The Prisoner

Penguin Classics. Jan. 2019. 422p. tr. from French by Carol Clark. ISBN 9780143133599. pap. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780525505396. F
OrangeReviewStarFrom perhaps the greatest writer of the 20th century, Proust's masterpiece, A la recherche du temps perdu (sometimes translated literally if unpoetically In Search of Lost Time), was first translated into English in the 1920s and, with only minor exceptions, not translated again until the present time. The publisher has undertaken to update the long-standing work of translators C.K. Scott Moncrieff, Terence Kilmartin, and Andreas Mayor by engaging a different translator for each of the seven volumes that this immense novel comprises (see, e.g., Swann's Way, translated by Christopher Prendergast). Here, Proust focuses on Albertine, one of the narrator's great loves, whom he sequesters in his parents' apartment, separating her from what he imagines to be society's pernicious influences and making her the prisoner of the title. In keeping with the publisher's mission, the late Clark (French, Oxford Univ.) has rendered this fifth volume into English with a contemporary flavor. Though published in the UK in 2002, this new translation was kept from publication here until now by U.S. copyright issues.
VERDICT Though some readers may prefer the flow and sound of the earlier work and find certain changes gratuitous, this work will be of considerable interest to readers who enjoy great literature, whether they wish to compare to previous translations or are discovering Proust for their time.

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