As I've been traveling recently, I decided to make use of some of the dead time that accompanies the process by re-reading the Montcrieff-Kilmartin translation of "Swann's Way", the first volume of Marcel Proust's magnum opus. It's been nearly 2 decades since I first made my way through the work, and yet I am pleased to be able to report finding the experience just as delightful as I did the first time around. It is not just Proust's uncanny insight into the foibles, eccentricities and self-deceptions of humanity that gives pleasure, but also his sheer gift for comedy: contrary to the image many seem to have of "In Search of Lost Time", the books are both easy to read and outright hilarious in many places.
Given Proust's status as "Most Unread Literary Giant" of the 20th century, it is always a pleasant surprise to find that there are others out there who've gone past the intimidation factor to find out for themselves precisely why Proust is as deserving of the acclamation he receives. As it turns out, one such person is Supreme Court justice Stephen Breyer, who gives a cogent explanation of how and why he came to love Proust in this NYRB article. It is good to see that the American Supreme Court has some powerful and perceptive minds on it, rather than being populated entirely by mediocrities with chips on their shoulders.