Eugene Wyatt @CatskillMerino
Marcel Proust's À la recherche du temps perdu is a 3000 page novel with writing that existed in similar versions written years before.Posted by: Eugene Wyatt
From Contre Sainte-Beuve ~1908,
And just then I saw, quivering on the sill of the French window, a pulse like a heartbeat, dim and colourless, but continually dilating and enlarging, and which one felt was going to become a sunbeam. And indeed a moment later it half invaded the sill, and then, after a brief hesitation, a shy drawing-back, flooded it all over with a pale light in which swam the rather indistinct shadows of the iron-work balcony railings. ...
Marcel Proust on Art and Literature (containing Contre Sainte-Beuve) translated by Sylvia Townsend Warner 1957 p. 74.Posted by: Eugene Wyatt
From Swann's Way 1913,
... And so, from lunch-time onwards, my anxious eyes never left the unsettled, clouded sky. It remained dark. The balcony in front of the window was grey. Suddenly, on its sullen stone, I would not exactly see a less leaden colour, but I would feel as it were a striving towards a less leaden colour, the pulsation of a hesitant ray that struggled to discharge its light. A moment later, the balcony was as pale and luminous as a pool at dawn, and a thousand shadows from the iron-work of its balustrade had alighted on it. ...
Published in Le Figaro 1912 from Swann's Way Marcel Proust 1913, translated by Moncrieff, Kilmartin and Enright 1922-1992 p. 563.Posted by: Eugene Wyatt
At heart, I know quite well that a number of people, some of them my intimate friends, will make nothing of my article; but even from these I get the agreeable feeling that today I shall occupy their minds, if not with my thoughts, which will be totally inapparent to them, at least with my name, my personality, and the merit they impute to some one able to write so many things they do not understand at all. There is a person to whom this will give the idea of me that I so much desire she should have. Just by fact of existing, this article that she will not understand is a declaration of my merit which will reach her ears. Alas, a declaration of the merit of someone she does not love will no more charm her heart than a page filled with ideas she does not possess will detain her mind.
Marcel Proust on Art and Literature translated by Sylvia Townsend Warner 1957, (from Contre Sainte-Beuve) p. 66.Posted by: Eugene Wyatt
I unfolded the copy of Le Figaro. ... It is my article! ... What I am holding in my hand is not only my own thought, it is thousands of wakened attentions taking it in. ... If I compared my article with the article I meant to write—as later on, alas! I shall do—instead of delightfully coherent passages I should probably find palsied stammerings which even to the most well-wishing reader could barely hint at what, before I took pen in hand, I supposed myself able to express. That was how I felt when I wrote it, when I revised it; in an hour’s time I shall feel so again; but at this moment each sentence that I extorted from myself flows, not into my own mind, but into the minds of thousands on thousands of readers who have just woken up and opened Le Figaro.
Marcel Proust on Art and Literature translated by Sylvia Townsend Warner 1957, (from Contre Sainte-Beuve) p. 61.Posted by: Eugene Wyatt
Posted by: Eugene Wyatt
Beauty is not like a ne plus ultra of what we suppose beautiful, an abstract type of the beauty before our eyes; on the contrary, it is something novel and, until life puts it before our eyes, unimaginable.
Marcel Proust on Art and Literature translated by Sylvia Townsend Warner 1957, p. 45 (from Contre Sainte-Beuve).
La beauté n’est pas comme un superlatif de ce que nous imaginons, comme un type abstrait que nous avons devant les yeux, mais au contraire un type nouveau, impossible à imaginer que la réalité nous présente.
Contre Sainte-Beuve Marcel Proust 1908 p. 70.
Beauty is not a superlative that we imagine, like an abstract concept before our eyes, but on the contrary something new, impossible to imagine until reality presents us with it.
My translation.Posted by: Eugene Wyatt
There are times, when a morning of spring has strayed into winter and the clapper of the man who sells goat’s-milk sends a purer note than a Sicilian shepherd’s flute into the blue sky, when I would like to cross the snows of the Saint Gothard and come down into a flowering Italy. And already, touched by this morning sunbeam, I have jumped out of bed, I perform a thousand frisks and capers that I see corroborated in the looking-glass, I delightedly utter quite uninspired remarks, and I sing—for the poet is like the statue of Memnon; one ray from the rising sun is enough to make him sing.
