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Friday, August 4, 2017

Little Proust Bravely Facing his Parents








One evening, because of a visit,  his mother did not come upstairs to say goodnight and, after waiting for a long time,  Proust decides to write "a line" and have a servant bring it to her. But ......
I realised that, by writing that line to Mamma [...], I had cut myself off from the possibility of going to sleep until I actually had seen her
and my heart began to beat more and more painfully as I increased my agitation by ordering myself to keep calm and to acquiesce in my ill-fortune.
Then, suddenly, my anxiety subsided, a feeling of intense happiness ran through me, as when a strong medicine begins to take effect....

....because little Proust decides bravely to take action and to confront his parents head-on as they came upstairs.
The tranquillity which followed my anguish made me extremely alert, no less than my sense of expectation, [....]  
Presently I heard her coming upstairs [....]  I saw in the well of the stair a light coming upwards, from Mamma’s candle. Then I saw Mamma herself: I threw myself upon her.
For an instant she looked at me in astonishment, not realising what could have happened. Then [....] she said not a single word to me; [....] 
...because there now comes his imposing father who was a surgeon, a scientist, a man  unaware of the other universe. And little Proust understands at once that he has placed his mother in a bind.
she heard my father coming [...]  and she said, in a voice half-stifled by her anger: “Run away at once. Don’t let your father see you standing there!”

But I begged her again to “Come and say good night to me!” terrified as I saw the light from my father’s candle already creeping up the wall, but also making use of his approach as a means of blackmail.

Too late.
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Many years have passed since that night. The wall of the staircase, where I had watched the light of his candle  climb, has long ago been demolished. And in myself, too, many things have perished which, I imagined, would last for ever

Here is The Great Proust, the world-class author drawing up the metaphor that will show the ultimate meaning :

But of late I have been increasingly able to catch, if I listen attentively, the sound of the sobs which I had the strength to control in my father’s presence, and which broke out only when I found myself alone with Mamma. Actually, their echo has never ceased: it is only because life is now growing more and more quiet round about me that I hear them afresh, like those convent bells which are so effectively drowned during the day by the noises of the streets that one would suppose them to have been stopped for ever, until they sound out again through the silent evening air.
:-(  remember this is Moncrieff's translation. Proust never used things like  "increasingly able to catch", "round about me", "hear afresh" , "effectively", "one would suppose"


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That is in a nutshell the 9 volumes of "Time lost". -- But  only the first  5 volumes are top quality, and the very first one, "Swann's Way", is also the greatest of  all nine, though the first ten pages are no good as a beginning, because they are overwritten and seem vain or even conceited in their self-awareness, and you will have to skip the last chapter, an awful collection of etymologies.


This is the last page of his manuscript. It was his brother who prepared the last three (or 4?) volumes for publication. That brother is never even mentioned.


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The complete text is free at
http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/p/proust/marcel/p96s/chapter1.html#chapter1
It is the beginning of "Swann's Way".


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