Thursday, September 20, 2007

Proust and possession, continued

Twenty-eight pages later, the narrator's dream of possessing the sleeping Albertine comes undone:

We imagine that love has for its object a being which can lie down before us, enclosed in a body. Alas! It is the extension of that body to every point in space and time which that being has occupied or will occupy. If we do not grasp its point of contact with a given place, a given time, then we do not possess it. But we cannot touch all these points. If at least they were indicated to us, we could stretch out to reach them. But we can only feel for them blindly.

Marcel Proust, The Prisoner, translated by Carol Clark (London: Penguin, 2003), 88
Albertine asleep is a body without sight or speech; now the narrator too is blind, unable to see that body in relation to every moment of its past and future. Possession now requires god-like omniscience.

I have a friend who found the roman d'Albertine, the Albertine novel, so disturbing that she wonders whether she'll go back to these later volumes of In Search of Lost Time. Proust's chronicle of obsession makes even Hitchcock's Vertigo seem almost healthy by comparison. (But I still love Vertigo.)
All Proust posts (via Pinboard)

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