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Saturday July 4, 2015

In The Captive the Narrator sits down at the piano waiting for Françoise to bring back Albertine from the Trocadero where he feared that she might meet Lea. He starts to play Vinteuil and is reminded of Wagner and instead plays Tristan.

He muses about art...

Not factitious, perhaps indeed all the more real for being ulterior, for being born of a moment of enthusiasm when it is discovered to exist among fragments which need only to be joined together; a unity that was unaware of itself, hence vital and not logical, that did not prohibit variety, dampen invention.

p. 208

and then he muses about life (the situation in the novel with Albertine). Fictively, he is torn between one and the other...

Could it be this that gave to great artists the illusory aspect of a fundamental, irreducible originality, apparently the reflexion of a more than human reality, actually the result of industrious toil?

If art is no more than that, it is no more real than life and I had less cause for regret.

p. 209

La Prisonnière (1923, published posthumously) Marcel Proust; translated by C. K. Scott Moncrieff, Terrence Kilmartin & revised by D. J. Enright in 1923, 1981 and 1992 as The Captive.

My small library is mostly nonfiction—I prefer it to reading fiction. But À la recherche du temps perdue permits me to read both fiction and nonfiction in the same volume. When what is positively written about in À la recherche du temps perdue is philosophy, aesthetics, art, history, religion, politics and other real things that matter to him, the Narrator is generally the author, Marcel Proust.

The Narrator in the first quote is Marcel Proust—what he says is nonfiction; the Narrator in the second quote is also Marcel Proust but fictively posing as the 1st person reflective Narrator (writing from his point of view)—what he says is fiction.

Simon: Proust's Note 1 to Sésame et les lys,

... obeyed a kind of secret plan, unveiled at the end, that retroactively imposes a kind of order on the whole and makes it seem magnificently staged, right up to the climax of the final apotheosis.

echoes your quote from The Captive, and moreover, it is nonfiction,

... a unity that was unaware of itself, hence vital and not logical, that did not prohibit variety, dampen invention.

Posted by: Eugene Wyatt
7/1/2015 10:46 pm

Several times recently I've read the 35 pages of the Modern Library Edition of Within a Budding Grove: (p. 165-200) from the time of the luncheon at the Swanns with Bergotte to the time the Narrator gets out of the carriage at home that he shared with the author.

Some years ago I skimmed the passage the first time I read it. To tell you the truth, Bergotte bored me—I passed over the passage quickly and remembered little. But the plus to the situation was that when I read it again (or "for the first time" according to Proust on music, p. 140) it was fresh. I liked what Proust learned from the writing of Ruskin and I better liked Bergotte because Proust made him the axis of their stylistic interaction. Note 1 was published with Sésame et les Lys in 1906; À l'ombre de jeunes filles en fleurs (translated as Within a Budding Grove in 1922) was published in 1919 and was revised during the Great War of 1914 to 1918. Here are partial contents of Note 1:

He (Ruskin) moves from one idea to the next without any apparent order, but actually the imagination which leads him is following its own deep affinities and imposing a higher logic on him in spite of himself, to such an extent that at the end he finds himself to have obeyed a kind of secret plan, unveiled at the end, that retroactively imposes a kind of order on the whole and makes it seem magnificently staged, right up to the climax of the final apotheosis. 

Note 1 to the epigraph of John Ruskin's Sesame and Lilies that was translated and annotated by Marcel Proust in 1906.  It appears in On Reading translated by Damion Searls published in 2011.

There are other passages, to be sure; the one I singled out has mostly to do with Bergotte. In this passage I find that Proust, like his mentor Ruskin, stylistically "moves from one idea to the next without any apparent order", he "impose(s) a higher logic on him in spite of himself ... right up to the climax of the final apotheosis" and that was Bergotte in the carriage calling Mme Swann a "whore" (and its consequences for her husband) in spite of his being congenial to their faces. The Narrator was a little shocked at Bergotte's duplicity but I found it refreshing. 

Might I remind you that this is the same young Narrator who wouldn't eat caviare at the luncheon because he didn't know what it was. There is a music here and Proust has the advantage over the non-fictive Ruskin by writing with different Narrators: the younger 1st person active, the 3rd person omniscient or Marcel Proust and, here among indeterminate times, the older 1st person reflective:

Names, no doubt, are whimsical draughtsmen, giving us of people as well as of places sketches so unlike the reality that we often experience a kind of stupor when we have before our eyes, in place of the imagined, the visible world (which, for that matter, is not the real world, our senses being little more endowed than our imagination with the art of portraiture—so little, indeed, that the final and approximately lifelike pictures which we manage to obtain of reality are at least as different from the visible world as that was from the imagined).

Within a Budding Grove Marcel Proust 1919, translated by C. K. Scott Moncrieff, Terrence Kilmartin & revised by D. J. Enright in 1923, 1981 and 1992, p. 166.

Delightful, Marcel.

Unfortunately Ruskin looks like what he often appears to be—a fuddy duddy, without an editor, and a single nonfiction narrator, himself. Proust escapes this appellation by having an editor, writing fiction and with several narrators.

The Narrator who won't eat caviare and the one who speaks about "Names" above are the same person but separated by some years, much learning and the "secret plan, unveiled at the end".

I thank Sharon for putting Note 1 in the hand-out about Bergotte given to members of the discussion group that met on Jane St. Because of the handout, I reread the Bergotte passage from a different viewpoint.

And the opinions expressed are always my own. 

This is why one should read the actual texts of classical writers, and not be satisfied with excerpts or selections. Writers’ most famous pages are often those where this inner structure of their language is masked by the beauty of the excerpt, beauty of an almost universal character. 

