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Sunday May 1, 2016

The beautiful has the power to turn you into a beloved or to turn you into a liar. If beauty is not valued as the ne plus ultra, to describe it as "the beautiful" (as is occasionally done) is a lie.

However, the power of beauty—as subjective as it is—can change a person from a subject into an object, or in other words, from a lover searching for the beautiful into a sought object of the beautiful. We are a lover and we look for beauty and when we find it—as rare as that is—we become the beloved.

Posted by: Eugene Wyatt
4/24/2016 10:26 am
Labels: Beauty

also read the playscript adapted by Harold Pinter and Di Trevis from his The Proust Screenplay called Remembrance Of Things Past.

The playscript has all the problems of the screenplay and worse, i.e. it tries to cover too much of the novel and becomes even more choppy. There are obvious short cuts in dialogue that make those-who-know-the-novel blush. Furthermore the playscript only quotes Proust in the third person of his characters; it ignores the voice that that he is famous for: his older reflective Narrator in the first person.

Because it was a produced play (in 2000 at the Cottesloe Theatre at the Royal National Theatre) it necessarily ignores the voice that Proust is remembered for; there is no space for his older Narrator except in a chorus like the Greek (Aeschylus, etc.) tragedies or possibly in the more modern musicals.

Posted by: Eugene Wyatt
4/12/2016 6:09 pm

I read Harold Pinter's adapted screenplay of Marcel Proust's novel À la recherche du temps perdu called The Proust Screenplay. Here is Harold Pinter from the Introduction:

Early in 1972 Nicole Stéphane, who owned the film rights to À la Recherche du Temps Perdu, asked Joseph Losey if he would like to work on a film version of the book. He asked me if I was interested.

For three months I read À la Recherche du Temps Perdu every day. I took hundreds of notes while reading but was left at the end quite baffled as to how to approach a task of such magnitude. The one thing of which I was certain was that it would be wrong to attempt to make a film centred around one or two volumes, La Prisonnière or Sodome et Gomorrhe, for example. If the thing was to be done at all, one would have to try to distil the whole work, to incorporate the major themes of the book into an integrated whole. We decided that the architecture of the film should be based on two main and contrasting principles: one, a movement, chiefly narrative, towards disillusion, and the other, more intermittent, towards revelation, rising to where time that was lost is found, and fixed forever in art.

In Le Temps Retrouvé, Marcel, in his forties, hears the bell of his childhood. His childhood, long forgotten, is suddenly present within him, but his consciousness of himself as a child, his memory of the experience, is more real, more acute than the experience itself.

Working on À la Recherche du Temps Perdu was the best working year of my life.

The money to make the film was never found.

Collected Screenplays 2, Harold Pinter 2000, Introduction,  pages vii-viii.

As much as I loved his adaption of The Servant (Pinter for Losey, 1963), I find that The Proust Screenplay tries to cover the entire novel—500,000 words, the longest fictional work ever written—and it fails, undoubtably. Reading the screenplay feels like one is glancing over the synopses in the rear of the 6 volumes of the Modern Library Edition; it contains the structure but little of his writing. Harold Pinter rarely quotes what Marcel Proust is celebrated for:

J’étais dans une de ces périodes de la jeunesse, dépourvues d’un amour particulier, vacantes, où partout –comme un amoureux la femme dont il est épris –on désire, on cherche, on voit la beauté.

À l'ombre des jeunes filles en fleurMarcel Proust 1919, Humanis Edition, Loc 14214.

I was passing through one of those periods of our youth, unprovided with any one definite love, vacant, in which at all times and in all places —as a lover the woman by whose charms he is smitten —we desire, we seek, we see Beauty. 

Within A Budding Grove, Marcel Proust 1919 and translated by C. K. Scott Moncrieff 1924, Loc 6279.

Marcel Proust's quoted passage is just before Albertine is introduced. Thoughout the novel she is an enigma. Writing the screenplay, I would have focused on Albertine, spanning Vol. 2 to Vol. 5, and I would have quoted extensively Proust too. To differ from screenwriting per se, I would have the director write the 'screenplay' to detail the camera angles and what the director exposes to the camera: occasionally that will be an atemporal documentary realism (as the author writes nonfiction from time to time) while living with Marcel Proust's V.O. narration.

I would write a shooting script rather than a screenplay, which has been already done by Harold Pinter, and present it to the audience as images, both fictional and non-fictional, in the midst of Proust's quoted voice-over narration for a movie called Albertine.

