I hardly have to comment on the merits of Marcel Proust´s "In Search of Lost Time" (or "Remembrance of Things Past" depending on the translation; Sw. "På spaning efter den tid som flytt") - countless books have been written on the subject, hundreds of academics have made a career of analysing the 3000 or so pages of this mega-novel. I´m not sure I know anyone who has read it in its entirety, most people are probably happy to get through the first part, "Swann´s Way". Personally, I got to about page 158. That´s when I realized I had effectively stopped, that I was seriously procrastinating my reading - a very strange experience for me.
Yes, I had developed a strong sense of unease about the whole thing, almost a kind of claustrophobia that made me either just shut down (and go to sleep) or want to open the window and howl.
I reached for support in the form of Olof Lagercrantz, my old favourite literary critic, who has written a whole book about his reading of Proust ("Att läsa Proust", 1992). It was a joy to read, as everything by him: he clearly and concisely laid out the main points of the novel - as he saw it, of course, his interpretation is his own. I realized this: to "get" Proust, I need to read all of it. I must also read a few biographies about him. This will probably take a decade of my life, if not more considering the pace I am keeping. Lagercrantz himself didn´t get to it until he was old and retired. Also, now having read Lagercrantz and knowing a bit more about the story, I am even less inclined to pursue the reading. The language is lovely, but pretty sentences is not enough for me.
Well, I have a very active imagination. I like to "nest" within a story as I read it. To be frank, I found this beautiful, skilful, impressive, and very, very dull. I am not qualified to comment on anything beyond my own experience and there you have it. For a few days, I tried to convince myself that I might "save" it for my old age, but honestly, I will never go near it again. I will always have something better to do than reading Proust, even if it is just looking out the window, like his Aunt Leonie.