Marcel Proust’s translation of John Ruskin's Sesame and Lilies and his preface On Reading were published in 1906. The introduction and translation of the preface, On Reading is by Damion Searls of the same title, published in 2011, p. 44.

Posted by: Eugene Wyatt
6/29/2015 3:25 pm

It seemed clear, however, that it really was he who had written the books that I had so loved, for Mme Swann having thought it incumbent upon her to tell him of my admiration for one of these, he showed no surprise that she should have mentioned this to him rather than to any other guest, and did not seem to regard it as due to a misapprehension, but, swelling out the frock-coat which he had put on in honour of all these distinguished guests with a body avid for the coming meal, while his mind was completely occupied by other, more important realities, it was only as at some finished episode in his life, and as though one had alluded to a costume as the Duc de Guise which he had worn, one season, at a fancy dress ball, that he smiled as he bore his mind back to the idea of his books; which at once began to fall in my estimation (bringing down with them the whole value of Beauty, of the world, of life itself), until they seemed to have been merely the casual recreation of a man with a goatee beard.

Within a Budding Grove Marcel Proust 1919, translated by C. K. Scott Moncrieff, Terrence Kilmartin & revised by D. J. Enright in 1923, 1981 and 1992, p. 167.

What initially attracted me to the sentence above was the places it goes and the persons it visits in 200 words, but when I  re-read it, I realized there are better examples in À la recherche du temps perdu of a traveling syntax than this. However this sentence was more appropriate to Saint-Simon's portrait of the Duc de Villars quoted on page 170 of Within a Budding Grove that began with a memoir-like description, "He was a rather tall man, dark ..." but the end of the citation 

“... and to tell the truth, a trifle mad” 

adds variety and is unexpected. What Saint-Simon said of Villars, in a small way, pertains to the Narrator's reversal of opinion on Bergotte's work: the love (of his books) becomes a loss of estimation (of their value), upon being disappointed—if not shocked—by meeting the author who had "a red nose curled like a snail shell and a goatee beard." Bergotte in reality was so unlike the Narrator's idealized idea of him. 

The first volume of À la recherche du temps perdu was published in 1913 but Contre Sainte-Beuve—written earlier—was unpublished; it is where Proust refuted the noted literary criticism of Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve (1804–69). From The Modernism Lab at Yale University:

Sainte-Beuve championed a biographical criticism that saw texts as morally and intellectually inseparable from their writers.

and, as one can see in regard to Bergottean idealized (inseparable by the Narrator)—yet imaginary—personal conception of the author particularly his physiognomy. Yet the story of the young Narrator is a bildungsroman that has a successful ending. Idealization is not unlike idolatry which Proust faulted Ruskin in his translation of The Bible of AmiensExamples of the young Narrator's idealization: think of his disappointment seeing Berma for the first time; think of him confessing to Elstir how wanting the Balbec church was when he finally saw it, etc.

What of the corrective storytelling by the Narrator as an older, reflective person of the foibles of his youth in regard to Berma. To reflect on these errors is to have dealt with them and to say as Lady Macbeth said, What's done is done.

Sainte-Beuve is quoted by Proust in Contre Sainte-Beuve which is included in Marcel Proust on Art and Literature: 1896–1919, by Sylvia Townsend Warner, p. 99.

So long as one has not asked an author a certain number of questions ... What were his religious views? How did he react to the sight of nature? How did he conduct himself in regard to women, in regard to money? Was he rich, was he poor?

Was he snail-shell nosed; did he have a goatee, etc? I wonder, am I correct in comparing the erroneous valuation process of the young Narrator to Sainte-Beuve—well maybe—but I do feel secure in applying the style of Saint-Simon to Proust such that the writing syntactically equates Villars with the Narrator. Anyway...

When Proust found the composite way of storytelling (the reflective Narrator) that he would use in the novel, he could write À la recherche du temps perdu as we know it.

Posted by: Eugene Wyatt
6/24/2015 5:17 pm

On page 98 of the Modern Library edition of Within a Budding Grove the Narrator, who was ill, received an invitation to tea from Gilberte. Her letter cheered him and was to become an object of reverie; like Leonardo said of painting, the letter was a cosa mentale. The Narrator longed for admittance to the Swann household and now the doors were open to him. When he received the letter he reread it every few minutes and kissed it.

Beginning the second volume of À la recherche du temps perdu, we notice that Swann has changed: among other things, he married Odette, he has a daughter, he's proud of the wives of lowly governmental ministers who call on his outcast wife and, contrary to his very discreet former-self, he has the "... habit of crying aloud from the house-tops the name of everyone he knew, however slightly ..." so says the Narrator's father.

But Swann is unchanged too. He is good and continues to be good over the years; he is probably the best and most consistent character in À la recherche du temps perdu. His goodness is apparent when we first meet him in Combray in the garden talking to the Narrator in Swann's Way, and it continues in the digression called Swann in Love (where he courts Odette) to his last appearance in the novel in Sodom and Gomorrah where he announces to the Duke and, the soon-to-be-red-shoed, Duchess his sickness and impending death. 

In Swann in Love he believed that if he waited until he no longer loved Odette, he will no longer be jealous and the vindictive actions he had planned when jealous will disappear as his love disappeared. We heard this reasoning then, and we hear it now,

But whereas at that other time he had made a vow that if ever he ceased to love the woman who, though he did not then know it, was to be his future wife, he would show her an implacable indifference that would at last be sincere, in order to avenge his pride that had so long been humiliated, now that he could enforce those reprisals without risk to himself (for what harm could it do him to be taken at his word and deprived of those intimate moments with Odette that had once been so necessary to him?), he no longer wished to do so; with his love had vanished the desire to show that he no longer loved.

