Thursday, May 24, 2007

"The raised finger of the dawn"

The first section of Swann's Way, "Combray," ends as it begins, with thoughts on sleep. At the close of this section, the narrator, lying in bed, has reconstructed his bedroom in the darkness, putting the pieces of furniture in their proper places. Or so he thinks:

But scarcely had the daylight -- and no longer the reflection of a last ember on the brass curtain rod which I had mistaken for it -- traced on the darkness, as though in chalk, its first white, correcting ray, than the window along with its curtains would leave the doorframe in which I had mistakenly placed it, while, to make room for it, the desk which my memory had clumsily moved there would fly off at top speed, pushing the fireplace before it and thrusting aside the wall of the passageway; a small courtyard would extend in the spot where only a moment before the dressing room had been, and the dwelling I had rebuilt in the darkness would have gone off to join the dwellings glimpsed in the maelstrom of my awakening, put to flight by the pale sign traced above the curtains by the raised finger of the dawn.

From Swann's Way, translated by Lydia Davis (New York: Viking, 2002), 190-191
Is Lydia Davis punning on Homer's rosy-fingered dawn? I hope so.
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comments: 1

Lee said...

Well, yesterday I was considering punning on wine-dark sea but decided it was Too Much. However, I'm not Proust ... rather obviously!