Posted by: Eugene Wyatt
4/8/2016 5:35 pm

It was promptly settled between us that he (Saint-Loup) and I were to be great friends for ever, and he would say ‘our friendship’ as though he were speaking of some important and delightful thing which had an existence independent of ourselves, and which he soon called —not counting his love for his mistress —the great joy of his life. These words made me rather uncomfortable and I was at a loss for an answer, for I did not feel when I was with him and talked to him —and no doubt it would have been the same with everyone else —any of that happiness which it was, on the other hand, possible for me to experience when I was by myself. For alone, at times, I felt surging from the depths of my being one or other of those impressions which gave me a delicious sense of comfort. But as soon as I was with some one else, when I began to talk to a friend, my mind at once ‘turned about,’ it was towards the listener and not myself that it directed its thoughts, and when they followed this outward course they brought me no pleasure. Once I had left Saint-Loup, I managed, with the help of words, to put more or less in order the confused minutes that I had spent with him; I told myself that I had a good friend, that a good friend was a rare thing, and I tasted, when I felt myself surrounded by ‘goods’ that were difficult to acquire, what was precisely the opposite of the pleasure that was natural to me, the opposite of the pleasure of having extracted from myself and brought to light something that was hidden in my inner darkness. If I had spent two or three hours in conversation with Saint-Loup, and he had expressed his admiration of what I had said to him, I felt a sort of remorse, or regret, or weariness at not having been left alone and ready, at last, to begin my work. But I told myself that one is not given intelligence for one’s own benefit only, that the greatest of men have longed for appreciation, that I could not regard as wasted hours in which I had built up an exalted idea of myself in the mind of my friend; I had no difficulty in persuading myself that I ought to be happy in consequence, and I hoped all the more anxiously that this happiness might never be taken from me simply because I had not yet been conscious of it. We fear more than the loss of everything else the disappearance of the ‘goods’ that have remained beyond our reach, because our heart has not taken possession of them. I felt that I was capable of exemplifying the virtues of friendship better than most people (because I should always place the good of my friends before those personal interests to which other people were devoted but which did not count for me), but not of finding happiness in a feeling which, instead of multiplying the differences that there were between my nature and those of other people —as there are among all of us —would cancel them. At the same time my mind was distinguishing in Saint-Loup a personality more collective than his own, that of the ‘noble’; which like an indwelling spirit moved his limbs, ordered his gestures and his actions; then, at such moments, although in his company, I was as much alone as I should have been gazing at a landscape the harmony of which I could understand. He was no more then than an object the properties of which, in my musing contemplations, I sought to explore. The perpetual discovery in him of this pre-existent, this aeonial creature, this aristocrat who was just what Robert aspired not to be, gave me a keen delight, but one that was intellectual and not social. In the moral and physical agility which gave so much grace to his kindnesses, in the ease with which he offered my grandmother his carriage and made her get into it, in the alacrity with which he sprang from the box, when he was afraid that I might be cold, to spread his own cloak over my shoulders, I felt not only the inherited litheness of the mighty hunters who had been for generations the ancestors of this young man who made no pretence save to intellectuality, their scorn of wealth which, subsisting in him side by side with his enjoyment of it simply because it enabled him to entertain his friends more lavishly, made him so carelessly shower his riches at their feet; I felt in him especially the certainty or the illusion in the minds of those great lords of being ‘better than other people,’ thanks to which they had not been able to hand down to Saint-Loup that anxiety to shew that one is ‘just as good that dread of seeming inferior, of which he was indeed wholly unconscious, but which mars with so much ugliness, so much awkwardness, the most sincere overtures of a plebeian. Sometimes I found fault with myself for thus taking pleasure in my friend as in a work of art, that is to say in regarding the play of all the parts of his being as harmoniously ordered by a general idea from which they depended but which he did not know, so that it added nothing to his own good qualities, to that personal value, intellectual and moral, to which he attached so high a price.

Within A Budding Grove translated by C. K. Scott Moncrieff 1924, Loc 5419.

Posted by: Eugene Wyatt
4/5/2016 6:55 am

From Proust, Woolf and Modern Fiction, Pericles Lewis, The Romanic Review Volume 99 Number 1, Columbia University,

Letter from Virginia Woolf to Roger Fry on May 6, 1922,

'But Proust so titillates my own desire for expression that I can hardly set out the sentence. Oh if I could write like that! I cry. And at the moment such is the astonishing vibration and saturation and intensify cation that he procures—there’s something sexual in it—that I feel I can write like that and seize my pen and then I can’twrite like that. Scarcely anyone so stimulates the nerves of language in me: it becomes an obsession.'*
* ... At this point, Woolf was reading Proust in the original, but she probably later read C. K. Scott Moncrieff’s translation of at least some volumes.

