Marcel Proust and John Ruskin, On Reading
Hesperus; selected and translated from French
Marcel Proust's breathtaking essay "On Reading" was originally his preface to his translation into French
of John Ruskin's book about reading, Sesame and Lilies. It also the first example of Proust's mature
fictional style, with marvelous scenes of vacation reading in his childhood home. Finally, he added hundreds
of footnotes to Ruskin's text, often arguing against Ruskin or providing his own little mini-essays on Proustian
topics such as lung doctors and Maeterlinck.
This first English publication of Proust's essay together with large portions of Sesame and Lilies
and Proust's footnotes is at once a rediscovery of Ruskin's great and beautiful work, some of Proust's
best writing outside Remembrance of Things Past, and a unique artifact of the creative art of translation.
"The excellent idea of this volume is to bring together [the two:] Proust's glorious and much anthologised essay on
reading [and] Ruskin's own ideas [which] can sound surprisingly modern."