Rarely has anyone taken Swann's Way down a stranger path, and never with such intriguing results. What begins as a meditation on the fictional identity of the elegant ""swan"" of Proust's In Search of Lost Time becomes, through a series of turns and twists, an ingenious investigation of the character's real-life counterpart, Charles Haas. Part novel, part essay, part literary sleuthing, Swan's Way is a critical tour de force. Through an inspired reading of Proust's text, Henri Raczymow gradually unravels the multiple contradictions of Charles Swann's personality, brought into focus by the fault lines in Proust's narrative method. The author traces Swann's evolution and the multiple ways in which his Jewish identity keeps peeping through the veneer of respectability of this sophisticated dandy. Through a parallel inquiry into the history of the Jockey Club to which Haas, a Jew, was, like Swann, exceptionally admitted and the transformation of the German-Jewish Haas into the fashionable British Swann, Swan's Way evolves into an examination of the question of personal identity and posthumous survival. Charles Haas's Jewish identity is the invisible thread that guides Raczymow through the maze of Proust's work, which serves as a backdrop against which fin-de-siecle French society enacts the ugly drama of anti-Semitism. Blurring the boundaries between life and fiction, Swan's Way leads the reader ever deeper into the unresolved question of literary and personal character.
HENRI RACZYMOW was born in France in 1948 and lives in Paris. He is the author of a biography of Maurice Sachs and several works of fiction and non-fiction including Wrlting the Book of Esther (Holmes & Meier, 1995), Pauvre Bouilhet (Gallimard, 1998) and Quartier libre (Gallimard, 1995). ROBERT BONONNO is the recent reciplent of a National Endowment for the Arts award for the translation of Isabelle Eberhardt, Seven Years in the Life of a Woman: Letters and Journals. His many translations include Cyberculture (University of Minnesota Press, 2001), Kubrick: The Definitive Edition (Faber and Faber, 2001), French New Wave (DAP, 1999), and Ghost Image (Sun and Moon Press, 1996).