Within a Budding Grove Marcel Proust 1919, translated by C. K. Scott Moncrieff, Terrence Kilmartin & revised by D. J. Enright in 1923, 1981 and 1992, p. 134.

One could argue that Saint-Loup bests Swann as a good person. But late Saint-Loup is not the person he was earlier in Balbec—where we loved him. 

À la recherche du temps perdu is a delicate interweaving of facts and relations from its seven volumes. The reader becomes a detective and she discovers what Proust had in mind according to her social personalty...but only after a subsequent reading.

From the goodnight kiss episode in Swann's Way,

I imagined that Swann would have laughed heartily at it if he had read my letter and had guessed its purpose; whereas, on the contrary, as I was to learn in due course, a similar anguish had been the bane of his life for many years, and no one perhaps could have understood my feelings at that moment so well as he; to him, the anguish that comes from knowing that the creature one adores is in some place of enjoyment where oneself is not and cannot follow...

Swann's Way Marcel Proust 1913, translated by C. K. Scott Moncrieff, Terrence Kilmartin & revised by D. J. Enright in 1923, 1981 and 1992, p. 40.

The young Narrator was sent upstairs; he was ostracized from his mother and her goodnight kiss the evening that Swann came to dine in Combray. (The Pain of Exclusion from Scientific American in DelanceyPlace is telling.)

Being excluded was what happened in Within a Budding Grove at Swann's house. With the Narrator in the drawing room, Gilberte would "often" go up to another room (for a reason that is not explained). By Gilberte's leaving, the Narrator experienced the empty, ostracized feeling that Swann had known courting Odette,

...the anguish that comes from knowing that the creature one adores is in some place of enjoyment where oneself is not and cannot follow...

Swann felt and knew the pain the Narrator suffered being a compassionate person; and I suspect, because of that, he confided the story of Swann in Love to him, if I may be so fictional.

From Within a Budding Grove

I was radiant with happiness in this house where Gilberte, when she was not yet with us, was about to appear and would bestow on me in a moment, and for hours to come, her speech, her smiling and attentive gaze as I had glimpsed it for the first time at Combray. At the most I was a trifle jealous when I saw her so often disappear into vast rooms above, reached by an interior staircase. Obliged myself to remain in the drawing-room, like a man in love with an actress who is confined to his stall and wonders anxiously what is going on behind the scenes, in the green-room, I put to Swann some artfully veiled questions with regard to this other part of the house, but in a tone from which I could not succeed in banishing a slight uneasiness. He explained to me that the room to which Gilberte had gone was the linen-room, offered to show it to me himself, and promised me that whenever Gilberte had occasion to go there again he would insist on her taking me with her. By these last words and the relief which they brought me, Swann at once abolished for me one of those terrifying inner perspectives at the end of which a woman with whom we are in love appears so remote. At that moment I felt for him an affection which I believed to be deeper than my affection for Gilberte. For he, his daughter’s master, was giving her to me, whereas she withheld herself at times; I had not the same direct control over her as I had indirectly through Swann. Besides, it was she whom I loved and whom I could not therefore see without that anxiety, without that desire for something more, which destroys in us, in the presence of the person we love, the sensation of loving.

Within a Budding Grove Marcel Proust 1919, translated by C. K. Scott Moncrieff, Terrence Kilmartin & revised by D. J. Enright in 1923, 1981 and 1992, p. 138-139.

My emphasis.

Posted by: Eugene Wyatt
6/14/2015 12:21 pm

Bernard Palissy 1510-1590

On long drives I listen to À la recherche du temps perdu [Remembance of Things Past] read by Neville Jason on Audible.com and when I hear a passage that interests me, I bookmark it in the Naxos Edition and type a note to distinguish it from other bookmarks. At home, I replay the bookmarked portion and select a relatively unique search word but common enough to be included in both the Moncrieff translation—which Jason reads—and the Modern Library translation which is on my iPhone in a Kindle version. Searching for "shrimps", I found the passage below and this gave me the page number or location. On my iPhone, I emailed it to myself on my iMac so I could read it at my leisure on a larger screen or easily put it in my blog, etc.

Marcel Proust gives us aspects of fellow-feeling in a novel where homosexuality is an important topic. In the passage that I selected, he brackets a food description (food interests me being a farmer) with his description of men talking: they were sheltered from the others (the troopers who were dining there) by the imposing veils of one of those instinctive likings between men which, when they are not based on physical attraction, are the only kind that is altogether mysterious. I wanted Proust to elaborate further on these instinctive likings between men...perhaps he will later on.

The seafood in France is now called Fruits de Mer but it may have not been called that then; he likens the dish to the work of an interesting early French potter, whom I didn't know, Bernard Palissy.

Palissy failed to discover the secret of Chinese porcelain, but invented a style of rustic pottery, called "Palissy ware," for which he is now famous. The pottery is decorated with reliefs mimicking wildlife from Palissy's native Saintonge marshes, and includes fish, crustaceans, reptiles, ferns and flowers.

From Wikipedia.

~

At Doncières where Saint-Loup and his fellow troopers take their mess,

On the third evening, one of (Saint-Loup's) friends, to whom I had not had an opportunity of speaking before, conversed with me at great length; and at one point I overheard him telling Saint-Loup how much he was enjoying himself. And indeed we sat talking together almost the entire evening, leaving our glasses of Sauterne untouched on the table before us, separated, sheltered from the others by the imposing veils of one of those instinctive likings between men which, when they are not based on physical attraction, are the only kind that is altogether mysterious.

The Guermantes Way 1922 by Marcel Proust; translated by C. K. Scott Moncrieff 1925, Terence Kilmartin and revised by D. J. Enright, p. 133.