And again, to Roger Fry on October 3, 1922, 

'My great adventure is really Proust. Well – what remains to be written after that? I’m only in the first volume, and there are, I suppose, faults to be found, but I am in a state of amazement; as if a miracle were being done before my eyes. How, at last, has someone solidified what has always escaped – and made it too into this beautiful and perfectly enduring substance? One has to put the book down and gasp. The pleasure becomes physical – like sun and wine and grapes and perfect serenity and intense vitality combined.'

The Letters of Virginia Woolf, ed. Nigel Nicolson and Joanne Trautman (San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1975–1980), vol. 2.
Woolf ... had returned to work on Mrs. Dalloway, when, on February 10, 1923, she wrote in her diary, “I wonder if this next lap will be influenced by Proust? I think his French language, tradition, &c, prevents that: yet his command of every resource is so extravagant that one can hardly fail to profit, & must not flinch, through cowardice.”
Nonetheless, it seems to me that Proust served as an important model for Woolf’s own fiction, and that one of his functions for her was to counter-balance the influence of Woolf’s own most famous English-language contemporary, James Joyce. Much has been made in Woolf criticism of Woolf’s antagonism toward and anxiety about the influence of Joyce. She compares Joyce unfavorably to Proust in a letter to Fry of Oct. 3, 1922. “My great adventure,” she writes, “is really Proust.” ...
... The pleasure becomes physical—like sun and wine and grapes and perfect serenity and intense vitality combined. Far otherwise is it with Ulysses; to which I bind myself like a martyr to a stake, and have thank God, now finished—My martyrdom is over.
A diary entry (from September 6, 1922) documents her rejection of Joyce:
I finished Ulysses, & think it a mis-fire. Genius it has I think; but of the inferior water. The book is diffuse. It is brackish. It is pretentious. It is underbred, not only in the obvious sense, but in the literary sense. A first rate writer, I mean, respects writing too much to be tricky; startling; doing stunts. I’m reminded all the time of some callow board school boy . . . full of wits & powers, but so self-conscious & egotistical that he loses his head, becomes extravagant, mannered, uproarious, ill at ease, makes kindly people feel sorry for him, & stern ones merely annoyed; & one hopes he’ll grow out of it; but as Joyce is 40 this scarcely seems likely.
The Diary of Virginia Woolf, ed. Anne Olivier Bell (San Diego: Harcourt Brace
Jovanovich, 1977–1984) vol. 2. 
Posted by: Eugene Wyatt
4/3/2016 4:48 pm

