Monday, September 4, 2006

Proust, overheard

The narrator is in a Paris restaurant with Robert Saint-Loup, late on a foggy night:

A remark made by one of the diners behind me made me turn my head for a second. Instead of the words, "Yes, I'll have the chicken wing and a little champagne, too, but not too dry," I thought I had heard, "I would prefer glycerine. Yes, hot, that's right." I was anxious to take a look at the ascetic who was inflicting such a diet upon himself, but I quickly turned back to Saint-Loup to avoid being recognized by the man with the strange appetite. It was simply a doctor I knew whose advice was being asked by another customer, who had taken advantage of the fog to pin him down in this café. Like stockbrokers, doctors use the first person singular.
Marcel Proust, The Guermantes Way, translated by Mark Treharne (New York: Penguin, 2002), 404

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