I felt cut off—not only from the great icy darkness which stretched out into the distance and in which we could hear from time to time the whistle of a train which only accentuated the pleasure of being there, or the chimes of an hour still happily distant from that at which these young men would have to buckle on their sabres and go—but also from all external preoccupations, almost from the memory of Mme de Guermantes, by the kindness of Saint-Loup, to which that of his friends, reinforcing it, gave, so to speak, a greater solidity; by the warmth, too, of that little dining-room, by the savour of the exquisite dishes that were set before us. These gave as much pleasure to my imagination as to my palate; sometimes the little piece of nature from which they had been extracted, the rugged holy-water stoup of the oyster in which lingered a few drops of brackish water, or the gnarled stem, the yellowed branches of a bunch of grapes, still enveloped them, inedible, poetic and distant as a landscape, evoking as we dined successive images of a siesta in the shade of a vine or of an excursion on the sea; on other evenings it was the cook alone who brought out these original properties of the viands, presenting them in their natural setting, like works of art, and a fish cooked in a court-bouillon was brought in on a long earthenware platter, on which, standing out in relief on a bed of bluish herbs, intact but still contorted from having been dropped alive into boiling water, surrounded by a ring of satellite shell-fish, of animalcules, crabs, shrimps and mussels, it had the appearance of a ceramic dish by Bernard Palissy.

“I’m furiously jealous,” Saint-Loup said to me, half laughing, half in earnest, alluding to the interminable conversations apart which I had been having with his friend. “Is it because you find him more intelligent than me? Do you like him better than me? Ah, well, I suppose he’s everything now, and no one else is to have a look in!” (Men who are enormously in love with a woman, who live in a society of woman-lovers, allow themselves pleasantries which others, seeing less innocence in them, would never dare to contemplate.)

So rare Marcel. 

The Guermantes Way 1922 by Marcel Proust; translated by C. K. Scott Moncrieff 1925, Terence Kilmartin and revised by D. J. Enright, p. 151.

Posted by: Eugene Wyatt
6/3/2015 5:42 pm

An abridged version of La mort des cathédrals was published in Pastiches et Mélanges 1919 by Marcel Proust. In 1948 Gerard Hopkins translated it as The Death of Cathedrals and included it in Marcel Proust, A Selection from his miscellaneous Writings.  

Here is a note by Marcel Proust on the abridgment included in Pastiches et Mélanges and translated by Gerard Hopkins:

This is the title of an essay which I once published in the Figaro, with the object of combatting one of the clauses in the Act which set the seal upon the Separation of Church and State. It was a mediocre affair, and I reprint here only a short extract from it, to show how, even after the shortest of intervals, words change their meanings; and how, in the twists and turns of life, we can no more foresee the future of nations than we can of individuals. When I spoke of death coming to the cathedrals, I feared that France was to be transformed into a beach strewn with vast heaps of chiseled shells, emptied of the life that once filled them, and no longer bringing to the listening ear the sounds that formerly they held; mere museum-pieces, frozen and dead. Ten years have passed. Death has come to the fabric of our Cathedrals at the hands of the German armies, but not to their spirit as the result of the activities of an anti-clerical Chamber which now stands solidly united with our patriot bishops. 

Marcel Proust, A Selection from his miscellaneous Writings 1948 by Gerard Hopkins is available at AbeBooks

Posted by: Eugene Wyatt
5/26/2015 5:34 pm
Labels: Marcel Proust

At the age when Names, offering us an image of the unknowable which we have poured into their mould, while at the same moment connoting for us also a real place, force us accordingly to identify one with the other to such a point that we set out to seek in a city for a soul which it cannot enshrine but which we have no longer the power to expel from its name, it is not only to towns and rivers that they give an individuality, as do allegorical paintings, it is not only the physical universe which they speckle with differences, people with marvels, it is the social universe also; and so every historic house, in town or country, has its lady or its fairy, as every forest has its genie, every stream its deity.

The Guermantes Way 1922 by Marcel Proust; translated by C. K. Scott Moncrieff 1925, Terence Kilmartin and revised by D. J. Enright, p. 3.

I noticed this sentence for its expressed impossibility. Listen to a fragment from it: "...offering us an image of the unknowable..." but offering us an image of the unknowable makes it known, on one handdoesn't it. Proust's syntax is from a mostly realistic novel, À la recherche du temps perdu. But on the other hand, we can normalize this fragment to not find it impossible and still we find it somewhat implausible with very correct but disparite meanings like the Narrator's loves for Albertine where, as some would say, he metaphorically plucks the petals of a daisy and muses, "I love her, I love her not..."

~

Proust discusses new art, specifically music he loved, Beethoven's Late Quartets:

The reason why a work of genius (art) is not easily admired from the first is that the man who has created it is extraordinary, that few other men resemble him. 

By this thought on Beethoven and others Proust makes on his fictional artists (Bergotte, Vinteuil, Elstir), I was reminded of the title of a 1980 book The Shock of the New by Robert Hughes. By the way, the book arrived today; I wonder if Hughes credits Proust with his concept or, much less, with his title; but perhaps the idea  predates Proust.

...

It was Beethoven’s quartets themselves (the Twelfth, Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth) that devoted half a century to forming, fashioning and enlarging the audience for Beethoven’s quartets, thus marking, like every great work of art, an advance if not in the quality of artists at least in the community of minds, largely composed today of what was not to be found when the work first appeared, that is to say of persons capable of appreciating it.

Within a Budding Grove 1919 by Marcel Proust; translated by C. K. Scott Moncrieff 1922, Terence Kilmartin and revised by D. J. Enright, p. 142.

