Today, I finished reading Proust's Remembrance of Things Past for the first time. Hopefully, it is not the last time. I tend to re-read books I have loved and, decidedly, I can say with full confidence and conviction that if there has ever been a book I truly loved, this is the one.
As I read the last pages today, I began to feel a mourning. Much as I do at the end of any novel I've enjoyed the process of reading, I feel a very real loss at finishing this book. The narrator has become, in some ways, a part of my own internal monologue and, in reflecting upon my own life through the lens of his observations and insights, a part of myself. Thus, in saying goodbye to him, at once a part of myself is departing, while a new part arrives. From today forward, there is an element within me forever altered by the words I have read, a new part of myself or, more Proustian to say: a new "I" has been born upon the death of this former version.
It would be challenging, or rather, impossible to quantify what I have discovered, what I have seen, as a result of reading this book. The process and the destination, in this case, being equally vital to the weight of the experience, I will instead share a quote from the last few pages of the final book, rather than attempt to make any effort at a serious explanation of the effects of this novel in a large scale way in regards to myself and my life.
I may post again when I can make some kind of concise statement, some kind of understandable offering about the multitude of layers of color and shades of meaning present in these 3,000-odd pages. Until then; it's been real.
"...it would be my book, but with its help I would furnish them with the means of reading what lay inside themselves." (Proust, 1089)