Monday, October 28, 2013

Breyer on Proust

From an interview, conducted in French, with Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, speaking of Marcel Proust:

Proust is a universal author: he can touch anyone, for different reasons; each of us can find some piece of himself in Proust, at different ages. For instance, the narrator of the Recherche is obsessed with the Duchesse de Guermantes. To him, Oriane embodies a slice of the history of France and glows like a stained-glass window, wreathed in the aura of her aristocratic lineage. Now, however different the situations may be, we have all of us — in our childhood, our adolescence, or later in life — admired from afar someone who has dazzled us for this reason or that. And when we read Proust, we get a glimpse of ourselves. In fact, I think that the only human emotion he never explored — because he never experienced it himself — was that of becoming a father.

What is most extraordinary about Proust is his ability to capture the subtlest nuances of human emotions, the slightest variations of the mind and the soul. To me, Proust is the Shakespeare of the inner world.
Read it all: Ionna Kohler and Stephen Breyer, On Reading Proust (New York Review of Books).

Related reading
All Proust posts (Pinboard)
David Souter and Proust

comments: 2

Barnaby Capel-Dunn said...

"In fact, I think that the only human emotion he never explored — because he never experienced it himself — was that of becoming a father."
And that of becoming a mother?!

Michael Leddy said...

Good call. Parent might have been a better choice.