Friday, July 10, 2020

Joyeux anniversaire, M. Proust

Marcel Proust was born on this day in 1871. Here he describes how he felt when he came to the end of a book in childhood, secretly reading late at night in bed:

One would have so much liked for the book to continue or, if that was impossible, to have other facts about all these characters, to learn something of their lives now, to employ our own on things not altogether unconnected with the love they have inspired in us, whose object was now all of a sudden gone from us, not to have loved in vain, for an hour, human beings who tomorrow will be no more than a name on a forgotten page, in a book unrelated to our lives and as to whose value we were certainly mistaken since its fate here below, as we could now see and as our parents had taught us when need arose by a dismissive phrase, was not at all, as we had thought, to contain the universe and our own destiny, but to occupy a very narrow space in the lawyer’s bookcase, between the unglamorous archives of the Journal de modes illustré and La Géographie d’Eure-et-Loir.

Marcel Proust, “Days of Reading.” 1906. In Days of Reading, translated by John Sturrock (London: Penguin, 2008). This essay was originally published as “Sur la lecture” [On reading], a preface to Proust’s translation of John Ruskin’s Sesame and Lilies.
Related reading
All OCA Proust posts (Pinboard)

[This description of reading at night began with I. And now it’s shifted to one and we : Proust speaking for himself and for us. The shifts are, of course, in the French original.]

comments: 2

Fresca said...

Hey! That desire to have a story continue is one source of fan-fiction.

I wonder if anyone's written Proust fanfic...
*checks AO3*
I find only eleven, most in French.

Perhaps most people are not left wanting more Proust?

Michael Leddy said...

I heard Daniel Pinkwater give a talk, many years ago, to an audience mostly of children and their parents. One boy asked about what happened to the characters in Lizard Music (I think it was). DP explained that the story he wrote he ended where it ended, that there wasn’t any more, but that a reader could make up more stories about the characters. Yep, fan fiction.

I’d like to see something about Joyce and Proust. Their one encounter was pretty awkward. Maybe a buddy movie — Jim and Marcel’s Excellent Adventure.