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Swann's Way by Marcel Proust

Swann's Way introduces the novel's major themes and the narrator, a sensitive man drawn in his youth to fashionable society. Its focus then shifts to Charles Swann, a wealthy connoisseur who moves in high-society circles in nineteenth-century Paris and a victim of an agonizing romance. This masterly evocation of French society and its rendering of a search for a transcendental reality independent of time, ranks as a landmark of world literature.

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