A "community of minds..."

~

With a wink, I subscribe to Groucho Marx's adage about clubs—that he wouldn't belong to any organization that would accept him as a member—yet, teasing aside, I have that specific Proustian difficulty—that of reading—I find little to read after reading Proust.

Posted by: Eugene Wyatt
5/22/2015 7:44 pm

At the age when Names, offering us an image of the unknowable which we have poured into their mould, while at the same moment connoting for us also a real place, force us accordingly to identify one with the other to such a point that we set out to seek in a city for a soul which it cannot enshrine but which we have no longer the power to expel from its name, it is not only to towns and rivers that they give an individuality, as do allegorical paintings, it is not only the physical universe which they speckle with differences, people with marvels, it is the social universe also; and so every historic house, in town or country, has its lady or its fairy, as every forest has its genie, every stream its deity.

The Guermantes Way Marcel Proust translated by C. K. Scott Moncrieff 1925, Terence Kilmartin and revised by D. J. Enright, p. 3.

The bold face is used to mark the subject and the verb and it marks the predicate that makes the sentence periodic.

Last Saturday I was at the Coffee Shop on 16th Street and Union Square West and I said to Sharon Girard and Marcelita Swann, two charming Proustians, "I began reading Proust because he writes difficult sentences." 

O Sharon I do agree with you; to determine the subject and the verb of a sentence helps in understanding the meaning in some of Marcel Proust's sentences; in addition, when I started reading À la recherche du temps perdu, I broke the sentence down by its parentheticals (its modifiers, its phrases, its clauses: see below) as that made the identification of subject and verb easier and the sentence more understandable.

Proust's sentence is a period, (periodos = a circuit, a race course in Greek of the time) made famous by the Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 BC - 43 BC), and is not complete until "has its lady or its fairy" makes the meaning of the sentence.  

... the decline of the periodic sentence's popularity goes hand in hand with the development toward a less formal style, which some authors date to the beginning of the Romantic period (~1800) ...

From Wikipedia: Periodic sentence.

Marcel Proust's Les Plaisirs et les Jours (1896) was written more or less in the Romantic style; but let's go forward in time and backward at once before the Romantics into Proust's Grand Style writing of À la recherche du temps perdu (1913 - 1927).

 

At the age when Names,

offering us an image of the unknowable which we have poured into their mould,

while at the same moment connoting for us also a real place,

force us accordingly to identify one with the other to such a point that we set out to seek in a city for a soul which it cannot enshrine but which we have no longer the power to expel from its name,

it is not only to towns and rivers that they give an individuality,

as do allegorical paintings,

it is not only the physical universe which they speckle with differences,

people with marvels,

it is the social universe also;

and so every historic house,

in town or country,

has its lady or its fairy,

as every forest has its genie,

every stream its deity.

The Guermantes Way Marcel Proust translated by C. K. Scott Moncrieff 1925, Terence Kilmartin and revised by D. J. Enright, p. 3.

Note that the 1st volume ends with the subsection entitled Noms de Pays: Le Nom and the 2nd volume ends with the subsection entitled Noms de Pays: Le Pays. We are in the 3rd volume and talk about Noms still, so important it was for Proust.

 

A l'âge où lesNoms, nous offrant l'image de l'inconnaissable que nous avons versé en eux, dans le même moment où ils désignent aussi pour nous un lieu réel, nous forcent par là à identifier l'un à l'autre au point que nous partons chercher dans une cité une âme qu'elle ne peut contenir mais que nous n'avons plus le pouvoir d'expulser de son nom, ce n'est pas seulement aux villes et aux fleuves qu'ils donnent une individualité, comme le font les peintures allégoriques, ce n'est pas seulement l'univers physique qu'ils diaprent de différences, qu'ils peuplent de merveilleux, c'est aussi l'univers social: alors chaque château, chaque hôtel ou palais fameux sa dame, ou sa fée, comme les forêts leurs génies et leurs divinités les eaux.

Le Côté de Guermantes Marcel Proust 1920, p. 3.

Posted by: Eugene Wyatt
5/19/2015 9:28 pm

We have the Narrator summarizing social personality after first reporting what his family knows and thinks about Charles Swann, thereby creating him. This is 3rd person narration—the speaker is the Narrator. 

But then, even in the most insignificant details of our daily life, none of us can be said to constitute a material whole, which is identical for everyone, and need only be turned up like a page in an account-book or the record of a will; our social personality is a creation of the thoughts of other people.

Swann's Way Vol. 1 Marcel Proust 1913 translated by Moncrieff, Kilmartin and revised by Enright, p. 23.

Below we have 1st person narration; the speaker is also one-in-the-same but he is reflective, and a more mature Narrator—it is a different time. He speaks about what he knows of the real and imaginary Albertine. You are inside the thought process of the Narrator.

What did I know of Albertine? One or two glimpses of a profile against the sea, less beautiful, assuredly, than those of Veronese’s women whom I ought, had I been guided by purely aesthetic reasons, to have preferred to her. By what other reasons could I be guided, since, my anxiety having subsided, I could recapture only those mute profiles, possessing nothing else? Since my first sight of Albertine I had thought about her endlessly, I had carried on with what I called by her name an interminable inner dialogue in which I made her question and answer, think and act, and in the infinite series of imaginary Albertines who followed one after the other in my fancy hour by hour, the real Albertine, glimpsed on the beach, figured only at the head, just as the actress who “creates” a role, the star, appears, out of a long series of performances, in the few first alone. That Albertine was scarcely more than a silhouette, all that had been superimposed upon her being of my own invention, to such an extent when we love does the contribution that we ourselves make outweigh—even in terms of quantity alone—those that come to us from the beloved object.

