Thoughts for Thursday - Jack and Marcel

Okay, if you're a regular reader, you know I've been enmeshed -- er, enrossed -- in Proust. As many pages as I can stand, each evening.

In my previous Proust post, I pondered on how his prose struck me like a heavy drug trip: you know you've had a profound experience, but you are not sure you could describe it.

Litlove commented that she had to write about Proust as a critic. I was suitably impressed.

It got me to pondering more about what makes Proust Proust.

Somehow, that got me thinking about Kerouac, another writer I've been reading and whose work I admire. Then I got to pondering (I ponder quite a bit in my downtime): Why am I associating these two writers in my mind?

I think I may have hit upon a link--I'd like to hear your thoughts. The prose of Jack and Marcel cannot be discussed in terms of conventional literary devices (plot, character, dialogue) if you have a hope of conveying their writing. You can discuss theme, but I think with both writers you would have to broaden the discussion.

They are working on a different plane than many other fiction writers: Employing Language to convey Big Ideas. Kerouac also employs Style/Voice (which I cannot precisely account for in Proust).

Is this simplistic or just plain wrongheaded? Am I figuring something out that about a hundred critics have already figured out 20 years ago? What do you think about the Jack and Marcel connection -- and which other authors work on the same plane?

A note about your comments: I love comments. I feel as if I am having a discussion or actually connecting with a person. Maybe that's a technical glitch, a mechanical illusion. But I don't care. Bring on the comments! Please know that I cherish each and every one of them. Even when I don't quite understand them.


bhadd said...

Employ: that verb strongly means work right? I agree I think!

The Hood Company

teabird said...

I've read Kerouac, and I've only dabbled in Proust (alas - someday..) - but the link may be scope. Both use their own very idiosyncratic views and very specific details to create a landscape that simultaneously seems very subjective and objective. Each writer creates a paradox, I think.

Amanda Roper said...

That is how I felt after reading Virginia Woolf's The Waves. The only person who could understand the power of the book was my friend who had also read it.

A prime example of Employing Language to convey Big Ideas!

Rebecca H. said...

Now that's an interesting connection. I love connections like that that are completely unexpected and yet make sense ... I don't know Kerouac well enough to consider the comparison very clearly; I did read On the Road, but it was a while ago. But from what I remember, it makes sense -- you just don't turn to those two writers for the same things you turn to other writers for. You turn to them for ... the big ideas, yes, but also for the experience of it. Immersing yourself in Proust is like entering another world, as your earlier post pointed out.

Amanda Roper said...

I've tagged you for the 8 things meme! Play if you like.

Bobby D. said...

it is weird that you would mention this--because of a lot of coincidences that kept bringing JK's works back into my life and reading the Book "A Year of Reading Proust" I have been calling THIS year, my year of Kerouac. So far I've read 4 novels, and loads of poems, etc... The Moody StreetIrregular stuff, etc...

I think you are on to something!!

Anonymous said...

Oh if only I had read any Kerouac - I know! Terrible omission! But I think your comment works really well with Proust. He's known as the first truly experimental writer of the twentieth century because he draws attention to how a book is produced whilst the reader is reading it. The narrative thinks about its own construction as it goes along, and so the usual devices of plot, etc, are picked apart. Now, I just need to get a copy of On The Road....!

Grapeshot/Odette said...

Hmmm. Proust and Kerouac. Would never have put them together. Both had excellent descriptive powers, sensitive to landscapes. Both can write on and on and on about a topic, ad infinitum. I did not say ad nauseum. Differences? In On the Road, Kerouac writes a beautiful description of New Orleans, etc., and then remarks that Mary Ann (Lou?) "had to go to the john." Kind of wrecks the poetry, but of course life is like that. Can't see Proust deliberately sabotaging his most beautiful prose. Hmmmm.

Anonymous said...

I first picked up Proust when I was 20, and put it down again, saying, "This is something I should read when I'm older."

I next picked up Proust when I was 25. Same thing.

And now that I'm 33, I picked up Proust once again. And although I've finally accustomed myself to the fact that grocery clerks now call me "Ma'am," I still can't help but feel I need another 20 years.