Introduce The Magic Lantern of Marcel Proust
從百花齊放、五顏六色，充滿誘惑的花花世界——諸如：西西圖文並茂的散文、京極夏彥之京極堂系列小說、傑夫‧代爾關於攝影和搖滾樂的論述、納比派的波納爾 (Pierre Bonnard) 和德尼 (Maurice Denis) 的畫傳——回到了幾個月前曾經讀過的幾本研究普魯斯特的專書，其實有種在密室閉關修煉的感覺，重新貼近普魯斯特，調整呼吸，找到閱讀的律動。
不談知識性或專業性，單就閱讀的趣味性這個層面，這些不同類型的書本其實很難等量齊觀，尤其像是 The Magic Lantern of Marcel Proust 這本英文評論，僅僅只有百來頁，卻蘊含著極大的能量，只不過那極可能需要先跨越過關於《追憶似水年華》的閱讀障礙。
The Magic Lantern of Marcel Proust: A Critical Study of Remembrance of Things Past
by Howard Moss(Author), (Foreword)
"[The Magic Lantern of Marcel Proust] reduces the ungainly and intricately designed masterpiece to its shape, and with hardly a wasted word...The paragraphs on habit and memory are truly wonderful—wonderful as explication, as psychology, and as philosophy."—John Updike
"Almost everything Moss says seems to me right, illuminating, and new. This is the book of a mature and individual mind and sensibility, with a deep experience of moral, social, psychological, and aesthetic values which is rare among critics." —George D. Painter
"A moving and inspiring book. Moss clears away dark corners, clarifies motivations, and places the huge work within the reader's perspective. A book of great value to the scholar and the general reader." —Publishers Weekly
Paperback: 124 pages
Publisher: Paul Dry Books (October 2, 2012)
Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5 x 0.5 inches
Howard Moss was poetry editor of the New Yorker for almost forty years. He also wrote more than a dozen books of poetry, plays, criticism, and a book of arch parody-microbiographies of cultural figures, Instant Lives, illustrated by Edward Gorey.
在這本書裡頭，作者 Howard Moss 的用字遣詞並沒有刻意像學術論文那樣艱深難懂，相反地，他卻可以直接把《追憶似水年華》這部作品只用一段話，甚至一句話進行總結，相當大膽卻不讓人感到獨斷或偏頗，試讀以下摘要自第一章開頭的部分：
Remembrance of Things Past is more than a novel; it is a work in which a single person's life is transformed into a mythology, with its own pantheon of gods, its own religious rituals, and its own moral laws.
Other novelists describe or invent worlds. Remembrance of Things Past is an entire universe created and interpreted by Marcel Proust.
It is the story of how a little boy becomes a writer. (言簡意賅，讓人忍不住說：讚！)
在討論《追憶似水年華》的一開始，勢必都要從小說中最鮮明的”斯萬之路”(Swann’s way) 及”蓋爾芒特之路”(Guermantes way) 開始延伸，作者先是用自己的想法將這兩條路 (two ways) 轉換成”愛情之路”與”社會之路”：
These two ways become, in time, two visions of life’s possibilities. One is biological—love. The other is social—society. Each falls under the domination of the differentiated “gods” of Marcel’s boyhood. Swann’s way is the way of love; the Duchesse de Guermantes’ that of society. The crossbreeding between them is richly complicated, but they are perceived by Marcel, as a boy, as two distinct forces of life. And, as such, they become complementary themes in the book.
從而，第三條”藝術之路”(the way of art) 應運而生，並以小說中的三個人物做為代表：
It is the way of art and it is slowly built up in Proust’s re-creation of the work of three characters who represent it: Vinteuil, the composer, Bergotte, the novelist, and Elstir, the painter.
作者綜觀剖析《追憶似水年華》這部作品，不斷進行相當有趣的歸類及論述，隨後引領我們參訪其中的花園、窗景、宴會、鐘樓，不停地在各個場景穿梭、跳躍，就像 Magic Lantern 一般讓人目不暇給。
We have three gardens to begin with: the one attached to Aunt Léonie’s house; the hawthorn and lilac along the Méséglise way; and the water lilies and violets that perfume the Vivonne along the Guermantes way. About each of these gardens, the three “families” cluster: Marcel’s, Swann’s, and the Guermantes’. They are all Combray, and around that magic land, that garden from which a child is expelled—in the same way that Adam was expelled from the garden of Eden, and for much the same reason—a universe begins to expand, as magical in its embodiment as the genie escaping from the bottle.
在最後一個章節〈路〉(the way) 的結語，作者直言普魯斯特是最偉大的醒悟者 (幻滅者)，這個看法如同將《追憶似水年華》定義為「成長小說」(Bildungsroman)，似乎驗證了一句經典的廣告詞 ”幻滅是成長的開始”：
Proust is the greatest of disenchanters. But only because he was so greatly enchanted. Remembrance of Things Past is a gigantic disappearing act in which the magician vanishes along with his magic in the service of illusion. He does so to prove to us that the illusory is real. By the time we reach the end of Remembrance of Things Past, Swann and the Duchesse de Guermantes, upon whom so much time and elucidation have been expended, are revealed at last for what they are. Two human beings in the boyhood of Marcel Proust he once conceived of as gods. Now the true god, the writer, paying homage to the deities of his childhood, secreting their lives from within himself, confers upon them a genuine immortality.
回到 Damion Searls 在本書的〈前言〉(Foreword) 所述：
Howard Moss’s slim and masterful The Magic Lantern of Marcel Proust is in some ways an exception, because it has no special topic at all, no theory to prove or argument to make. It synthesizes or distills the whole of Proust’s massive work, condensing without reducing or simplifying.