Michael Harding: Conversations with friends in search of lost time

If only I were at ease inside the narratives I weave around my sense of self – but I’m not

‘The further I read Sally Rooney’s book, the more real the characters became and the sentences grew plump with calm invisible things that lay softly within and needed no saying.’ Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

‘The further I read Sally Rooney’s book, the more real the characters became and the sentences grew plump with calm invisible things that lay softly within and needed no saying.’ Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

I invited a distinguished professor of literature to dinner last week and he couldn’t stop talking about Proust. I felt he was trying to smother me with his erudition.

“There is a calmness that abides inside every line Proust wrote,” he declared.  

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