New Audiobook: Swann’s Way, by Marcel Proust, in English

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As regular readers of Kirkville probably know, I’m a fan of Marcel Proust. I recently started re-reading A la recherche du temps perdu, but was sidetracked by moving house. Some time ago, I listened to the entire work, on a French audio recording. But not all Proustians are French speakers. Proust actually has quite a following in the US and England, and his popularity is such that Naxos Audiobooks has recently released the first part of a complete, unabridged recording of Remembrance of Things Past (also know as In Search of Lost Time).

The narrator, Neville Jason, has one of those smooth, soft English accents that lulls and entrances you. His reading is leisurely and relaxed. He takes his time, allowing you to absorb the work comfortably, without speaking too slowly, as is sometimes the case on older audiobook readings. Jason’s reading is a performance, but it also sounds like he’s sitting by your side, reading from the book, like a friend. In addition, his French accent is quite good, and when he speaks the names of French people or towns, it sounds as it should.

Swann’s Way is more than 21 hours long, and is only the first of seven volumes of Remembrance of Things Past. Naxos will be releasing each volume individually, and will most likely offer a box set with the entire text – which will be more than 120 hours – when all the titles have been released.

If you want to listen to Proust, and don’t speak French, Neville Jason’s recordings are excellent. For now, this is the only complete recording in the works. Simon Vance, who is also another wonderful narrator, has recorded Swann’s Way, but it doesn’t look like this will be a complete recording of all seven volumes of Remembrance of Things Past, as this recording was released in September, 2010, and no follow-up has yet been released.

Buy Swann’s Way on or Amazon UK.

Here’s a sample of Neville Jason reading the famous “madeleine” scene:

5 replies
  1. Nick says:

    The Amazon page really needs a small sample of the audio. How do I know I will like his speaking/reading voice, or if his pacing is suited to me, all those tiny variables. I’ve never been able to stand an audiobook as they seem to go so slowly for me. Perhaps one of his readings could convince me to try again?

    • kirk says:

      Yes, that’s a good point.

      I added a YouTube video of Neville Jason reading above. (Well, technically it’s a video, but it’s just his voice over a still picture.)

  2. Nick says:

    Thank you! I was not trying to criticise you but merely Amazon, of course! I have also found on Naxos, some samples. I am listening to Mr. Jason reading the start of The Captive.
    It is certainly a different kind of concentration that’s needed to merely listen to a speaking voice.

    • kirk says:

      If you’re not used to audiobooks, yes. I listen to audiobooks fairly often, and I’m used to the different style of listening. With a good narrator, an audiobook can be very absorbing. I listened to all of ISoLT in French, over a period of several months, and it gave me new insights into the text.

  3. Andrew Coleman says:

    There is another unabridged recording in the works. Denny Sayers and I are recording it for as a free MP3 download. I am currently recording “Within a Budding Grove” solo, again as a free download, but this time for Neville Jason is a superb reader, though.


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