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Reading Groups

Advanced Proust: In Search of Lost Time with Lila Azam Zanganeh (Sold Out)

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Third Tuesday of Every Month Tuesdays, 5:00 pm EDT - 6:30 pm EDT September 20, 2022 to August 15, 2023

Online via Zoom

This reading group has reached its capacity. To join the waitlist, please email Erich Slimak at erich@centerforfiction.org.


This reading group is limited to readers who have read the entirety of In Search of Lost Time.

“An open book is time regained,” wrote Bernard de Fallois, a legendary French editor and Proustian who, upon dying in 2018, released a trove of previously unpublished Proust stories and caused an earthquake in the field. Marcel Proust, beginning with Swann’s Way (the first of his seven volumes), points the way to the sensual and mysterious nature of time. Time is evanescent, and yet may, at any moment, loop back around itself. Swann’s Way is the foundation of the cycle of time, and perhaps its secret, golden thread. Both an inquiry and a celebration of the labyrinth of youth and the accidents of desire, Swann’s Way tells us how, against all odds, time is a gift if we know to become its lover. While the first twelve sessions will focus primarily on Swann’s Way, it is anticipated that this reading group will expand for an additional three years, during which the entirety of In Search of Lost Time will be read closely.

Students will actively discuss the first volume over the course of 12 sessions within a single year. Roughly fifty pages will be discussed per live session, paying particular attention to narrative texture, intent, and tenor.

Please note that this advanced class aims to expand into a three to four-year course spanning the whole work sequentially. The class, in its beginnings and entirety, will allow participants to fully experience the essence of the Proustian: from the sensorial, and quietly cataclysmic, experience of the madeleine to the epiphany of the loose paving stone and the great, final ball of the Guermantes. We will also delve into each extraordinary character (biographical or not): the narrator himself, Swann, Odette, Saint-Loup, Madame Verdurin, and many others whose affect and vision deeply influenced our perception of modern sensibility. We will examine the acumen with which Proust describes the fracturing of the French social structure in response to the Dreyfus Affair, as well as his groundbreaking exploration of the versatile, at times perverse, nature of love.

Students are encouraged to use Moncrieff’s translation for ease and consistency within the group.

Marcel Proust

Led by

  • Lila Azam Zanganeh

    Lila Azam Zanganeh

    Lila Azam Zanganeh

    Lila Azam Zanganeh was born in Paris to Iranian parents. After studying literature and philosophy at the Ecole Normale Supérieure, she moved to the United States to teach literature and cinema at Harvard University. She has contributed criticism, interviews and essays to a host of publications including the New York Times, the New Yorker, Le Monde, La Repubblica, and the Paris Review. Her first book, The Enchanter: Nabokov and Happiness, was the recipient of the 2011 Roger Shattuck Prize and was published worldwide in thirteen languages. Lila serves as a Director on the Board of Trustees for the Vladimir Nabokov Literary Foundation and as a member of the Advisory Board of Libraries Without Border. She has also served as a judge for the Man Booker Prize and the PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature. Her forthcoming novel, Exit Paradise, will be published in 2023.