Marcel Proust on Art and Literature translated by Sylvia Townsend Warner 1957, p. 41 (from Contre Sainte-Beuve).Posted by: Eugene Wyatt
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young RamPosted by: Eugene Wyatt
GestatingPosted by: Eugene Wyatt
Saturday morning I get up at 4 AM to go to Union Square where I have a farmers' market to sell Saxon Merino yarn, lamb and sheepskins. With a cup of Peruvian Dark coffee beside me, I read a passage out-loud, to improve my diction; I'm reading Proust's Contre Sainte-Beuve silently so I'm reading it out-loud too. I thought again about the sentence below driving toward the city as the day began to dawn over New Jersey and I saw the broken-toothed mouth of Manhattan's skyline.
For not only the time of year but every kind of weather provides it with a different atmospheric density, like a particular musical instrument on which it will play its persistent tune of rumble and ring, and this same tune will not only sound different to us, but will take on a colour and a purport, and express quite a different feeling if it is muffled like a drum by fog, if it melts and sings like a fiddle—and it is quite ready to assume that light, glinting tone-colour—in an air that ripples with breezes, or if it pierces the blue ice of a sunny day in winter with the gimlet-note of a fife.
Marcel Proust on Art and Literature translated by Sylvia Townsend Warner 1957, p. 39. (from Contre Sainte-Beuve)
Rain was forecast, but it wasn't raining yet; Rebecca, Sydney and I didn't get wet setting up the canopies. Rain always means a diminishment of income; customers don't come out to shop. In out-door markets you take the good weather with the bad.
Sydney, who is always singing, started to sing Fire And Rain by James Taylor and I thought of Johnny Cash who covered Gordon Lightfoot's If You Could Read My Mind mistakenly thinking it was written and recorded by James Taylor. Luckily I found the song in iTunes; Mark, who is a musician and works mornings at the stand, listened to it on my iPhone. He held the speaker to his ear for almost all of the tune—something interested him. It's noisy in New York, I was pleased but I felt silly later—I didn't discover my song writing mistake until Sunday. As Lady Macbeth says, "What's done is done."
After we'd set-up, the display looked good—the yarn was colorfully hung in the stand, the lamb was freshly displayed on dry ice in coolers and the fluffy sheepskins were on the tables. I yawned as I usually do about this time; I make a bed of sheepskins, overalls and any clothing in the front seat of the truck that I could stuff between the seats. I layed down and slept but after 15 minutes, I was wakened by the rain splashing on the metal of the cab. Sitting up and looking out of the foggy windows I saw several rain-slicked black umbrellas with people huddled under them, the crowds had diminished and I was over staffed.
I take advantage of New York when I'm there. I went to see Madame Cézanne at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Paul Cézanne painted his wife 29 times. I was drawn to the exhibition by the portraits painted over a 20 year span. It intrigued and it didn't disturb how he painted one eye so differently from the other in many of the portraits because I'm keen on his out-of-balance still life painting.
Hortense Fiquet, you have become an apple of my eye.Posted by: Eugene Wyatt
These were not the thundering bells that you heard when you returned to the village - when you neared the church that, from close up, regained its great, rigid height, its slate-gray cowl dotted with black crows rearing up into the evening blue - letting fly their bursts of sound across the square ‘for the bounties of the earth’.
Marcel Proust and John Ruskin On Reading; translated by Damion Searls 2011, p. 14.Posted by: Eugene Wyatt
Charles Sainte-Beuve (1804-1869) was an influential literary critic and a member of L'Académie française. With Contre Sainte-Beuve (~1908) Proust damns the judgement of an artist by his character while ignoring his work—which is what Sainte-Beuve did.
What interests me is the hybrid nature of Contre Sainte-Beuve. A Gallimard editor, Bernard de Fallois, found a series of related writings among Proust's papers, assembled them and published it posthumously as an intriguing melange of fiction and nonfiction in 1954.
