Combray 09.09 ~~ Swann in Love 01.10 ~~ Place Names: The Name 05.10 ~~ Madame Swann at Home 06.10 ~~ Place Names: The Place 03.11 ~~ The Guermantes Way 04.12 ~~ Sodom and Gomorrah 08.14 ~~ The Captive 05.16 ~~ The Fugitive 07.17
is the only thing that exists for us, and we project it into the past, or into the future, without letting ourselves be stopped by the fictitious barriers of death. (V 712)
"...I felt that I was touching no more than the sealed envelope of a person who inwardly reached to infinity." (V 520)
Our true nature....
But the true nature which we repress continues nevertheless to abide within us. (V 387)
The only true voyage, the only bath in the Fountain of Youth, would be not to visit strange lands but to possess other eyes, to see the universe through the eyes of another, of a hundred others, to see the hundred universes that each of them sees, that each of them is; and this we can do with an Elstir, with a Vinteuil; with men like these we do really fly from star to star. (V 343)
Her intense & velvety gaze
fastened itself, glued itself to the passer-by, so adhesive, so corrosive, that you felt that, in withdrawing, it must tear away the skin. (V 193)
We must constantly choose between health and sanity on the one hand, and spiritual pleasures on the other. I have always been cowardly enough to choose the former. (V 159)
is a grave disease, but it is localized and so does not utterly corrupt the soul. (V 8)
Of the different persons who compose our personality, it is not the most obvious that are the most essential. (V 5)
The Color of Money...
For one thing, it is false to say that money has no colour. A new way of earning them gives a fresh lustre to coins that are tarnished with use. (IV 649)
Of phantoms pursued, forgotten, sought anew, sometimes for a single meeting, in order to establish contact with an unreal life which at once faded away, these Balbec roads were full. When I reflected that their trees -- pear trees, apple trees, tamarisks -- would outlive me, I seemed to be receiving from them a silent counsel to set myself to work at last, before the hour of eternal rest had yet struck. (IV 560)
An effect of Jealousy...
...As I drained a final glass, I gazed at a rosette painted on the white wall, and focused on it the pleasure that I felt. It alone in the world had any existence for me; I pursued it, touched it and lost it by turns with my wavering glance, and felt indifferent to the future, contenting myself with my rosette like a butterfly circling about another, stationary butterfly with which it is about to end its life in an act of supreme consummation. (IV 565)
He talked with the same irritating fluency, but his words no longer struck a chord, having to overcome a hostile silence or disagreeable echoes; what had changed was not what he said, but the acoustics of the room and the attitude of the audience. (IV 475)
...She had suddenly handed back to me the thoughts, the griefs which, from the days of my infancy, I had entrusted for all time to her keeping. She was not yet dead. I was already alone. And even those allusions which she had made... assumed an air of being without point or occasion, fantastic, because they sprang from the nullity of this very being who tomorrow possibly would have ceased to exist, for whom they would no longer have any meaning, from that nullity, incapable of conceiving them, which my grandmother would shortly be. (III 425)
... Every fresh glimpse is a sort of rectification, which brings us back to what we, in fact, saw. (II 678)
The woman we love
Our intuitive radiography pierces them, and the images which it brings back, far from being those of a particular face, present rather the joyless universality of a skeleton. (II 648)
in the freshest flower it is possible to discern those just perceptible signs which to the instructed mind already betray what will, by the desiccation or fructification of the flesh that is today in bloom, be the ultimate form, immutable and already predestined, of the autumnal seed... One had only to see, by the side of any of those girls, her mother or her aunt, to realise the distance over which, obeying the internal gravitation of a type that was generally frightful, these features would have travelled in less than thirty years, until the hour when the face, having sunk altogether below the horizon, catches the light no more. (II 643)
For what people have once done
...they will go on doing indefinitely, and if you go every year to see a friend who, the first few times, was unable to keep an appointment with you, or was in bed with a chill, you will miss him again at another meeting-place where he has failed to appear, for a single and unalterable reason in place of which he supposes himself to have various reasons, according to the circumstances. II 636
During that ridiculous age...
In a world thronged with monsters and with gods, we know little peace of mind. II 423
What the milk-girl brought...
I felt on seeing her that desire to live which is reborn in us whenever we become conscious anew of beauty and of happiness. II 318
On leaving home
... It was not for the first time that I felt that those who love and those who enjoy are not always the same. II 304
The things that one sees in the house of a respectable woman... are those which are in any event of the utmost importance to a courtesan. The culminating point of her day is not the moment in which she dresses herself for society, but that in which she undresses herself for a man. She must be as elegant in her dressing-gown, in her night-dress, as in her outdoor attire.
Seeing yourself in Time
Théoriquement on sait que la terre tourne, mais en fait on ne s’en aperçoit pas, le sol sur lequel on marche semble ne pas bouger et on vit tranquille. Il en est ainsi du Temps dans la vie.
