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REMEMBRANCE OF THINGS PAST VOL.4: SWANN IN LOVE PT.1
Adapted from Marcel Proust by Stephane Heuet

Adaptations of great literature are a tricky thing. In many cases, the stories must be so watered down to their basics that they lose their flavor and zest, the things that made them classics to begin with. On the flip side, being slavish to the source material can lead to very poor comics, ones that read as disjointed and without narrative flow. Heuet’s adaptation of Proust is certainly avoiding problem one; this is the fourth volume in this series, with at least a fifth to come. But the secondary problem is definitely one that creeps up in this piece of the Proust puzzle.

The story begun in this section is a simple one: the gentleman Swann is a frequent guest of 19th century high society. On one such occasion, he meets Odette de Crecy, a young woman he finds to be a bit superficial, but attractive, and she takes a liking to him, and he to her. However, feeling no room for love, he does not engage in full pursuit. In today’s modern terms, Swann is a “player”; he bounces across the city and countryside fucking his way through anything with a pulse and a huge rack, heedless of their social status. Heuet gets this across gently, but I still thought it would have been funny if he had drawn Swann wearing a purple suit and velvet-feathered hat. But eventually he must deal with Odette when she doesn’t wait for him to arrive for her one night and he accepts that he must make his obsession with her a reality or lose her. The question then becomes: who has the power, and will Swann’s full pursuit drive her away?

No question, the meat of the story is all here, and it looks amazing. But it reads… at times, it reads painfully. Heuet is completely devoted to the story, and the amount of text used to propel the book along is staggering. It takes the concept of “graphic novel” to an extreme extent. When he steps back and allows the panel storytelling and dialogue to do the work, the book is nearly great. But when he doesn’t… it’s a slog. A mild recommendation from me then- only for the literate and patient.

Marc Mason


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