Sunday, June 3, 2007

Proust: "memory's pictures"

The narrator brings us into present time at the end of Swann's Way, when he recounts taking a walk "this year" in the Bois de Boulogne, where he used to see Mme. Swann, looking "like a queen." From the novel's final paragraph:

Nature was resuming its rule over the Bois, from which the idea that it was the Elysian Garden of Woman had vanished; above the artificial mill the real sky was gray; the wind wrinkled the Grand Lac with little wavelets, like a real lake; large birds swiftly crossed the Bois, like a real wood, and uttering sharp cries alighted one after another in the tall oaks under their druidical crowns and with a Dodonean majesty seemed to proclaim the inhuman emptiness of the disused forest, and helped me better understand what a contradiction it is to search in reality for memory's pictures, which would never have the charm that comes to them from memory itself and from not being perceived by the senses. The reality I had known no longer existed.

From Swann's Way, translated by Lydia Davis (New York: Viking, 2002), 443-44
[A note glosses Dodonean: "In Dodona, in Epirus, the priests of Zeus' sanctuary gave oracles by interpreting the sound of the wind in the sacred oaks." (463)]
All Proust posts (Pinboard)

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