Within a Budding Grove Vol. 2,  Marcel Proust 1919 translated by Moncrieff, Kilmartin and revised by Enright, p.  597.

"Social personality" makes sense of how characters in the novel change viewed from different points and persons. On p. 698 of Within a Budding Grove there is more 1st person narration (in the voice of the Narrator) talking about the real and imagined Gilberte and Albertine. Proust's definition of social personality is of great import to the reading of the novel and entering his fictional world. There is little fixity in real life and less in fiction factoring in unreliability both real and imaginary.

My emphasis.

Posted by: Eugene Wyatt
5/13/2015 6:17 pm

When I reflect now that, on our return from Balbec, Albertine had come to live in Paris under the same roof as myself, that she had abandoned the idea of going on a cruise, that she was installed in a bedroom within twenty paces of my own, at the end of the corridor, in my father’s tapestried study, and that late every night, before leaving me, she used to slide her tongue between my lips like a portion of daily bread, a nourishing food that had the almost sacred character of all flesh upon which the sufferings that we have endured on its account have come in time to confer a sort of spiritual grace, what I at once call to mind in comparison is not the night that Captain de Borodino allowed me to spend in barracks, a favour which cured what was after all only a passing distemper, but the night on which my father sent Mamma to sleep in the little bed beside mine.

The Captive Vol. 6, translated by Moncrieff 1929, Kilmartin 1981 and revised by Enright 1992, p. 1.

The Narrator compares the night that he and Albertine kiss (sexually attractive and spritually alluring) not with the night "that Captain de Borodino allowed (him) to spend in barracks" but the night that his "father sent Mamma to sleep" in the young Narrator's room and that occurs in the Combray section of Vol. 1, Swann's Way p. ~39 ff in the C. K. Scott Moncrieff translation edited by William C. Carter. 

It is a comparison of nights. When Albertine kisses the Narrator goodnight, which is likened to communion, a sense of belonging and of distance too. The kiss is in a sentence fragment in Vol. 6 and is compared to the night of the Goodnight Kiss which is multifaceted and encompasses ten pages of Vol. 1.

Guilt...the Narrator feels about Mamma that childhood night, "I felt that I had with an impious and secret finger traced a first wrinkle upon her soul and brought out a first white hair on her head. This thought redoubled my sobs ..." The child wanted to have Mamma kiss him goodnight but he didn't want to have her abdicate her power by sleeping in the same bedroom as him at the father's insistence.

One wants to be a child as long as one can be, growing up can be very cold. And the power of womanhood in the 19th century was less than that of manhood but certainly more than that of childhood. "At the father's insistence,"—then, was not the father the king of his castle; a king heeds no "principles" and for him there is no "rule of law"—he can say to his wife as if speaking to a vassal, "Go along with the child..." This is to specify the difference in behaviors between then and now, not to measure time past by time present.

The kiss is about growing up and has a sense of moral sweetness to it; communion comes later as the older Narrator reflects on the Goodnight Kiss episode (in the episode itself)* which contains one of the most beautiful and wistful passages in the book—it is communion itself. I will include the passage under its own entry entitled, "Sobs".

*In the writing of this piece I began to see the age (or ages) of the Narrator as continuous, not as distinct, as I'd somewhat understood the storyteller before. This enables the acrobatic Proust more free play when choosing the age (or person) to narrate from and it seems more natural in the storytelling.

 ~

Quand je pense maintenant que mon amie était venue, à notre retour de Balbec, habiter à Paris sous le même toit que moi, qu'elle avait renoncé à l'idée d'aller faire une croisière, qu'elle avait sa chambre à vingt pas de la mienne, au bout du couloir, dans le cabinet à tapisseries de mon père, et que chaque soir, fort tard, avant de me quitter, elle glissait dans ma bouche sa langue, comme un pain quotidien, comme un aliment nourrissant et ayant le caractère presque sacré de toute chair à qui les souffrances que nous avons endurées à cause d'elle ont fini par conférer une sorte de douceur morale, ce que j'évoque aussitôt par comparaison, ce n'est pas la nuit que le capitaine de Borodino me permit de passer au quartier, par une faveur qui ne guérissait en somme qu'un malaise éphémère, mais celle où mon père envoya maman dormir dans le petit lit à côté du mien.

La prisonnière Vol. 6, Marcel Proust 1923 p. 1.

My emphasis.

Posted by: Eugene Wyatt
5/3/2015 7:25 pm
Labels: Proust

It is a long time, too, since my father has been able to tell Mamma to “Go with the child.” Never again will such hours be possible for me. But of late I have been increasingly able to catch, if I listen attentively, the sound of the sobs that I had the strength to control in my father’s presence, and that broke out only when I found myself alone with Mamma. In reality, their echo has never ceased: and it is only because life is now growing more and more quiet around about me that I hear them afresh, like those convent bells that are so effectively drowned out during the day by the noises of the streets that one would suppose them to have been stopped forever, until they sound out again through the silent evening air.

Swann's Way Vol. 1 Marcel Proust translated by C. K. Scott Moncrieff 1924 and edited by William C. Carter 2014, p. 42.

Proust likens the Narrator's sobs to convent bells, not only is that simile fresh but it relates sexuality to spritually and that undercurrent flows through À la recherche du temps perdu, not to mention the church itself.