Si un être peut être le produit d’un sol dont on goûte en lui le charme particulier, plus encore que la paysanne que j’avais tant désiré voir apparaître quand j’errais seul du côté de Méséglise, dans les bois de Roussainville, ce devait être la grande fille que je vis sortir de cette maison et, sur le sentier qu’illuminait obliquement le soleil levant, venir vers la gare en portant une jarre de lait. Dans la vallée à qui ces hauteurs cachaient le reste du monde, elle ne devait jamais voir personne que dans ces trains qui ne s’arrêtaient qu’un instant. Elle longea les wagons, offrant du café au lait à quelques voyageurs réveillés. Empourpré des reflets du matin, son visage était plus rose que le ciel. Je ressentis devant elle ce désir de vivre qui renaît en nous chaque fois que nous prenons de nouveau conscience de la beauté et du bonheur. Nous oublions toujours qu’ils sont individuels et, leur substituant dans notre esprit un type de convention que nous formons en faisant une sorte de moyenne entre les différents visages qui nous ont plu, entre les plaisirs que nous avons connus, nous n’avons que des images abstraites qui sont languissantes et fades parce qu’il leur manque précisément ce caractère d’une chose nouvelle, différente de ce que nous avons connu, ce caractère qui est propre à la beauté et au bonheur. Et nous portons sur la vie un jugement pessimiste et que nous supposons juste, car nous avons cru y faire entrer en ligne de compte le bonheur et la beauté quand nous les avons omis et remplacés par des synthèses où d’eux il n’y a pas un seul atome. C’est ainsi que bâille d’avance d’ennui un lettré à qui on parle d’un nouveau « beau livre », parce qu’il imagine une sorte de composé de tous les beaux livres qu’il a lus, tandis qu’un beau livre est particulier, imprévisible, et n’est pas fait de la somme de tous les chefs-d’œuvre précédents mais de quelque chose que s’être parfaitement assimilé cette somme ne suffit nullement à faire trouver, car c’est justement en dehors d’elle. Dès qu’il a eu connaissance de cette nouvelle œuvre, le lettré, tout à l’heure blasé, se sent de l’intérêt pour la réalité qu’elle dépeint. Telle, étrangère aux modèles de beauté que dessinait ma pensée quand je me trouvais seul, la belle fille me donna aussitôt le goût d’un certain bonheur (seule forme, toujours particulière, sous laquelle nous puissions connaître le goût du bonheur), d’un bonheur qui se réaliserait en vivant auprès d’elle. Mais ici encore la cessation momentanée de l’Habitude agissait pour une grande part. Je faisais bénéficier la marchande de lait de ce que c’était mon être complet, apte à goûter de vives jouissances, qui était en face d’elle. C’est d’ordinaire avec notre être réduit au minimum que nous vivons, la plupart de nos facultés restent endormies parce qu’elles se reposent sur l’habitude qui sait ce qu’il y a à faire et n’a pas besoin d’elles. Mais par ce matin de voyage l’interruption de la routine de mon existence, le changement de lieu et d’heure avaient rendu leur présence indispensable. Mon habitude qui était sédentaire et n’était pas matinale faisait défaut, et toutes mes facultés étaient accourues pour la remplacer, rivalisant entre elles de zèle –s’élevant toutes, comme des vagues, à un même niveau inaccoutumé –de la plus basse à la plus noble, de la respiration, de l’appétit, et de la circulation sanguine à la sensibilité et à l’imagination. Je ne sais si, en me faisant croire que cette fille n’était pas pareille aux autres femmes, le charme sauvage de ces lieux ajoutait au sien, mais elle le leur rendait. La vie m’aurait paru délicieuse si seulement j’avais pu, heure par heure, la passer avec elle, l’accompagner jusqu’au torrent, jusqu’à la vache, jusqu’au train, être toujours à ses côtés, me sentir connu d’elle, ayant ma place dans sa pensée. Elle m’aurait initié aux charmes de la vie rustique et des premières heures du jour. Je lui fis signe qu’elle vînt me donner du café au lait. J’avais besoin d’être remarqué d’elle. Elle ne me vit pas, je l’appelai. Au-dessus de son corps très grand, le teint de sa figure était si doré et si rose qu’elle avait l’air d’être vue à travers un vitrail illuminé. Elle revint sur ses pas, je ne pouvais détacher mes yeux de son visage de plus en plus large, pareil à un soleil qu’on pourrait fixer et qui s’approcherait jusqu’à venir tout près de vous, se laissant regarder de près, vous éblouissant d’or et de rouge. Elle posa sur moi son regard perçant, mais comme les employés fermaient les portières, le train se mit en marche ; je la vis quitter la gare et reprendre le sentier, il faisait grand jour maintenant : je m’éloignais de l’aurore.

À l'ombre des jeunes filles en fleur, Marcel Proust 1918, Humanis Edition, Loc 11886