From the Introduction by Terence Kilmartin to Marcel Proust on Art and Literature translated by Sylvia Townsend Warner, 1957:
...At some stage during the composition of Contre Sainte-Beuve (which Proust conceived alternately as a classical essay "in the manner of Taine" and a [fictive] conversation with his mother [who had died in 1905] in which he discussed the subject with her) the novel took over...
"All the themes which will develop and ramify in the novel reveal themselves here with astonishing clarity," Fallois wrote in his preface; "Sainte-Beuve thus becomes a sort of symphonic overture in which the motifs that will be heard in the work are indicated in advance.
Here we have a precursor of the Madeline moment, one the most famous passages in À la recherche, in Proust's fictional narrative of Contre Sainte-Beuve,
One snowy evening, not long ago, I came in half frozen, and had sat down in my room to read by lamplight, and as I could not get warm my old cook offered to make me a cup of tea, a thing I never drink. And as chance would have it, she brought me some slices of dry toast. I dipped the toast in the cup of tea and as soon as I put it in my mouth, and felt its softened texture, all flavored with tea, against my palate, something came over me—the smell of geraniums and orange-blossoms, a sensation of extraordinary radiance and happiness; I sat quite still, afraid that the slightest movement might cut short this incomprehensible process which was taking place in me, and concentrated on the bit of sopped toast which seemed responsible for all these marvels; then suddenly the shaken partitions in my memory gave way, and into my conscious mind there rushed the summers I had spent in the aforesaid house in the country, with their early mornings, and the succession, the ceaseless onset, of happy hours in their train.
And on the critical or nonfiction side Sainte-Beuve, as quoted by Proust, condemns himself. Taken from The Modernism Lab at Yale University, Contre Sainte-Beuve:
"So long as one has not asked an author a certain number of questions and received answers to them, though they were only whispered in confidence, one cannot be sure of having a complete grasp of him, even though these questions might seem at the furthest remove from the nature of his writings. What were his religious views? How did he react to the sight of nature? How did he conduct himself in regard to women, in regard to money? Was he rich, was he poor?
In 1971 the Pléiade editors (of Proust's oeuvre) decided that the fictional and the critical elements were strictly unrelated in a work that was to be commonly known as Contre Sainte-Beuve.
The Pléiade editors were no doubt logically justified in excising the fictional elements from the critical study in their version of Contre Sainte-Beuve. But whatever Proust's intent (which will probably never be known), there is enough evidence to suggest that the two were intimately connected in his mind—indeed, the final novel is (among many other things) an indirect refutation of Sainte-Beuve's critical method and literary ethos, with characters such as Norpois and Mme de Villeparisis representing his views and the three great fictional artists, Bergotte, Elstir, and Vinteuil, standing in for the nineteenth-century poets and novelists he so crassly undervalued."
Contre Sainte-Beuve is a mix of the seemingly non-miscible aspects of fiction and nonfiction in the way that Bernard de Fallois assembled Proust's writing.Posted by: Eugene Wyatt
Alas! I did not realise that my own lack of willpower, my delicate health, and the consequent uncertainty as to my future, weighed far more heavily on my grandmother’s mind than any little dietary indiscretion by her husband in the course of those endless perambulations, afternoon and evening, during which we used to see her handsome face passing to and fro, half raised towards the sky, its brown and wrinkled cheeks, which with age had acquired almost the purple hue of tilled fields in autumn, covered, if she were “going out,” by a half-lifted veil, while upon them either the cold or some sad reflection invariably left the drying traces of an involuntary tear.
À la recherche du temps perdu; Volume I, Du côté de chez Swann by Marcel Proust 1913; translated by Moncrieff, Kilmartin and Enright as Swann's Way 1922, page 14.Posted by: Eugene Wyatt
To Robert Dreyfus about Raymond Recouly, an essayist, an editor of the Figaro and a colleague there who panned Swann's Way.
“But in fact I don’t note anything. He’s the one who notes. Not once does a character of mine close a window, or wash his hands, or put on an overcoat, or say ‘How do you do.’ Indeed if there were anything new in the book it would be that, but not at all deliberately; I’m simply too lazy to write things that bore me.”
Marcel Proust, A Life William C. Carter 2002-2013.Posted by: Eugene Wyatt