Ok, here goes my attempt to explain Planetary Alignment.
The following book review by MorkTheFiddle was brilliant and greatly appreciated:
MorkTheFiddle » Sat Apr 24, 2021 7:22 am Carmondy asked for my review of A la recherche du temps perdu. Here it is
A la Recherche is a museum of Marcel Proust's life and thoughts, and Marcel is your docent. Part of the museum houses fiction based on Proust's life, part of it keeps his essays on the times, including about art and World War 1, and part of it is mostly idle talk. The docent is a bright, observant and seemingly well educated man. The fiction creates some lively characters. Swann and Odette and Françoise come immediately to mind. The mother of Marcel plays an important part in his life, though not so much in A la Recherche. The father plays a very minimal role, and some have made a great todo about that, but if memory serves, Marcel's brother plays no role at all and as far as I know there was never a rift between the two of them.
Here I have to admit that (a) I have not visited the whole museum. I have missed Sodom and Gomorrah and (b) some of what I did read and listen to occurred several years ago. The museum charges no admission and is never closed, so I could back as often and for as long as I liked.
While visiting the museum I often asked myself, "Why am I here? Have I not seen the most interesting parts?" But the last part, Le Temps retrouvé, holds some surprises. Characters you thought you were done with show up again. It's like running into an old friend you haven't seen in years at the mall.
Some of the people will stay forever in my mind. Marcel, Françoise, Swann, Odette, Baron Charlus. Others have already slipped away. Robert St Loup is on the way out, too.
If French Culture intrigues you, you should visit the museum. Don't be intimidated by the reputation of the novel as being difficult. It is not. For me at any rate, Celine's Voyage au bout de la nuit is more difficult, because of vocabulary. Again for me, the latter lacks the swinging rhythms that make A la Recherche easy and even a pleasure if you listen to it.
If French Culture does not intrigue you, then maybe read the first volume only. I think I read that's the part French students get assigned. Read that, then read more if you like. Otherwise, have a cognac, or maybe a madeleine, to celebrate and move on.
For years I have been incredibly reluctant to undertake Marcel Proust but this book review above definitely persuaded me to undertake the journey. So, hats off and thanks to MorkTheFiddle.
Now finding the edition to read was another mountain to climb. I don't read books on Kindle or anything else. I need a book I can underline and write in. I also always buy used. However, I have discovered that buying Cheap has its costs. I mean I have bought some classics that were horrible to read because of the way they were published. Really. And given what this book is I wanted a reliable edition. So I contacted Albertine https://shop.albertine.com/panier.php
and had very extensive emails (15 in all)about which edition and why. I finally settled on:
all seven volumes in the Gallimard La Nouvelle Revue Française edition would cost a total of $211.79 ($31.92 (I) ; $32.49 (II) ; $34.04 (III) ; $32.49 (IV) ; $27.66 (V) ; $23.40 (VI) ; $29.79 (VII)).
I will be buying the first volume and see how I do. After that I will over the years hopefully get a volume for birthday, or Christmas, or whatever.
The point is that all my life I have been paying car repair bills, yearly charity donations, landscaping bills, oil bills, etc. and for once in my life to break out of the mold and really gift myself something. So since I don't do any drinking, smoking, gambling, etc. I wanted to see if I could be good to myself at least with Volume 1. So, there. It has been ordered and should arrive in 3 weeks time. This has been a real stretch for me but I have no regrets.
In the meantime I can finish up my reading of Suite Francaise
by Irene Nemirovsky and post that review.
Ok, so now you know everything you needed to know about Planetary Alignment.......and you didn't even have to go to Mars.