[review] In Search of Lost Time: Swann’s Way: A Graphic Novel by Stéphane Heuet

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“In Search of Lost Time,” one of the masterpieces of French literature, is composed of seven volumes. The length of the novel can discourage some, including myself. I was delighted to discover that a magnificent graphic novel has been published.

For now, only two out of the seven volumes have been adapted into graphic novels.

“In Search of Lost Time – Swann’s Way” is the graphic adaptation of the first volume.

The pleasure of reading, teatime, the drama of going to bed… By evoking countless small moments that are by turns delightful, humiliating, erotic, and disappointing, Proust invites us to participate in his reflections in this first volume of the Search, where childhood memories (“Combray”) and the first moments of adolescence (“Names of Places”) frame the story of the loves of a wealthy collector and a demimondaine (“Swann’s Way”). In the manner of Scheherazade in “One Thousand and One Nights,” the novelist unveils a marvelous and complex story that takes us from the enchanting gardens of a French village to the dark alleys of Paris, through the lights of the Opera and aristocratic salons. We follow his narrator-hero who seeks to quench his thirst for wonderment and participate in his ever-renewed quest for the meaning of life.

(Source: Flammarion, GF)

The graphic novel adaptation respects the original work as the original text has been faithfully condensed, preserving its essence. The artwork is stunning, and the carefully chosen colors enhance the experience.

The illustrator, Stéphane Heuet, is a sailor who is passionate about Proust’s work. It took him over 25 years to meticulously craft each panel of the 8 volumes released so far. His plan is to adapt the entire novel. As of 2023, only the first two volumes have been adapted. On average, it takes him 3 years to complete one volume.

One of the parts of Marcel Proust’s “In Search of Lost Time” rests on top of Stéphane Heuet’s initial drawings of his graphic novel adaptation of the material

Despite the drawings being created over a span of 25 years, an untrained eye would notice little difference as the style remains unchanged. The lines become increasingly precise throughout the volumes, but there are no notable or jarring differences.

As French is not my native language, I found some of the texts challenging to understand without the illustrations. The graphic novel version not only allowed me to comprehend the text better but also to appreciate the novel’s finest passages. Proust’s long and beloved sentences have been shortened to facilitate comprehension while fitting within the panels of the graphic novel.

There is such sensitivity in the text, in the analysis of Mr. Swann’s torments, that conveying these emotions through illustrations could have seemed impossible without the immense talent of Stéphane Heuet. Readers are immersed, during the reading, in this bygone France. One may dream of Combray, of its church, of the “Guermantes Way.” Everything seems so real that readers all want to travel and truly follow Proust to these imaginary places. Two pages are dedicated to “Proust’s madeleine.”

A comic book to be read in silence, accompanied by tea and a madeleine. I read it in one afternoon.

The complete version only costs 16$ in the US (3 times cheaper than in France) (Amazon US link, Amazon FR link, Fnac FR link)

This post is also available in: Français

Anh est toujours très occupée à profiter de jolies choses, et à fabriquer de petites bricoles de ses propres mains. **** Hi, my name is Anh. I am a Vietnamese-French DIY passionate, beauty lover and cosmetic tester.

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