A Proust Reading List

I thought it would be helpful to share the list of books related to Proust that I have compiled as I have done previously with Kafka and Dante.  This is a very short list so please leave me additional suggestions in the comments.  The translation I used to read Proust was the Moncrieff et al. version published by The Modern Library which I would highly recommend.

By Way of Sainte-Beuve by Marcel Proust.  This collection of essays is a good introduction to Proust’s style of writing for those who don’t want to dive right into his novel.

The Collected Poems by Marcel Proust. Translated by a wide variety of talented translators.  A wonderful dual language edition by Penguin of Proust’s poetry.  I find that a lot of people don’t realize he wrote poetry.

On Reading by Marcel Proust.   Another great way to get a taste of Proust through his ideas on reading.  It is also a dual language edition I found published by Macmillan in 1971.

Letters of Marcel Proust.  Translated and edited with notes by Mina Curtiss.

Monsieur Proust by Celest Albaret.  Translated by Barbara Bray. Albaret was Proust’s housekeeper in his final years while he was writing his magnum opus.  This book also has a lot of nice photos of Proust.

Marcel Proust: A Biography. Volumes I and II by George D. Painter.  There are two other biographies of Proust by Tadie and Carter that were recommended to me  but I chose the Painter.

Paintings in Proust by Eric Karpeles.  This was a perfect companion to reading Proust for those who like a visual of all the paintings that Proust discusses.  It also saves a lot of time from having to look each one up individually.  The photos in the book are beautiful.

Monsieur Proust’s Library by Anka Muhlstein.  An interesting little book that discusses books and reading in Proust.

The Albertine Workout by Ann Carson.  I happened to buy this at The Strand a few years ago because I was interested in Ann Carson.  This is not any kind of truly revealing “workout” of who Albertine was but if you like Carson’s writing then it’s a quick, interesting read.

Lost Time: Lectures on Proust in a Soviet Prison Camp by Jozef Czapski.  Translated by Eric Karpeles.  An inspiring little book that uses Proust to show prisoners that there is hope.

“Proust and I” by Gabriel Josipovici. An essay included in his collection The Teller & The Tale.

“The Image of Proust” by Walter Benjamin.  An essay included in his collection Illuminations translated by Harry Zohn and edited with an introduction by Hannah Arendt.

“The Experience of Proust” by Maurice Blanchot.  This essay, which discusses Proust’s unfinished novel Jean Santeuil, is included in his collection The Book to Come translated by Charlotte Mandell.

And, of course, there is the famous essay on Proust by Samuel Beckett which I have yet to find a copy.  Finally, since Proust was so fond of Balzac and his work is constantly mentioned in In Search of Lost Time, I acquired a complete set of Balzac’s novels.


Thanks to Steve at This Space for sharing these great recommendations with me-

Narrative Discourse: An Essay in Method by Gerard Genette.  Translated by Jane E. Lewin.

Proust & Signs: The Complete Text by Gilles Deleuze.

And Eric (@spaceisagrail) who is also reading Proust recommended Roger Shattuck who has a couple of books that are field guides through Proust.

There is an obscure short story that I mentioned in  my last Proust post translated by Burton Pike.  It is wonderful and gives the reader a taste of Proust’s fiction before one decides to dive into the big one:

“The Indifferent One” by Marcel Proust.  Translated by Burton Pike for Conjunctions No. 31.

Thanks to Derek Kalback (@dkalback) for this addition:

Proust Among the Stars by Malcolm Bowie.

Thanks to the amazing flowerville for sharing this essay by Jean Amery and translated by @shirtysleeves and an additional book:


The Quest for Proust by Andre Maurois.








Filed under French Literature, In Search of Lost Time, Proust

21 responses to “A Proust Reading List

  1. I wasn’t expecting to find anything familiar here but it turns out that I have a copy of Monsieur Proust by Celest Albaret (recommended to me by my French mentor Emma from Book Around the Corner) and I also have Lost Time: Lectures on Proust in a Soviet Prison Camp by Jozef Czapski (recommended to me by Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings. (c’est intéressant, je pense voir comment mes étagères sont influencées par les litbloggers que je connais!)
    I have read all of La Comédie humaine, some of which I have contributed to our collaborative blog about all things Balzac, see https://balzacbooks.wordpress.com/category/contributor/lisa-hill/ – j’aime beaucoup Balzac!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. There is also a slim book “Letters to His Neighbor” by Proust (translated by Lydia Davis) which is charming but short & I have seen a lecture by Anne Carson on YouTube which is worthwhile, about the desert of reading once you’ve read Proust.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. You might like Edmund Wilson’s essay on Proust, the one in Axel’s Castle. It is, first, I think quite good on its merits, but is also interesting as a first pass at Proust by an American. Wilson read Proust in French, so he was ahead of the English translations, writing in 1928 when few American readers would have had much sense about what Proust was doing.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Jonathan

    I found Beckett’s book rather disappointing. I enjoyed the Carter biography but would like to read another. I read Jean Santeuil which I found fascinating to read. Well worth reading but maybe not too soon after ISOLT.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I have never read Proust (!), but still very much enjoyed How Proust Can Change Your Life by Alain de Botton, which is a somewhat tongue-in-cheek but still fond guide to various themes in his work, like illness and relationships.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Nooooooooooo! The temptation!!!!!! I have read the Czapski, and it’s amazing! The Beckett seems to be available, in this country at least, from a number of online sources so hopefully you’ll track it down. As for the Balzac – looks immense and wonderful – enjoy!! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  7. P.S. I may have had to send away for one of them….. D

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Another to consider is Duncan Large’s Nietzsche and Proust: A Comparative Study. Proust’s friend, Daniel Halévy, wrote one of the early biographies (in 1909) on Nietzsche.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Helmut Döring

    The final volume of the Modern Library ROTP is botched. The Chatto & Windus Time Regained (final volume – translated by Stephen Hudson (Sidney Schiff) #12 in C&W) is stylistically consistent with CKSM’s translation of the other volumes, and vastly superior to the ML by Blossom.

    Liked by 1 person

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