Posted by: Eugene Wyatt
5/2/2015 12:50 pm
Labels: Proust, Sobs

When I reflect now that, on our return from Balbec, Albertine had come to live in Paris under the same roof as myself, that she had abandoned the idea of going on a cruise, that she was installed in a bedroom within twenty paces of my own, at the end of the corridor, in my father’s tapestried study, *and that late every night, before leaving me, she used to slide her tongue between my lips like a portion of daily bread, a nourishing food that had the almost sacred character of all flesh upon which the sufferings that we have endured on its account have come in time to confer a sort of spiritual grace, what I at once call to mind in comparison is not the night that Captain de Borodino allowed me to spend in barracks, a favour which cured what was after all only a passing distemper, but the night on which my father sent Mamma to sleep in the little bed beside mine.

The Captive Vol. 6, translated by Moncrieff 1929, Kilmartin 1981 and revised by Enright 1992, p. 1.

The initial clauses, she...lives under the same roof, abandoned a cruise, sleeps 20 paces from me ... are in parataxis, consequently they have no subordination one to another, but the following phrases and clauses, ... *and that late every night, before leaving me, she used to slide her tongue between my lips like a portion of daily bread, a nourishing food that had the almost sacred character of all flesh upon which the sufferings that we have endured on its account have come in time to confer a sort of spiritual grace ... are in hypotaxis. The interrelations of structure are subordinate to one another. They can't be changed, as you can with the initial paratactic structures, or you will alter the meaning.

This sentence is what is called "... either a partial period or a compromise between the loose and the periodic sentence." Composition and Literature: A Rhetoric for Critical Writing, Rosanna Grassi 1984.

A good prose writer will seek variation between the loose, periodic and partial in sentence structures. We find it many times over in À la recherche de temps perdu.

We will talk of the comparisons the Narrator makes about this kiss of Albertine when we talk of the novel’s spiritual passages.  

Quand je pense maintenant que mon amie était venue, à notre retour de Balbec, habiter à Paris sous le même toit que moi, qu'elle avait renoncé à l'idée d'aller faire une croisière, qu'elle avait sa chambre à vingt pas de la mienne, au bout du couloir, dans le cabinet à tapisseries de mon père, *et que chaque soir, fort tard, avant de me quitter, elle glissait dans ma bouche sa langue, comme un pain quotidien, comme un aliment nourrissant et ayant le caractère presque sacré de toute chair à qui les souffrances que nous avons endurées à cause d'elle ont fini par conférer une sorte de douceur morale, ce que j'évoque aussitôt par comparaison, ce n'est pas la nuit que le capitaine de Borodino me permit de passer au quartier, par une faveur qui ne guérissait en somme qu'un malaise éphémère, mais celle où mon père envoya maman dormir dans le petit lit à côté du mien.

La prisonnière Vol. 6, Marcel Proust 1923 p. 1.

*My Emphasis.

Posted by: Eugene Wyatt
4/27/2015 6:46 pm

From Within a Budding Grove Vol. 2 translated by Moncrieff, Kilmartin and revised by Enright (1924, 1981, 1992), p. 592.

I was accompanying Elstir back to his villa when suddenly, as it were Mephistopheles springing up before Faust, there appeared at the end of the avenue—like a simple objectification, unreal and diabolical, of the temperament diametrically opposed to my own, of the semi-barbarous and cruel vitality of which I, in my weakness, my excess of tortured sensibility and intellectuality, was so destitute—a few spots of the essence impossible to mistake for anything else, a few spores of the zoophytic band of girls, who looked as though they had not seen me but were unquestionably engaged in passing a sarcastic judgment on me.

A playful periodic sentence. After several subordinate clauses and phrases that modify the main idea: "... there appeared at the end of the avenue— ... a few spores of the zoophytic band of girls ..." that thus completes the principle idea.

But lo and behold—behind that—two relative clauses in a loose sentence structure: "... who looked as though they had not seen me but were unquestionably engaged in passing a sarcastic judgment on me." The sentence could go on and on adding more modifiers as cumulative or loose sentences do, or have them cut from the sentence and maintain its basic meaning, which is a loose sentence’s aspect.

Posted by: Eugene Wyatt
4/27/2015 6:18 pm

Proust's sentence—from the previous blog entry entitled Madame Swann At Home that I exemplify here a second time—is a periodic sentence as many of Marcel Proust's in À la recherche de temps perdu are; but the sentence makes use of the subordination of hypotaxis, the subject of the previous entry.

Les jours où Mme Swann n'était pas sortie du tout, on la trouvait dans une robe de chambre de crêpe de Chine, blanche comme une première neige, parfois aussi dans un de ces longs tuyautages de mousseline de soie, qui ne semblent qu'une jonchée de pétales roses ou blancs et qu'on trouverait aujourd'hui peu appropriés à l'hiver, et bien à tort. Car ces étoffes légères et ces couleurs tendres donnaient à la femme—dans la grande chaleur des salons d'alors fermés de portières et desquels ce que les romanciers mondains de l'époque trouvaient à dire de plus élégant, c'est qu'ils étaient «douillettement capitonnés»—le même air frileux qu'aux roses, qui pouvaient y rester à côté d'elle, malgré l'hiver, dans l'incarnat de leur nudité, comme au printemps.

À l'ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs Vol. 2, Marcel Proust (1919)

From Wikipedia: Periodic Sentence

"A periodic sentence is a stylistic device employed at the sentence level, described as one that is not complete grammatically or semantically before the final clause or phrase.

The periodic sentence emphasizes its main idea by placing it at the end, following all the subordinate clauses and other modifiers that support the principal idea.

The sentence unfolds gradually, so that the thought contained in the subject/verb group only emerges at the sentence's conclusion.

It is the opposite of the loose sentence, also continuous or running style, where the subject and verb are introduced at the beginning of the sentence.

Periodic sentences often rely on hypotaxis, whereas running sentences are typified by parataxis.

Cicero is generally considered to be the master of the periodic sentence."

