French Novelist, Critic and Essayist
Marcel Proust, fully Valentin Louis Georges Eugène Marcel Proust
French Novelist, Critic and Essayist
The true paradises are the lost paradises.
Then it would begin to seem unintelligible, as the thoughts of a former existence must be to a reincarnate spirit; the subject of my book would separate itself from me, leaving me free to choose whether I would form part of it or no; and at the same time my sight would return and I would be astonished to find myself in a state of darkness, pleasant and restful enough for the eyes, and even more, perhaps, for my mind, to which it appeared incomprehensible, without a cause, a matter dark indeed.
There was a time when my ancestors were proud of the title of chamberlain or butler to the King, said the Baron. There was also a time, replied Morel haughtily, when my ancestors cut off your ancestors' heads.
Those who have created for themselves an enveloping inner life, pay little heed to the importance of current events. What alters profoundly the course of their thinking is much more something which seems to be of no importance in itself and yet which reverses the order of time for them, making them live over again an earlier period of their life. The song of a bird in the park of Montboissier, a breeze laden with the scent of mignonette, are obviously incidents of less importance than the outstanding dates of the Revolution and the Empire. Yet they inspired Chateaubriand in his M‚moires d'Outre-tombe to write pages of an infinitely greater value.
The only true paradise is paradise lost.
The regularity of a habit is generally in proportion to its absurdity.
The true paradises are the paradises that we have lost.
Theoretically, we know that the world turns, but in fact we do not notice it, the earth on which we walk does not seem to move and we live on in peace. This is how it is concerning Time in our lives. And to render its passing perceptible, novelists must... have their readers cross ten, twenty, thirty years in two minutes.
There was nothing abnormal about it when homosexuality was the norm.
Those who have played a big part in one?s life very rarely disappear from it suddenly for good. They return to it at odd moments ? before leaving it for good.
The only true paradises are the paradises which we have lost.
The remembrance of things past is not necessarily the remembrance of things as they were.
The true voyage of discovery consists not of seeking new landscapes, but having new eyes.
There are certain original and distinguished authors in whom the least 'freedom of speech' is thought revolting because they have not begun by flattering the public taste, and serving up to it the commonplace expressions to which it is used; it was by the same process that Swann infuriated M. Verdurin. In his case as in theirs it was the novelty of his language which led his audience to suspect the blackness of his designs.
There were in this [musical] passage some admirable ideas which Swann had not distinguished on first hearing the sonata, and which he now perceived, as if they had, in the cloakroom of his memory, divested themselves of their uniform disguise of novelty.
Those whose suffering is due to love are, as we say of certain invalids, their own physicians.
The only true voyage of discovery, the only fountain of Eternal Youth, would be not to visit strange lands but to possess other eyes, to behold the universe through the eyes of another, of a hundred others, to behold the hundred universes that each of them beholds, that each of them is.
The resurrection at our awakening-after that beneficent attack of mental alienation which is sleep-must after all be similar to what occurs when we recall a name, a line, a refrain that we had forgotten. And perhaps the resurrection of the soul after death is to be conceived as a phenomenon of memory.
The truth has no need to be uttered to be made apparent...one may perhaps gather it with more certainty, without waiting for words, without even bothering one's head about them, from a thousand outward signs, even from certain invisible phenomena, analogous in the sphere of human character to what in nature are atmospheric changes. I might perhaps have suspected this, since to myself at that time it frequently occurred that I said things in which there was no vestige of truth, while I made the real truth plain by all manner of involuntary confidences expressed by my body and in my actions (which were at once interpreted by Fran‡oise).
There are mountainous, arduous days, up which one takes an infinite time to climb, and downward-sloping days which one can descend at full tilt, singing as one goes.
There were some that were of so rare a beauty that my pleasure on catching sight of them was enhanced by surprise. By what privilege, on one morning rather than another, did the window on being uncurtained disclose to my wondering eyes the nymph Glauconome, whose lazy beauty, gently breathing, had the transparence of a vaporous emerald beneath whose surface I could see teeming the ponderable elements that colored it? She made the sun join in her play, with a smile rendered languorous by an invisible haze which was nought but a space kept vacant about her translucent surface, which, thus curtailed, became more appealing, like those goddesses whom the sculptor carves in relief upon a block of marble, the rest of which he leaves unchiselled. So, in her matchless color, she invited us out over those rough terrestrial roads, from which, seated beside Mme. de Villeparisis in her barouche, we should see, all day long and without ever reaching it, the coolness of her gentle palpitation.
Though time changes people, it does not alter the image we have kept of them.
The only true voyage of discovery... consists not in seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes.
The rule among the human race ? a rule that naturally admits of exceptions ? is that the reputedly hard are the weak whom nobody wanted, and that the strong, caring little whether they are wanted or not, have alone that gentleness which the vulgar herd mistakes for weakness.
The truth I am seeking is not in the drink, but in me.