the cork-lined bedroom where Proust penned his famous work. "It's got this beautiful bed in the center," he said. "[The set designer] has actually put in cork on the walls of the theater. It's going to be filled with chaises and tables." Also adding to the authenticity: organizers planned to offer food mentioned in Proust's novel, including madeleines (small, shell-shaped sponge cakes), asparagus, and baked chicken.

In Search of Lost Time was first published in France 100 years ago this month. The Proust marathon, a free event, took place at the Saybrook Underbrook Theatre, 242 Elm Street in New Haven.