Oxford University Press, £18.99 hb, 143 pp
In 1981, Terence Kilmartin’s revision of C.K. Scott Moncrieff’s 1920s English translation of Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu was published. Against Kilmartin’s wishes, the new edition retained the unfortunate title of Remembrance of Things Past, but in all other respects the Kilmartin version significantly corrected and enhanced the Moncrieff translation.1 This became my Proust, and I have remained loyal to it.
Every reader of Proust acquires their own Proust – not surprisingly, for À la recherche is about everything. As for the possessive relationship, given that reading is among the most intimate of human activities, after three thousand pages one cannot emerge unconnected from this great book. It is a book that can actually save lives. As a young man, the brilliant theoretical physicist Robert Oppenheimer was going through a very dark patch. It was Proust’s great novel that pulled him out of the mire.