"...Past, present and future are not checkpoints, but porous membranes where one tense washes into another.
Time is ruthless and deadly, living is all loss, and the paradox of memory is that it gives you back what you had on condition that you know it has been lost. To regain it, you need to know it has gone; to remake the world, you need first to understand that it has ended. HG Wells had published The Time Machine in 1895. Proust showed that we are the Time Machines, though we are rarely at the controls..."
It is in seven volumes, running 4215 pages! I own one volume and haven't read even a page from it.
(The earlier English translation of the book was titled 'Remembrance of Things Past' )
Artist: Edward Frascino, The New Yorker, 1 April 1972
(Here is an example, dated October 18 2007, from this blog, of a cartoonist targeting Leo Tolstoy's 'War and Peace' for its length, 1225 pages.)
Proust is little known to Marathi speaking world, including me. I haven't read him either in French or English. I don't think he is available in Marathi.
And I don't know if I will ever know him too but when I can't read a book I try to read about it.
I liked what Ian Jack had to say in 'The Guardian' in November 2013: "What of all the vanished foods we can never taste again?":
"Marcel Proust's narrator took a little piece of sponge cake and dipped it into a spoonful of tea. "No sooner had the warm liquid mixed with the crumbs touched my palate than a shudder ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me," Proust wrote in Swann's Way, as translated by CK Scott Moncrieff. The extraordinary thing was an involuntary memory. We know how the story goes, though Proust takes his time in telling it. Many sentences follow, and then: "The taste was that of the little piece of madeleine which on Sunday mornings at Combray … my aunt Léonie used to give me, dipping it first in her own cup of tea or tisane." Out of this sensation comes the "vast structure of recollection" that taste and smell alone can provide "when from a long-distant past nothing subsists, after the people are dead, after the things are broken and scattered … "
But what if the tastes and smells of the previous age no longer existed?..."
There are quite a few food items (almost) no longer available to a typical Marathi middle class person.
Shripad Krushna Kolhatkar's (1871-1934 श्रीपाद कृष्ण कोल्हटकर) book 'Sudamyache Pohe' (सुदाम्याचे पोहे) - for me one of the greatest prose in Marathi- was first published in 1910.
It has a wonderfully funny essay : 'Pandutatyanchi Nirjali Ekadashi' (पांडुतात्यांची निर्जळी एकादशी)- 'Pandutatya's water-less fasting day'.
It makes merciless fun of what all some Marathi speaking middle-class (most of them Brahmins) people ate (and still do) on the fasting day in the name of religion.
courtesy: 'सुदाम्याचे निवडलेले पोहे' (abridged 'sudamyache pohe'), Varada Prakashan (वरदा प्रकाशन)
After reading the essay, I realised that quite a few fit-for-fasting delicacies listed there- captured in the quotation above- have never been tasted, or even seen, by me and probably never will be.
The title of the book, at the time of its first publication, was "Arthat Athara Dhanyanche Kadbole" (अर्थात अठरा धान्यांचे कडबोळे). I loosely translate it as "meaning pretzel / cracker made from eighteen grains"....Have I tasted or seen such a snack ever? NO!
[The third edition, published in 1923, and later editions of the book came with the subtitle of 'Arthat Sahitya Battishi' (अर्थात साहित्य बत्तिशी)]
Shripad Krushna Kolhatkar
courtesy: 'Bahurupi' (बहुरूपी), 1957 by Chintaman Ganesh Kolhatkar (चिंतामण गणेश कोल्हटकर)