The second suspicion, nothing more, really, than a variant of the first, was that I was not situated somewhere outside of Time, but was subject to its laws, just like people in novels who, for that reason, used to depress me when I read of their lives, down at Combray, in the fastness of my wicker chair. In theory, one is aware that the earth revolves, but in practice one does not perceive it, the ground upon which one treads seems not to move, and one can live undisturbed. So it is with Time in one’s life. And to make its flight perceptible novelists are obliged, by wildly accelerating the beat of the pendulum, to transport the reader in a couple of minutes over ten, or twenty, or even thirty years. At the top of one page we have left a lover full of hope; at the foot of the next we meet him again, a bowed old man of eighty, painfully dragging himself on his daily walk about the courtyard of an almshouse, scarcely replying to what is said to him, oblivious of the past. In saying of me, “He is no longer a child,” “His tastes will not change now,” and so forth, my father had suddenly made me see myself in my position in Time, and caused me the same kind of depression as if I had been, not yet the enfeebled old man, but one of those heroes of whom the author, in a tone of indifference which is particularly galling, says to us at the end of a book: “He very seldom comes up now from the country. He has finally decided to end his days there.”
Since my inclinations attracted me towards Literature, he did not dissuade me from that course; on the contrary, he spoke of it with deference, as of some venerable personage whose select circle, in Rome or at Dresden, one remembers with pleasure, and regrets only that one’s multifarious duties in life enable one to revisit it so seldom. He appeared to be envying me, with an almost rakish smile, the delightful hours which, more fortunate than himself and more free, I should be able to spend with such a Mistress. But the very terms that he used showed me Literature as something entirely different from the image I had formed of it at Combray, and I realized that I had been doubly right in abandoning my intention. Until now, I had reckoned only that I had no ‘gift’ for writing; now M. de Norpois took from me the ambition also.
Days are not all equal...
...These images, unreal, fixed, always alike, filling my nights and days, differentiated this period in my life from those that had gone before it (and might have been confused with it by an observer who sees things only from outside, that is to say, who sees nothing), as in an opera a melodic motif introduces something new that one could never have suspected if one had only read the libretto, still less if one had remained outside the theatre, only counting the minutes as they passed. And besides, even from the point of view, of mere quantity, in our lives the days are not all equal. To reach the end of a day, natures that are slightly nervous, as mine was, make use, like motor-cars, of different 'speeds.' There are mountainous, uncomfortable days, which take an infinite time to pass, and downward sloping days, through which one can descend at full tilt, singing as one goes.
... it was what gave her away; she had not taken into account that this fragmentary detail of the truth had sharp edges that could fit only into the contiguous fragments of the truth from which she had arbitrarily detached it, edges which, whatever the fictitious details in which she might embed it, would always reveal, by their excess of material and their unfilled empty areas, that its proper place was elsewhere.
Upon the sort of screen, patterned with different states and impressions, which my consciousness would quietly unfold while I was reading, and which ranged from the most deeply hidden aspirations of my heart to the wholly external view of the horizon spread out before my eyes at the foot of the garden, what was from the first the most permanent and the most intimate part of me, the lever whose incessant movements controlled all the rest, was my belief in the philosophic richness and beauty of the book I was reading, and my desire to appropriate these to myself, whatever the book might be.
Reading vs Doing
This dim freshness of my room was to the broad daylight of the street what the shadow is to the sunbeam, that is to say, equally luminous, and presented to my imagination the entire panorama of summer, which my senses, if I had been out walking, could have tasted and enjoyed in fragments only; and so was quite in harmony with my state of repose, which (thanks to the adventures related in my books, which had just excited it) bore, like a hand reposing motionless in a stream of running water, the shock and animation of a torrent of activity and life.
For a long time I used to go to bed early. Sometimes, when I had put out my candle, my eyes would close so quickly that I had not even time to say "I'm going to sleep." And half an hour later the thought that it was time to go to sleep would awaken me; I would try to put away the book which, I imagined, was still in my hands, and to blow out the light; I had been thinking all the time, while I was asleep, of what I had just been reading, but my thoughts had run into a channel of their own, until I myself seemed actually to have become the subject of my book: a church, a quartet, the rivalry between François I and Charles V. This impression would persist for some moments after I was awake; it did not disturb my mind, but it lay like scales upon my eyes and prevented them from registering the fact that the candle was no longer burning. Then it would begin to seem unintelligible, as the thoughts of a former existence must be to a reincarnate spirit; the subject of my book would separate itself from me, leaving me free to choose whether I would form part of it or no; and at the same time my sight would return and I would be astonished to find myself in a state of darkness, pleasant and restful enough for the eyes, and even more, perhaps, for my mind, to which it appeared incomprehensible, without a cause, a matter dark indeed.