If a person can be the product of a soil the peculiar charm of which one distinguishes in that person, more even than the peasant girl whom I had so desperately longed to see appear when I wandered by myself along the Méséglise way, in the woods of Roussainville, such a person must be the big girl whom I now saw emerge from the house and, climbing a path lighted by the first slanting rays of the sun, come towards the station carrying a jar of milk. In her valley from which its congregated summits hid the rest of the world, she could never see anyone save in these trains which stopped for a moment only. She passed down the line of windows, offering coffee and milk to a few awakened passengers. Purpled with the glow of morning, her face was rosier than the sky. I felt in her presence that desire to live which is reborn in us whenever we become conscious anew of beauty and of happiness. We invariably forget that these are individual qualities, and, substituting for them in our mind a conventional type at which we arrive by striking a sort of mean amongst the different faces that have taken our fancy, the pleasures we have known, we are left with mere abstract images which are lifeless and dull because they are lacking in precisely that element of novelty, different from anything we have known, that element which is proper to beauty and to happiness. And we deliver on life a pessimistic judgment which we suppose to be fair, for we believed that we were taking into account when we formed it happiness and beauty, whereas in fact we left them out and replaced them by syntheses in which there is not a single atom of either. So it is that a well-read man will at once begin to yawn with boredom when anyone speaks to him of a new ‘good book,’ because he imagines a sort of composite of all the good books that he has read and knows already, whereas a good book is something special, something incalculable, and is made up not of the sum of all previous masterpieces but of something which the most thorough assimilation of every one of them would not enable him to discover, since it exists not in their sum but beyond it. Once he has become acquainted with this new work, the well-read man, till then apathetic, feels his interest awaken in the reality which it depicts. So, alien to the models of beauty which my fancy was wont to sketch when I was by myself, this strapping girl gave me at once the sensation of a certain happiness (the sole form, always different, in which we may learn the sensation of happiness), of a happiness that would be realised by my staying and living there by her side. But in this again the temporary cessation of Habit played a great part. I was giving the milk-girl the benefit of what was really my own entire being, ready to taste the keenest joys, which now confronted her. As a rule it is with our being reduced to a minimum that we live, most of our faculties lie dormant because they can rely upon Habit, which knows what there is to be done and has no need of their services. But on this morning of travel, the interruption of the routine of my existence, the change of place and time, had made their presence indispensable. My habits, which were sedentary and not matutinal, played me false, and all my faculties came hurrying to take their place, vying with one another in their zeal, rising, each of them, like waves in a storm, to the same unaccustomed level, from the basest to the most exalted, from breath, appetite, the circulation of my blood to receptivity and imagination. I cannot say whether, so as to make me believe that this girl was unlike the rest of women, the rugged charm of these barren tracts had been added to her own, but if so she gave it back to them. Life would have seemed an exquisite thing to me if only I had been free to spend it, hour after hour, with her, to go with her to the stream, to the cow, to the train, to be always at her side, to feel that I was known to her, had my place in her thoughts. She would have initiated me into the delights of country life and of the first hours of the day. I signalled to her to give me some of her coffee. I felt that I must be noticed by her. She did not see me; I called to her. Above her body, which was of massive build, the complexion of her face was so burnished and so ruddy that she appeared almost as though I were looking at her through a lighted window. She had turned and was coming towards me; I could not take my eyes from her face which grew larger as she approached, like a sun which it was somehow possible to arrest in its course and draw towards one, letting itself be seen at close quarters, blinding the eyes with its blaze of red and gold. She fastened on me her penetrating stare, but while the porters ran along the platform shutting doors the train had begun to move. I saw her leave the station and go down the hill to her home; it was broad daylight now; I was speeding away from the dawn.

Within A Budding Grove, Marcel Proust 1918; translated by C. K. Scott Moncrieff 1922, Loc 4008

Posted by: Eugene Wyatt
3/18/2016 7:42 pm

Et Swann, qui était simple et négligent avec une duchesse, tremblait d’être méprisé, posait, quand il était devant une femme de chambre.

Il n’était pas comme tant de gens qui, par paresse, ou sentiment résigné de l’obligation que crée la grandeur sociale de rester attaché à un certain rivage, s’abstiennent des plaisirs que la réalité leur présente en dehors de la position mondaine où ils vivent cantonnés jusqu’à leur mort, se contentant de finir par appeler plaisirs, faute de mieux, une fois qu’ils sont parvenus à s’y habituer, les divertissements médiocres ou les supportables ennuis qu’elle renferme. Swann, lui, ne cherchait pas à trouver jolies les femmes avec qui il passait son temps, mais à passer son temps avec les femmes qu’il avait d’abord trouvées jolies. Et c’était souvent des femmes de beauté assez vulgaire, car les qualités physiques qu’il recherchait sans s’en rendre compte étaient en complète opposition avec celles qui lui rendaient admirables les femmes sculptées ou peintes par les maîtres qu’il préférait. La profondeur, la mélancolie de l’expression, glaçaient ses sens que suffisait au contraire à éveiller une chair saine, plantureuse et rose.

Du côté de chez Swann, Marcel Proust 1913, Humanis Edition, Loc 3571.

And though Swann was unaffected and casual with a duchess, he trembled at being scorned by a chamber-maid, and posed in front of her.

He was not like so many people who from laziness or a resigned sense of the obligation created by social grandeur to remain moored to a certain shore, abstain from the pleasures real life offers them outside the high-society position in which they live billeted and encamped until their death, contenting themselves in the end with describing as pleasures, for lack of any better, once they have managed to become used to them, the mediocre amusements or bearable tedium it contains. Swann did not try to convince himself that the women with whom he spent his time were pretty, but to spend his time with women he already knew were pretty. And these were often women of a rather vulgar beauty, for the physical qualities that he looked for without realizing it were the direct opposite of those he admired in the women sculpted or painted by his favorite masters. Depth of expression, melancholy, would freeze his senses, which were, however, immediately aroused by flesh that was healthy, plump, and pink.

Swann's Way, Marcel Proust 1913; translated by Lydia Davis 2002, P. 216.

