Britain's first book blogger (November 2000). This Space is now a major motion picture, or something.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Albertine Asleep

For a short time, I stayed up most of the night. In the long summer months between years at school – my guess is 1978 – there was no all-night radio let alone all-night television. Instead I would listen to the BBC World Service on unreliable Medium Wave reception. One night around two in the morning, an actor with a mellifluous voice read an extract from what I now know as Swann's Way. This was before Terence Kilmartin had updated Scott Moncrieff's original translation.

Next day, as I played football in the local park, I told my friends of this book that spent half an hour to describe someone (Swann) ringing a doorbell. Inside, however, my amused tone was tempered. Secretly, I was impressed. The following week there was an extract from another part of the novel, of which I have no memory, and in the third and final week, he read the section known as Albertine Asleep (which Anne Carson has had some fun with recently). And I taped it. The tape still exists.


  1. I delight in the antigraphic pastiche that is your first sentence, and I thank you for posting this clip, which reminds me of my own sweet (if regrettably Proust-free) late-night sessions with the World Service.

  2. Thanks Douglas. It was your own Tumblr post that inspired this. I had to join Soundcloud to post it, but worth the trouble I think. As John Peel said about scratches on vinyl, the interference gives it a spiritual quality.

  3. How wonderful: these words you've managed to preserve through their myriad distortions (language, medium, time, technology): 'like giants plunged into the years, they touch the distant epochs through which they have lived...'



Please email me at steve dot mitchelmore at gmail dot com.

Blog Archive


Contact steve dot mitchelmore at Powered by Blogger.