I was recently in a conversation about what it takes to write a proper story, which started because I had read a full novel's worth of content in an incredibly long and slow-paced novel: In Search of Lost Time. This is a French autobiography written by Marcel Proust, and it's notably for the advanced grammar. The grammar is so perfectly written that its helped authors after its time to achieve greater grammatical prowess. I came to the realization that the novel is incredibly overrated, and possible from the (dare I say it), objective standpoint. Now You're probably thinking, "If you haven't read the whole novel, you can't judge." Newsflash: the world is full of surprises. If a novel demands so much attention that you have to read 3,000 pages of slow-pace to finish it, then you CAN judge if you've invested enough time.

This isn't the same thing as reading War and Peace, and I loved War and Peace. The novel may have lasted for 1,000 pages, but their were multiple main characters with their own stories being connected, and the novel covered 13 years of activity between all of them. This made a 1,000 page novel surprisingly quick-paced and to the point. A novel that focused anymore on vocabulary might have lasted 400 pages more, but I still would have read it. The problem here is that the majority of the appeal towards this slow-paced 3,000 page novel is that it's ambitious in its grammar. I am more than willing to read long novels. I'm currently getting through two novels: The Godfather and Journey to the West. The latter is 1,400 pages, and incredibly entertaining because there is a lot going on, and it's all unique and out of this world. It's true that the grammar of In Search of Lost Time is beyond incredible, but a Grammarly advertisement put the novel to shame without realizing it by saying, "take a look at this sentence. Grammatically, it's correct, but it's lengthy and hard to read." That's probably not verbatim, but the meaning is the same. I never forgot it. In Search of Lost Time is not only far too long... it's far too demanding.

The novel starts out with a long paragraph describing the very instant that a man wakes up from a dream. Even Satantango isn't that slow, and it's a seven hour black-and-white film full of five-to-ten minute camera shots. But at least Satantango had a story that stands out. In Search of Lost Time is an average story about an average boy's life in the 1800's and going into adulthood. What's so unique about an average life that it requires 3,000 pages of lengthy paragraphs? The story of Satantango centered around a slightly-apocalyptic world where the government has fallen, and now they're sending a man back to his village with a deal to use the people to rebuild the communist government without realizing it. This movie came from a novel, the debut novel of Hungarian writer László Krasznahorkai. I read that this novel's anti-communist message was so cleverly hidden that the communist government didn't even notice. A few years later, the communist government of Hungary DID go backwards. There's innovation, a message, a unique story and a satisfying negative ending.

Now, listen. The minimum length of a novel is 50,000 pages. I've read half of Swann's Way has a word count of 195,000 words. I read half. That means I've already essential read two minimum novels. After deciding that I didn't want to spend another 1.1 million words to reach the end of the slowest-pace I've ever experienced, I quit. I think 100,000 words is more than enough to validate an opinion on a novel so incredibly demanding. The novel wants you to achieve a sort of patience which goes beyond average readability. You see, sentences will oftentimes be as long as paragraphs. Why? The sentences that don't fall into dialogue will diverge into so many sub-points that you might forget what the original point of the sentence was. For some, this novel is saved by grammar so beautiful and perfect that it's ambitious.

So we have an ambitious and flawless college-English lesson that lasts for 3,000 pages. Otherwise, the characters are average and the story is not very unique for 100,000 pages. It's not a very interesting story. War and Peace had lots of interesting topics to cover because it was covering history from multiple perspectives. Journey to the West is probably the most active novel I've let my eyes see. Atlas Shrugged was fairly slow-paced, but the only reason I didn't finish it was because I moved and I couldn't find the copy. If someone has the audacity to say that you can't judge In Search of Lost Time because you haven't finished it, then ask the, "Why should I treat a slow-paced 3,000 page novel like any other novel?" You shouldn't. If something demands too much time from you, and you subject yourself to it for a little while and decide that it's too much, your opinion is PERFECTLY VALID and don't let anyone tell you that it's not.

If a 3,000 page novel is so complex in its writing that you have to go back and read multiple paragraphs, then there's a HUGE flaw with the novel. The story and characters suffer for this. The only reason you should read any part of it is to improve your grammar skills. If you enjoyed it, that's valid too. But the validity of reading 100,000 words and saying "That's enough" is undeniable.