Posted by: Eugene Wyatt
3/4/2016 4:12 pm

Comme la promenade du côté de Méséglise était la moins longue des deux que nous faisions autour de Combray et qu’à cause de cela on la réservait pour les temps incertains, le climat du côté de Méséglise était assez pluvieux et nous ne perdions jamais de vue la lisière des bois de Roussainville dans l’épaisseur desquels nous pourrions nous mettre à couvert.

Souvent le soleil se cachait derrière une nuée qui déformait son ovale et dont il jaunissait la bordure. L’éclat, mais non la clarté, était enlevé à la campagne où toute vie semblait suspendue, tandis que le petit village de Roussainville sculptait sur le ciel le relief de ses arêtes blanches avec une précision et un fini accablants. Un peu de vent faisait envoler un corbeau qui retombait dans le lointain, et, contre le ciel blanchissant, le lointain des bois paraissait plus bleu, comme peint dans ces camaïeux qui décorent les trumeaux des anciennes demeures.

Mais d’autres fois se mettait à tomber la pluie dont nous avait menacés le capucin que l’opticien avait à sa devanture ; les gouttes d’eau, comme des oiseaux migrateurs qui prennent leur vol tous ensemble, descendaient à rangs pressés du ciel. Elles ne se séparent point, elles ne vont pas à l’aventure pendant la rapide traversée, mais chacune tenant sa place attire à elle celle qui la suit et le ciel en est plus obscurci qu’au départ des hirondelles. Nous nous réfugiions dans le bois. Quand leur voyage semblait fini, quelques-unes, plus débiles, plus lentes, arrivaient encore. Mais nous ressortions de notre abri, car les gouttes se plaisent aux feuillages, et la terre était déjà presque séchée que plus d’une s’attardait à jouer sur les nervures d’une feuille, et suspendue à la pointe, reposée, brillant au soleil, tout d’un coup se laissait glisser de toute la hauteur de la branche et nous tombait sur le nez.

Du côté de chez Swann, Marcel Proust 1913, Humanis Edition, Loc 2937.

Since the walk along the Méséglise way was the shorter of the two that we took out of Combray and since, because of that, we saved it for uncertain weather, the climate along the Méséglise way was quite rainy and we would never lose sight of the edge of the Roussainville woods, in the thickness of which we could take cover.

Often the sun would hide behind a storm cloud, distorting its oval, yellowing the edges of the cloud. The brilliance, though not the brightness, would be withdrawn from the countryside, where all life seemed suspended, while the little village of Roussainville sculpted its white rooflines in relief upon the sky with an unbearable precision and finish. Nudged by a gust of wind, a crow flew up and dropped down again in the distance, and, against the whitening sky, the distant parts of the woods appeared bluer, as though painted in one of those monochromes that decorate the pier glasses of old houses.

But at other times the rain with which we had been threatened by the little hooded monk in the optician’s window would begin to fall; the drops of water, like migrating birds which take flight all at the same time, would descend in close ranks from the sky. They do not separate at all, they do not wander away during their rapid course, but each one keeps to its place, drawing along the one that comes after it, and the sky is more darkened by them than when the swallows leave. We would take refuge in the woods. When their flight seemed to be over, a few of them, feebler, slower, would still be arriving. But we would come back out of our shelter, because raindrops delight in leafy branches, and, when the earth was already nearly dry again, more than one would still linger to play on the ribs of a leaf and, hanging from the tip, tranquil and sparkling in the sun, would suddenly let go, slip off, and drop from the entire height of the branch onto one’s nose.

Swann's Way, Marcel Proust 1913; translated by Lydia Davis 2002, P. 167.

Posted by: Eugene Wyatt
3/2/2016 6:13 pm

The noted Hungarian photographer Brassaï came to Paris in 1924 speaking poor French. To learn it better he began reading the works of Marcel Proust.

Nous croisâmes près de l’église Legrandin qui venait en sens inverse conduisant la même dame à sa voiture. Il passa contre nous, ne s’interrompit pas de parler à sa voisine, et nous fit du coin de son œil bleu un petit signe en quelque sorte intérieur aux paupières et qui, n’intéressant pas les muscles de son visage, put passer parfaitement inaperçu de son interlocutrice ; mais, cherchant à compenser par l’intensité du sentiment le champ un peu étroit où il en circonscrivait l’expression, dans ce coin d’azur qui nous était affecté il fit pétiller tout l’entrain de la bonne grâce qui dépassa l’enjouement, frisa la malice ; il subtilisa les finesses de l’amabilité jusqu’aux clignements de la connivence, aux demi-mots, aux sous-entendus, aux mystères de la complicité ; et finalement exalta les assurances d’amitié jusqu’aux protestations de tendresse, jusqu’à la déclaration d’amour, illuminant alors pour nous seuls, d’une langueur secrète et invisible à la châtelaine, une prunelle énamourée dans un visage de glace.

