College has been over for exactly two weeks now, and we’ve all scattered to our various destinations, back home or to new cities, struggling to put down roots and take up barely-paid internships as we strive to make some sense out of early-twenties limbo. Our particular brand of striving takes a more literary form: we (Nora and Maeve) graduated from Hamilton College (a picturesque, tiny liberal arts school in the rolling hills of Upstate New York) with degrees in Comparative Literature, and, having the strong conviction that we wanted to become writers but less of a sense of how this might happen, are attempting to make our way into the world of journalism. Having met in sophomore year, we’ve bonded over oxford commas and literary-themed drinks, shared many a mango brie panini in our student-run café, and have no desire to lose these connections after graduation.
Nora is from New York, and working for the summer as an Intern at a political newspaper in Washington, DC, interviewing congressional delegates and doing features writing for the publication. Maeve is still in Baltimore (her hometown) for the time being, but will move to New York City in July to work as an Editorial Intern for a photography magazine in Chelsea. Though we have moved to different cities and taken up (what we hope are) the beginnings of our adult lives, we will miss one another and (as unabashedly geeky as it sounds) miss our literary lives.
We got together in February of senior year, when upstate New York was still snowbound, and jobs and graduation seemed millennia away, and devised a plan to hold onto those parts of college which we loved the most, to stay grounded in one way even as our lives changed drastically in every other. In order to accomplish this, we decided, we would turn to Proust, the enigmatic, long-winded French author whose masterpiece, In Search of Lost Time, is the longest novel ever written, and the subject of a course at Hamilton. We always wanted to take this class (despite the fact that the reading load is around 500 pages per week!), and have decided we should take on the challenge as part of our post-college lives, use it to connect to each other and literature, and write about it.
And so, without further ado, here is the schtick:
1. We will attempt to read, relate, and reflect on the entirety of Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time in the year following our college graduation. This amounts to 4,211 pages in a year, or roughly 81 a week.
2. In the process, we will continue to read, write, and engage in some version of a literary pursuit, making up for the absence of these things in our post-graduate lives, and
3. Most of all, stay in touch with both our college selves and each other, no matter where we end up, or what we end up doing.
Will too many nights of ramen (or, in Maeve’s case, gluten-free rice pasta) and the endless stretch of volumes get in our way? Will we reach September and realize that the hunt for real jobs takes precedence over nineteenth century Parisian parties and memories of madelines? Or will we prevail, finish the novel, find some connection to our own lives, and grow as both writers and friends?
At this point, your guess is as good as ours! Stay tuned—this will be an adventure.
—Nora and Maeve