Swann’s Way is the first volume of Marcel Proust’s novel In Search of Lost Time, which has seven volumes within it. The entire work was first published in French between 1913 and 1927; it was translated into English and published between 1922 and 1931.
Marcel Proust is a French author who grew up during the belle epoque of France, the rebuilding and addition of grandeur in France after an embarrassing defeat to the Prussians in 1871. He finished writing Swann’s Way in 1913, just before the start of World War One; the war slowed down his publications, and he wrote all eight volumes of his novel In Search of Lost Time but didn’t finish revising the last three. However, it is clear that as World War One goes on, Proust feels immense nostalgia for the past.
In Swann’s Way, the narrator is caught by many flashbacks and memories that are triggered by something linked to his past. For example, the narrator thinks about sleeping, then remembers how he didn’t get his mother’s nightly kiss because his parents were entertaining Charles Swann. Swann is a wealthy Jewish man who is important to the narrator’s society. In addition, madeleine cakes and tea revive memories of his childhood in Combray, his hometown.