French Novelist, Critic and Essayist
Marcel Proust, fully Valentin Louis Georges Eugène Marcel Proust
French Novelist, Critic and Essayist
There are people whose faces assume an unaccustomed beauty and majesty the moment they cease to look out of their eyes.
There's nothing like desire to prevent the things one says from having any resemblance to the things in one's mind.
Three-quarters of the mental ingenuity and the mendacious boasting squandered ever since the world began by people who are only cheapened thereby, have been aimed at inferiors.
The mode by which he heard the universe and projected it far beyond himself. Perhaps it was in this, I said to Albertine, this unknown quality of a unique world which no other composer had ever yet revealed, that the most authentic proof of genius lies, even more than in the content of the work itself. Even in literature? Albertine inquired. Even in literature. And thinking again of the sameness of Vinteuil?s works, I explained to Albertine that the great men of letters have never created more than a single work, or rather have never done more than refract through various media an identical beauty which they bring into the world. If it were not so late, my sweet, I said to her, I would show you this quality in all the writers whose works you read while I?m asleep, I would show you the same identity as in Vinteuil. These key-phrases, which you are beginning to recognize as I do, my little Albertine, the same in the sonata, in the septet, in the other works, would be, say for instance in Barbey dAurevilly, a hidden reality revealed by a physical sign, the physiological blush...
The only true voyage, the only bath in the Fountain of Youth, would be not to visit strange lands but to possess other eyes, to see the universe through the eyes of another, of a hundred others, to see the hundred universes that each of them sees, that each of them is; and this we do [with great artists]; with artists like these we do really fly from star to star.
The salient feature of the absurd age I was at--an age which for all its alleged awkwardness, is prodigiously rich-- is that reason is not its guide, and the most insignificant attributes of other people always appear to be consubstantial with their personality. One lives among monsters and gods, a stranger to peace of mind. There is scarcely a single one of our acts from that time which we would not prefer to abolish later on. But all we should lament is the loss of the spontaneity that urged them upon us. In later life, we see things with a more practical eye, one we share with the rest of society; but adolescence was the only time when we ever learned anything.
The truth is that every morning war is declared afresh. And the men who wish to continue it are as guilty as the men who began it, more guilty perhaps, for the latter perhaps did not foresee all its horrors.
There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we believe we left without having lived them, those we spent with a favorite book.
These dreams reminded me that, since I wished someday to become a writer, it was high time to decide what sort of books I was going to write. But as soon as I asked myself the question, and tried to discover some subject to which I could impart a philosophical significance of infinite value, my mind would stop like a clock, my consciousness would be faced with a blank, I would feel either that I was wholly devoid of talent or perhaps that some malady of the brain was hindering its development.
Three-quarters of the sicknesses of intelligent people come from their intelligence. They need at least a doctor who can understand this sickness.
The moments of the past do not remain still; they retain in our memory the motion which drew them towards the future, towards a future which has itself become the past, and draw us on in their train.
The opinions which we hold of one another, our relations with friends and kinfolk are in no sense permanent, save in appearance, but are as eternally fluid as the sea itself.
The seaside life and the life of travel made me realize that the theatre of the world is stocked with fewer settings than actors, and with fewer actors than situations.
The truth, even more, is that life is perpetually weaving fresh threads which link one individual and one event to another, and that these threads are crossed and re-crossed, doubled and redoubled to thicken the web, so that between any slightest point of our past and all the others a rich network of memories gives us an almost infinite variety of communicating paths to choose from.
There are things in our souls which we know not how much they mean to us. Or rather, if we live without them, it is because, either through fear of failing or suffering, we daily postpone the moment of coming under their thrall.
They buried him, but all through the night of mourning, in the lighted windows, his books arranged three by three kept watch like angels with outspread wings and seemed for him who was no more; the symbol of his resurrection
Through art alone are we able to emerge from ourselves, to know what another person sees of a universe which is not the same as our own and of which, without art, the landscapes would remain as unknown to us as those that may exist on the moon. Thanks to art, instead of seeing one world only, our own, we see that world multiply itself and we have at our disposal as many worlds as there are original artists, worlds more different one from the other than those which revolve in infinite space, worlds which, centuries after the extinction of the fire from which their light first emanated, whether it is called Rembrandt or Vermeer, send us still each one its special radiance.
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.