Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Proust: imagination and desire

Today's Proust sentence concerns the workings of imagination and desire. Swann, in love, has been shifting between two ideas of Odette: Odette as a "perfidious woman," manipulative and faithless, and "the other Odette," gentle, gracious, "shining softly":

Now that, after this oscillation, Odette had naturally returned to the place from which Swann's jealousy had for a time removed her, to the angle from which he found her charming, he pictured her as full of tenderness, with a look of consent, and so pretty thus that he could not help offering her his lips as if she had been there and he had been able to kiss her; and he felt as strong a gratitude toward her for this enchanting, kindly glance as if she had really given it to him, as if it were not merely his imagination that had just portrayed it in order to satisfy his desire.

From Swann's Way, translated by Lydia Davis (New York: Viking, 2002), 314

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