Du côté de chez Swann, Marcel Proust 1913, Humanis Edition, Loc 2399.

Near the church we met Legrandin, who was coming in the opposite direction escorting the same lady to her carriage. He passed close to us, did not break off his conversation with his neighbor, and from the corner of his blue eye gave us a little sign that was in some way interior to his eyelid and which, not involving the muscles of his face, could go perfectly unnoticed by the lady he was talking to; but seeking to compensate by intensity of feeling for the somewhat narrow field in which he had circumscribed its expression, in the azure corner assigned to us he set sparkling all the liveliness of a grace that exceeded playfulness, bordered on mischievousness; he overrefined the subtleties of amiability into winks of connivance, insinuations, innuendos, the mysteries of complicity; and finally exalted his assurances of friendship into protestations of affection, into a declaration of love, illuminating for us alone, at that moment, with a secret languor invisible to the lady, a love-smitten eye in a face of ice.

Swann's Way, Marcel Proust 1913; translated by Lydia Davis 2002, P. 139.

À vrai dire mon père lui-même, qui était pourtant le plus irrité contre l’attitude qu’avait eue Legrandin, gardait peut-être un dernier doute sur le sens qu’elle comportait. Elle était comme toute attitude ou action où se révèle le caractère profond et caché de quelqu’un : elle ne se relie pas à ses paroles antérieures, nous ne pouvons pas la faire confirmer par le témoignage du coupable qui n’avouera pas ; nous en sommes réduits à celui de nos sens dont nous nous demandons, devant ce souvenir isolé et incohérent, s’ils n’ont pas été le jouet d’une illusion ; de sorte que de telles attitudes, les seules qui aient de l’importance, nous laissent souvent quelques doutes.

Du côté de chez Swann, Marcel Proust 1913, Humanis Edition, Loc 2416.

In fact, my father himself, though he was the one most irritated by Legrandin’s attitude, may still have harbored a last doubt as to what it meant. It was like any attitude or action that reveals a person’s deep and hidden character: it has no connection with anything he has said before, we cannot seek confirmation from the culprit’s testimony for he will not confess; we are reduced to the testimony of our own senses concerning which we wonder, confronting this isolated and incoherent memory, if they were not the victims of an illusion; so that these attitudes, the only ones of any importance, often leave us with some doubts.

Swann's Way, Marcel Proust 1913; translated by Lydia Davis 2002, p. 141.

Posted by: Eugene Wyatt
3/1/2016 1:26 pm

Marcel Proust says that Camille Saint-Saëns, the source of his little phrase at the Saint-Euverte soirée, is "a composer I dislike" and Charles Swann complains of Odette, whom he later marries, that she "was not my type". 

what's good for the goose is good for the gander—

From the author,

"... the little phrase from this Sonata, and I've never told anyone this before, is, at the Saint-Euverte soirée (to begin at the end), the charming but mediocre theme from a Violin and Piano Sonata by Saint-Saëns, a composer I dislike."

A letter from Marcel Proust to Jacques Lacretelle, April 20, 1918.

And Swann on Odette,

And with the intermittent coarseness that reappeared in him as soon as he was no longer unhappy and the level of his morality dropped accordingly, he exclaimed to himself: “To think that I wasted years of my life, that I wanted to die, that I felt my deepest love, for a woman who did not appeal to me, who was not my type!”

Swann's Way, Marcel Proust 1913; translated by Lydia Davis 2002, p. 433.

Mais le concert recommença et Swann comprit qu’il ne pourrait pas s’en aller avant la fin de ce nouveau numéro du programme. 

Il souffrait de rester enfermé au milieu de ces gens dont la bêtise et les ridicules le frappaient d’autant plus douloureusement qu’ignorant son amour, incapables, s’ils l’avaient connu, de s’y intéresser et de faire autre chose que d’en sourire comme d’un enfantillage ou de le déplorer comme une folie, ils le lui faisaient apparaître sous l’aspect d’un état subjectif qui n’existait que pour lui, dont rien d’extérieur ne lui affirmait la réalité ; il souffrait surtout, et au point que même le son des instruments lui donnait envie de crier, de prolonger son exil dans ce lieu où Odette ne viendrait jamais, où personne, où rien ne la connaissait, d’où elle était entièrement absente.

