Additional Book Information
Series: NYRB Classics
Publication Date: November 6, 2018
Lost TimeLectures on Proust in a Soviet Prison Camp
by Józef Czapski, introduction and translated from the French by Eric Karpeles
An NYRB Classics Original
During the Second World War, in the heart of the malevolent Soviet Union, a Polish prisoner of war brought Marcel Proust’s novel À la recherche du temps perdu to life without a single page of text available for reference. Presenting a series of lectures in an attempt to distract his fellow officers from their collective misery, Józef Czapski managed to revive the novel and his experience of reading it purely from memory. It was a clarifying moment for him, a Proustian moment. His talks were given in French, helping to focus the men’s minds and distract their thoughts from their grim surroundings.
Calling upon deep reserves of aesthetic knowledge and critical thinking in a variety of languages, Czapski offered aspects of Proust’s story, like Scheherazade, night after night. His lectures are a testament to the survival of memories of both worlds woven together, the fictional Faubourg Saint-Germain and the actual Soviet prison camp.