“A La Recherche du Temps Perdu: A work of genius written in bed. It opens with the narrator tucked between his sheets. It is rarely read for any length of time on a mattress.
It is also rarely read, but is often talked about and has had a major impact on many people who haven’t read it, if only because of the strain of waiting for Marcel Proust to be mentioned in conversation, which can happen as many as three times in a year. The educated person may the be required to make a comment on what they have only read about.
That literature could mean, as the French novelist Julian Gracq once complained, books more talked about than read indicates the extent to which language today may be used more to obscure and control than to communicate.”
Excerpted from: Saul, John Ralston. The Doubter’s Companion. New York: The Free Press, 1994.