Mais tout à coup ce fut comme si elle était entrée, et cette apparition lui fut une si déchirante souffrance qu’il dut porter la main à son cœur. C’est que le violon était monté à des notes hautes où il restait comme pour une attente, une attente qui se prolongeait sans qu’il cessât de les tenir, dans l’exaltation où il était d’apercevoir déjà l’objet de son attente qui s’approchait, et avec un effort désespéré pour tâcher de durer jusqu’à son arrivée, de l’accueillir avant d’expirer, de lui maintenir encore un moment de toutes ses dernières forces le chemin ouvert pour qu’il pût passer, comme on soutient une porte qui sans cela retomberait. Et avant que Swann eût eu le temps de comprendre, et de se dire : « C’est la petite phrase de la sonate de Vinteuil, n’écoutons pas ! » ...

Du côté de chez Swann, Marcel Proust 1913, Humanis Edition, Loc 6396-6407.

But the concert was beginning again and Swann realized he would not be able to leave before the end of this new number.

He was suffering at having to remain shut up among these people whose stupidity and absurd habits struck him all the more painfully since, being unaware of his love, incapable, had they known about it, of taking any interest in it or doing more than smile at it as at some childish nonsense or deplore it as utter madness, they made it appear to him as a subjective state which existed only for him, whose reality was confirmed for him by nothing outside himself; he suffered most of all, to the point where even the sound of the instruments made him want to cry out, from prolonging his exile in this place to which Odette would never come, where no one, where nothing knew her, from which she was entirely absent.

But suddenly it was as though she had appeared in the room, and this apparition caused him such harrowing pain that he had to put his hand on his heart. What had happened was that the violin had risen to a series of high notes on which it lingered as though waiting for something, holding on to them in a prolonged expectancy, in the exaltation of already seeing the object of its expectation approaching, and with a desperate effort to try to endure until it arrived, to welcome it before expiring, to keep the way open for it another moment with a last bit of strength so that it could come through, as one holds up a trapdoor that would otherwise fall back. And before Swann had time to understand, and say to himself: “It’s the little phrase from the sonata by Vinteuil; don’t listen!” ...

Swann's Way, Marcel Proust 1913; translated by Lydia Davis 2002, p. 388.

Posted by: Eugene Wyatt
2/18/2016 6:20 am

Indigo Over Madder

Natural Indigo from plant leaves dyed-over Natural Madder from plant roots produces this rich and variegated color that looks like twilight in New York where I live.

Some colors are more satisfying to dye than other colors. And this one I always like to dye because it's good for the imagination; it is a blue over orange.  In theory they are opposite one another on the color wheel; they are called complementary colors; supposedly, when you mix compliments they make gray.

Each worsted skein weighs 2 ounces (50 grams) and it is 140 yards in length; the wool comes from our superfine Saxon Merino sheep and is hand-dyed with natural colors on the farm. Expect 5-6.5 stitches per inch using US 5-8/3.75-5.25 mm needles.

Available in the Naturally Dyed Yarn Store

Posted by: Eugene Wyatt
2/18/2016 6:03 am
Labels: Natural Dyes

Blue-Violet and Barn Red

4 oz (100 g), 110 yd, 4 stitches per inch on US 15.

Available in the Super Bulky Yarn Store.

Posted by: Eugene Wyatt
2/16/2016 1:33 pm

Spring 2016

"Interweave Knits just came out and we got the COVER!", Mary Anne Benedetto in email (February 2, 2016) to Dominique.

Mary Anne designed and knit the herringbone pullover on the cover (her pattern is on page 32) of Interweave Knits. She used our Catskill Merino Berry Sorbet, a Fingering weight Saxon Merino yarn,

2 ply, 2 oz (50 g), 225 yd, 7.5 stitches per inch on US 3

Not only is she a fine knitwear designer, she interfaced with Interweave Knits and 'got the cover' of the magazine. A very big thank you to Mary Anne ( for her knitting and work on the Catskill Pullover from all of us and the sheep too.

Posted by: Eugene Wyatt
2/7/2016 4:43 pm

Our soft Saxon Merino yarn in a Fingering weight.

2 ply, 2 oz (50 g), 225 yd, 7.5 stitches per inch on US 3.

Available in the Fingering Yarn Store.

Posted by: Eugene Wyatt
2/7/2016 4:40 pm
Labels: Fingering

Our 18 micron Saxon Merino ewes will be shorn the first Monday in March and will lamb two and a half weeks later.

Posted by: Eugene Wyatt
2/7/2016 4:01 pm
Labels: Sheep Journal