Author: Marcel Proust, 1923, 1925. Translated from the French by Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin; revised by D J Enright, 1992.
Genre: Modern Classic. Literary. Comedy of Manners. GLBT.
Other Details: 2000 Vintage Proust Edition. Paperback. 814 pages.
In the two novels - The Captive and The Fugitive - contained in this volume, Proust's narrator is living in his mother's apartment in Paris with his lover, Albertine. However, this is far from an idyllic state of affairs. His obsessive love for her means that their relationship is shadowed by jealousy and headed for tragedy. - synopsis from Vintage Books website.
Although sold by Vintage as a single volume as this contained two volumes of Proust's lengthy novel I have counted it as two books for purposes of my annual count.
The Captive opens with the Narrator moving Albertine into his family's Paris apartment. He then seems to spend most of the next 473 pages anguishing further about her possible Sapphic inclinations and betrayal. He has her followed and spied upon and seeks to restrict her movements in a variety of ways. He also questions her incessantly; only feeling content when she is asleep. Like Twilight's Edward he creepily often watches her sleep without her awareness. Albertine finally has enough and moves out. The story continues in The Fugitive, which contains some genuine surprises that I had not anticipated. The Narrator, of course, continues to anguish about Albertine and that is all I can say without major spoilers.
Obviously, there is more in its 800 pages than merely angst about his mistress. Swann's daughter Gilberte comes back into the Narrator's life, there are more tragic/comic episcodes featuring Baron de Charlus and his fraught relationship with Charlie Morel as well as general observations about the lives of the French upper classes, complete with changes of fortune and the kind of back-stabbing still popular today in contemporary dramas such as Revenge.
In many ways the Narrator's obsession renders him the captive of the title. Although at times I grew frustrated with the Narrator's obsession it remained riveting reading; examining the destructive nature of sexual jealousy. As Patrick Alexander writes in Marcel Proust's Search for Lost Time: "This is Proust being Woody Allen at his most neurotically annoying, and there are many times when the reader is temped to throw down the book and say, "Enough already! get over it.". I am glad he wrote that as it seems my experience during reading was quite the norm.
These volumes of the novel were published after Proust's death in 1922 and there is less polish here than in the earlier volumes as he was unable to edit them to the degree he had previous volumes. This did result in some passages, especially dialogue, flowing more freely than in earlier parts and even shorter sentences than his usual style.