Štrkovec, Slovakia, March 1934: another gift, in the house of Baron Philipp Schey v. Koromla, aka Pips:
“I’m on the last volume,” Baron Pips said, lifting up a French paper-bound book. It was Le Temps Retrouvé and an ivory paper-knife marked the place three quarters of the way through. “I started the first volume in October and I’ve been reading it all winter.” He put it back on the table by his chair. “I feel so involved in them all, I don’t know what I’ll do when I’ve finished. Have you ever tried it?”Patrick Leigh Fermor, A Time of Gifts: On Foot to Constantinople: From the Hook of Holland to the Middle Danube (1977).
As one can guess from the tone of my diary, I had only just heard of Proust, but always mentioned in terms of such respect that I was flattered by his question. I took the first volume to bed that night; but it was too dense a wood. When I tried again in Rumania next year, the wood lightened and turned into a forest whose spell has been growing ever since: so, in spite of this hesitant start, Baron Pips was my true initiator.
What’s a reader to do after finishing Proust? In 2006, I wrote a post about finishing for the first time.
Other Leigh Fermor posts
“Footpads and knaves” : From A Time of Gifts : Leigh Fermor’s Brueghel : Leigh Fermor’s eye : “Like rear lamps fading through a fog” : Mich wundert, das ich so frelich bin : One word from A Time of Gifts
[Štrkovec: or in Hungarian, Kövecses.]