French Novelist, Critic and Essayist
Marcel Proust, fully Valentin Louis Georges Eugène Marcel Proust
French Novelist, Critic and Essayist
I had believed that I was leaving nothing out of account, like a rigorous analyst; I had believed that I knew the state of my own heart. But our intelligence, however lucid, cannot perceive the elements that compose it and remain unsuspected so long as, from the volatile state in which they generally exist, a phenomenon capable of isolating them has not subjected them to the first stages of solidification. I had been mistaken in thinking that I could see clearly into my own heart. But this knowledge, which the shrewdest perceptions of the mind would not have given me, had now been brought to me, hard, glittering, strange, like a crystallised salt, by the abrupt reaction of pain.
Until I saw Chardin's painting, I never realized how much beauty lay around me in my parents' house, in the half-cleared table, in the corner of a tablecloth left awry, in the knife beside the empty oyster shell.
We have nothing to fear and a great deal to learn from trees, that vigorous and pacific tribe which without stint produces strengthening essences for us, soothing balms, and in whose gracious company
We strive all the time to give our life its form, but we do so by copying willy-nilly, like a drawing, the features of the person that we are and not of the person we should like to be.
When nothing else subsists from the past, after the people are dead, after the things are broken and scattered...the smell and taste of things remain poised a long time, like souls...bearing resiliently, on tiny and almost impalpable drops of their essence, the immense edifice of memory
Works of art, like artesian wells, mount higher in proportion as the suffering has more deeply pierced the heart.
Very few people understand the purely subjective nature of the phenomenon that we call love, or how it creates, so to speak, a fresh, a third, a supplementary person, distinct from the person whom the world knows by the same name, a person most of whose constituent elements are derived from ourself, the lover.
We have such numerous interests in our lives that it is not uncommon, on a single occasion, for the foundations of a happiness that does not yet exist to be laid down alongside the intensification of a grief from which we are still suffering.
Well, how could a reader notice that? There may be something lacking there I admit. But heavens above, they ought to count themselves lucky! It's full enough of good things as it is, far more than they usually get.
When the mind has a tendency to dream, it is a mistake to keep dreams away from it, to ration its dreams. So long as you distract your mind from its dreams, it will not know them for what they are; you will always be being taken in by the appearance of things, because you will not have grasped their true nature. If a little dreaming is dangerous, the cure for it is not to dream less but to dream more, to dream all the time. One must have a thorough understanding of one
You cannot be surprised at anything men do, they're such brutes.
We always end up doing the thing we are second best at.
We imagine always when we speak that it is our own ears, our own mind, that are listening. The truth which one puts into one's words does not carve out a direct path for itself, it is not irresistibly self-evident. A considerable time must elapse before a truth of the same order can take shape in them.
What a profound significance small things assume when the woman we love conceals them from us.
When the Narrator learns of the sudden departure of Albertine (most likely his lover Agostinelli), he has again his 'souffle coup‚' [interrupted breathing]. The connection between asthma and the anxiety of separation is a well-known clinical fact. According to a recent review of the problems, the asthmatic attack... represents the repressed cry for the mother... The asthmatic person is frequently one with exaggerated dependence on mother. Everything which threatens to separate the patient from the protective mother is apt to precipitate an asthmatic attack.
You know Balbec so well - do you have friends in the area?'
We are able to find everything in our memory, which is like a dispensary or chemical laboratory in which chance steers our hand sometimes to a soothing drug and sometimes to a dangerous poison.
We made much less happy by the kindness of a great writer, which strictly speaking we find only in his books, than we suffer from the hostility of a woman whom we have not chosen for her intelligence, but whom we cannot stop ourselves from loving.
What an abyss of uncertainty whenever the mind feels that some part of it has strayed beyond its own borders; when it, the seeker, is at once the dark region through which it must go seeking, where all its equipment will avail it nothing. Seek? More than that: create. It is face to face with something which does not so far exist, to which it alone can give reality and substance, which it alone can bring into the light of day.
When we are in love with a woman we simply project on to her a state of our own soul; that consequently the important thing is not the worth of the women but the profundity of the state; and that the emotions which a perfectly ordinary girl arouses in us can enable us to bring to the surface of our consciousness some of the innermost parts of our being, more personal, more remote, more quintessential that any that might be evoked by the pleasure we derive from the conversation of a great man or even from the admiring contemplation of his work.
You may not have heard, Duke, that there is a new word to describe that sort of attitude, said the archivist, who was Secretary to the Committee against Reconsideration, One says 'mentality.' It means exactly the same thing, but it has the advantage that nobody knows what you're talking about. It's the ne plus ultra just now, the 'latest thing,' as they say.
We are all of us obliged, if we are to make reality endurable, to nurse a few little follies in ourselves.
We may talk for a lifetime without doing more than indefinitely repeat the vacuity of a minute.
What artists call posterity is the posterity of the work of art.
When we are in love, our love is too big a thing for us to be able altogether to contain it within ourselves. It radiates towards the loved one, finds there a surface which arrests it, forcing it to return to its starting-point, and it is this repercussion of our own feeling which we call the other's feelings and which charms us more then than on its outward journey because we do not recognize it as having originated in ourselves.