À la recherche..

..du temps, of course, perdu..

(I confess I’ve never managed, despite repeated attempts, to get to grips with Proust or his masterpiece, so I thought I’d use my time idling around a Californian pool to have another crack at it, or at least its first volume, ‘Swann’s Way’, which is what we all mean when we say we’re reading ‘A La Recherche..’. I’m afraid I didn’t get much further this time than I have in the past, but, in the course of my efforts, I did come across this, I think, memorable and strangely modern passage, on the subject of Jealousy..)

 

“… But now and then his thoughts in their wandering course would come upon this memory where it lay unobserved, would startle it into life, thrust it forward into his consciousness, and leave him aching with a sharp, deep-rooted pain. As though it were a bodily pain, Swann’s mind was powerless to relieve it; but at least, in the case of bodily pain, since it is independent of the mind, the mind can dwell upon it, can note that it has diminished, that it has momentarily ceased. But in this case the mind, merely by recalling the pain, created it afresh. To determine not to think of it was to think of it still, to suffer from it still. And when, in conversation with his friends, he forgot about it, suddenly a word casually uttered would make him change countenance like a wounded man when a clumsy hand has touched his aching limb. When he came away from Odette he was happy, he felt calm, he recalled her smiles, of gentle mockery when speaking of this or that other person, of tenderness for himself; he recalled the gravity of her head which she seemed to have lifted from its axis to let it droop and fall, as though in spite of herself, upon his lips, as she had done on the first evening in the carriage, the languishing looks she had given him as she lay in his arms, nestling her head against her shoulder as though shrinking from the cold.”

“But then at once his jealousy, as though it were the shadow of his love, presented him with the complement, with the converse of that new smile with which she had greeted him that very evening – and which now, perversely, mocked Swann and shone with love for another – of that droop of the head, now sinking onto other lips, of all the marks of affection (now given to another) that she had shown to him. And all the voluptuous memories which he bore away from her house were, so to speak, but so many sketches, rough plans like those which a decorator submits, enabling Swann to form an idea of the various attitudes, aflame or faint with passion, which she might adopt for others. With the result that he came to regret every pleasure that he tasted in her company, every new caress of which he had been so imprudent as to point out to her the delights, every fresh charm that he found in her, for he knew that, a moment later, they would go to enrich the collection of instruments in his secret torture-chamber…”

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2 thoughts on “À la recherche..

  1. I’m impressed that you haven’t given up on Proust! Generally speaking, once you get past the first 300 pages, you’re more or less stuck and have to continue reading.

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