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.
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.