Friday, October 5, 2007

Harold Nicolson meets Proust

Here's Harold Nicolson's account of meeting Proust (the story behind "N'allez pas trop vite"). Nicolson is describing the work of the Paris Peace Conference:

Proust is white, unshaven, grubby, slip-faced. He puts his fur coat on afterwards and sits hunched there in white kid gloves. Two cups of black coffee he has, with chunks of sugar. Yet in his talk there is no affectation. He asks me questions. Will I please tell him how the Committees work? I say, "Well, we generally meet at 10.0, there are secretaries behind. . . ." "Mais non, mais non, vouz allez trop vite. Recommencez. Vous prenez la voiture de la Délégation. Vous descendez au Quai d'Orsay. Vous montex l'escalier. Vous entrez dans la Salle. Et alors? Précisez, mon cher, précisez." So I tell him everything. The sham cordiality of it all : the handshakes : the maps : the rustle of papers : the tea in the next room : the macaroons. He listens enthralled, interrupting from time to time — "Mais précisez, mon cher monsieur, n'allez pas trop vite." [March 2, 1919]

From Peacemaking, 1919 (1933)

All Proust posts (via Pinboard)
Harold Nicolson (Wikipedia)
(Thanks, Google Book Search!)

[This post is the 1000th post to Orange Crate Art.]

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