Saturday, May 26, 2007

Odette and Zipporah

[Above, Zipporah, a detail from Sandro Botticelli, Scenes from the Life of Moses (1481-82)]

M. Swann is in the habit of seeing resemblances between people whom he knows and faces in paintings, a habit that allows him to associate the lovely Odette with the words "Florentine painting," making her thus more interesting to him:

Standing next to him, allowing her hair, which she had undone, to flow down her cheeks, bending one leg somewhat in the position of a dancer so that without getting tired she could lean over the engraving, which she looked at, inclining her head, with those large eyes of hers, so tired and sullen when she was not animated, she struck Swann by her resemblance to the figure of Zipporah, Jethro's daughter, in a fresco in the Sistine Chapel.

From Swann's Way, translated by Lydia Davis (New York: Viking, 2002), 230-31

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