Monday, June 19, 2006

From Proust

Marcel Proust on "'seeing a person we know'":

But even with respect to the most insignificant things in life, none of us constitutes a material whole, identical for everyone, which a person has only to go look up as though we were a book of specifications or a last testament; our social personality is a creation of the minds of others. Even the very simple act that we call "seeing a person we know" is in part an intellectual one. We fill the physical appearance of the individual we see with all the notions we have about him, and of the total picture that we form for ourselves, these notions certainly occupy the greater part. In the end they swell his cheeks so perfectly, follow the line of his nose in an adherence so exact, they do so well at nuancing the sonority of his voice as though the latter were only a transparent envelope that each time we see this face and hear this voice, it is these notions that we encounter again, that we hear.

From Swann's Way, translated by Lydia Davis (New York: Viking, 2002)
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comments: 3

TRH said...

wonderful quotation -- could you toss us a page citation? Thanks much!

--trh

Michael Leddy said...

It's in Chapter One of Part One, page 19 in the Lydia Davis translation.

I'm going to post one short excerpt a day as I read the novel — stay tuned for more.

TRH said...

thanks for the cite!

--trh