Reading Proust V - The Captive

So after an exceptionally long hiatus, I returned to In Search of Lost Time and picked up Volume V, The Captive and the Fugitive. These are actually the titles of two 500-page novels bound together in one volume, but given that I’ve only just finished the former, that’s where I’ll limit my discussion here. Part of the reason for procrastinating this long (I finished Volume IV back in March) was that I’d read somewhere that Volume V was the least finished of the six volumes at the time of Proust’s death in 1922 and did not receive the same kind of assiduous editing and rewriting he was known for and had applied to the other books. As a result, there’s a fair amount of rambling (I’ll get to that in a second) as well as a few gaps and errors. In terms of the latter, there are, for example, a few characters that are said to have died (Cottard and Mme. Villeparisis) yet appear alive and healthy in later sections of the book. The other reason was that I’d read online somewhere (I can’t remember which famous critic had said it) that Volume V was the one book that In Search of Lost Time could do without—not exactly the kinds of things one wants to hear before picking up a 1000-page tome! And now that I’ve read the first half, I’d have to agree that these claims aren’t entirely unjustified.