French Novelist, Critic and Essayist
Marcel Proust, fully Valentin Louis Georges Eugène Marcel Proust
French Novelist, Critic and Essayist
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.
The most exclusive love for a person is always a love for something else.
The painter Elstir [tried] to reproduce things not as he knew them to be but according to the optical illusions of which our first sight of them is composed.
The ''''sensitiveness'''' claimed by neurotic is matched by their egotism: they cannot abide the flaunting by others of the sufferings to which they pay an even increasing amount of attention in themselves
The variations of the Duchess's judgment spared no one, except her husband. He alone had never been in love with her, in him she had always felt an iron character, indifferent to the caprices that she displayed, contemptuous of her beauty, violent, of a will that would never bend, the sort under which alone nervous people can find tranquility.
There comes in all our lives a time... when the ears can listen to no music save what the moonlight breathes through the flute of silence.
They did, indeed, give a thought to the hecatombs of regiments annihilated, of passengers swallowed up by the sea, but, by two contrary operations, what concerns our well-being is multiplied, and what does not is divided, by a figure so enormous that the death of millions of people whom we do not know barely touches us, and almost less unpleasantly than a current of air.
Time passes, and little by little everything that we have spoken in falsehood becomes true.
The most familiar precepts are not always the truest.
The particulars of life do not matter to the artist; they merely provide him with the opportunity to lay bare his genius.
The sleep which lay heavy upon the furniture, the room, the whole surroundings of which I formed but an insignificant pat and whose unconsciousness I should very soon return to share.
The warm glazes, the sparkling penumbra of the room itself and, through the little window framed with honeysuckle, in the rustic avenue, the resilient dryness of the sun-parched earth, veiled only by the diaphanous gauze woven of distance and the shade of the trees.
There is a degree of resemblance between the women we love at different times; and this resemblance, though it devolves, derives from the unchanging nature of our own temperament, which is what selects them, by ruling out all those who are not likely to be both opposite and complementary to us, who cannot be relied on, that is, to gratify our sensuality and wound our heart. Such women are a product of our temperament, an inverted image or projection, a negative of our sensitivity.
This dim coolness of my room was to the broad daylight of the street what the shadow is to the sunbeam, that is to say equally luminous, and presented to my imagination the entire panorama of summer, which my senses, if I had been out walking, could have tasted and enjoyed only piecemeal; and so it was quite in harmony with my state of repose which (thanks to the enlivening adventures related in my books) sustained, like a hand reposing motionless in a stream of running water, the shock and animation of a torrent of activity.
To be an artist is to fail, as no other dare to fail... failure is his world and the shrink from it desertion
The mysteries of life, of love, of death, in which children imagine in their optimism that they have no share...we perceive with a dolorous pride that they have embodied themselves in the course of years in our own life.
The past not merely is not fugitive, it remains present.
The soldier is convinced that a certain interval of time, capable of being indefinitely prolonged, will be allowed him before the bullet finds him, the thief before he is taken, men in general before they have to die.
The whole sky was formed of that radiant and almost pale blue which the wayfarer lying down in a field sees at times above his head, but so consistent, so intense, that he feels that the blue of which it is composed has been utilized without any alloy and with such an inexhaustible richness that one might delve more and more deeply into its substance without encountering an atom of anything but that same blue.
There is hardly a single action that we perform in that phase which we would not give anything, in later life, to be able to annul. Whereas what we ought to regret is that we no longer posses the spontaneity which made us perform them. In later life we look at things in a more practical way, in full conformity with the rest of society, but adolescence is the only period in which we learn anything.
This love of ours, in so far as it is a love for one particular creature, is not perhaps a very real thing, since, though associations of pleasant or painful musings can attach it for a time to a woman to the extent of making us believe that it has been inspired by her in a logically necessary way, if on the other hand we detach ourselves deliberately or unconsciously from those associations, this love, as though it were in fact spontaneous and sprang from ourselves alone, will revive in order to bestow itself on another woman.