On days when Mme Swann had not left the house, one found her in a crêpe-de-Chine dressing-gown, white as the first snows of winter, or, it might be, in one of those long pleated chiffon garments, which looked like nothing so much as a shower of pink or white petals, and would be regarded today as highly inappropriate for winter—though quite wrongly, for these light fabrics and soft colours gave to a woman— in the stifling warmth of the drawing-rooms of those days, with their heavily curtained doors, rooms of which the most elegant thing that the society novelists of the time could find to say was that they were "cosily padded”*—the same air of coolness that they gave to the roses which were able to stay in the room there beside nudity, as though it were already spring.

Within a Budding Grove Vol. 2 translated by Moncrieff, Kilmartin and revised by Enright (1924, 1981, 1992), p. 232.

I would have translated the latter portion of the sentence differently—but either way it remains a period:

*—the same air chilled the roses beside her—in spite of the Winter—which were the pinkness of their nudity in Spring.

In Proust's sentence we have a periodic structure that requires a known ending of the sentence (by the writer) in the writing of the sentence. Proust's sentence isn't complete, or makes sense, until the last word or phrase is uttered. This makes it a period. "Spring" or one of its synonyms had to be known by Marcel Proust in his drafting the sentence.  It makes the sentence easier to read by having 'a little bit of his madness', to know upon the reading of it what he supposed when he wrote it.

*My emphasis.

Posted by: Eugene Wyatt
4/26/2015 1:37 pm

At random I selected a sentence from Within a Budding Grove. It is 145 words long; not a long sentence for Marcel Proust writing À la recherche du temps perdu.

Les jours où Mme Swann n'était pas sortie du tout, on la trouvait dans une robe de chambre de crêpe de Chine, blanche comme une première neige, parfois aussi dans un de ces longs tuyautages de mousseline de soie, qui ne semblent qu'une jonchée de pétales roses ou blancs et qu'on trouverait aujourd'hui peu appropriés à l'hiver, et bien à tort. Car ces étoffes légères et ces couleurs tendres donnaient à la femme—dans la grande chaleur des salons d'alors fermés de portières et desquels ce que les romanciers mondains de l'époque trouvaient à dire de plus élégant, c'est qu'ils étaient «douillettement capitonnés»*—le même air frileux qu'aux roses, qui pouvaient y rester à côté d'elle, malgré l'hiver, dans l'incarnat de leur nudité, comme au printemps. 

À l'ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs, Marcel Proust (1919)

 

On days when Mme Swann had not left the house, one found her in a crêpe-de-Chine dressing-gown, white as the first snows of winter, or, it might be, in one of those long pleated chiffon garments, which looked like nothing so much as a shower of pink or white petals, and would be regarded today as highly inappropriate for winter—though quite wrongly, for these light fabrics and soft colours gave to a woman— in the stifling warmth of the drawing-rooms of those days, with their heavily curtained doors, rooms of which the most elegant thing that the society novelists of the time could find to say was that they were "cosily padded”—the same air of coolness that they gave to the roses which were able to stay in the room there beside nudity, as though it were already spring.

Within a Budding Grove translated as by Moncrieff, Kilmartin and revised by Enright (1924, 1981, 1992); the page number, p. 232, is from the Modern Library Edition. 

In 1907, when Proust was 36, letters from friends about his articles in Le Figaro mention complimentarily his sentence length. It seems that a new style—a new voice—for Marcel Proust involved the lengthening of his sentences

In comparison let's look anecdotally at Les Plaisirs et les Jours, Proust's collection of prose poems and novellas published 11 years earlier when he was 25.

Skipping the science we may say, as his contemporaries said, "we have a good idea" that M. Proust has changed his writing style. Even though I haven't read Les Plaisirs et les Jours completely it has sentences that—as a rule of thumb—are shorter than those in À la recherche du temps perdu.

According to William C. Carter, his biographer, Proust replies in 1907 to a confident, Mme Strauss, and he wishes he could be more succinct as she is in her writing—one thinks that already his style must have changed as apologies always come after the fact.

Proust was schooled in rhetoric as were all schoolboys at his level in the late 19th century. Rhetorically, Proust made his sentences longer—but by not turning his back on classical rhetoric and Cicero as was the Romantic mode of the day—with the usage of hypotactic parentheticals (I suspect their usage is innate in a writer—but even if it's not—we should call this rhetorical syntax by its name: hypotaxis); an opposite of sorts is called parataxis and they may be best defined by examining their difference: 

In hypotaxis, the sentences, clauses and phrases are subordinated and linked. However, in parataxis the phrases, clauses and sentences are not subordinated or coordinated.

From Literary Devices

My source for the following two examples is Richard A. Lantham's Analyzing Prose 1983. From Gaius Julius Caesar (100 BC - 44 BC) a famous example of parataxis,

Veni, vidi, vici. [I came, I saw, I conquered

and from Ernest Hemingway's Farewell To Arms 1929:

Now in the fall the trees were all bare and the roads were muddy. I rode to Gorizia from Udine on a camion. We passed other camions on the road and I looked at the country. The mulberry trees were bare and the fields were brown. ...

No subordination, everything is equal.

From the quoted passage of À la recherche du temps perdu above is an example of hypotaxis,

... it might be, in one of those long pleated chiffon garments, which looked like nothing so much as a shower of pink or white petals, and would be regarded today as highly inappropriate for winter ...

One clause is subordinated to another; there are dependencies of phrase and inequality of syntax is the norm.

It appears that people who describe a hierarchical situation: a youth describing growing up; an aristocracy; a social milieu of which one finds people above one and people below, can make use of hypotaxis and Marcel Proust has described all three.

Posted by: Eugene Wyatt
4/22/2015 1:12 pm