Du côté de chez Swann, Marcel Proust 1913, as it concerns us:
Un homme qui dort tient en cercle autour de lui le fil des heures, l’ordre des années et des mondes. Il les consulte d’instinct en s’éveillant, et y lit en une seconde le point de la terre qu’il occupe, le temps qui s’est écoulé jusqu’à son réveil; mais leurs rangs peuvent se mêler, se rompre.
Du côté de chez Swann, Marcel Proust 1913.
A translator's preface contains an apology for an attempt at transcribing a foreign idiom into a familiar one and failing; at best, a translation from a language is merely an understanding in the reader's tongue.
C. K. Scott Moncrieff is the time-honored translator of Marcel Proust's À la recherche de temps perdu; he was its first translator and his translation has been in print with revisions since 1922.
A recent 'translation' of Swann's Way by Marcel Proust says on the cover "The C. K. Scott Moncrieff translation edited and annotated by Willam C. Carter."
After almost 100 years Mr. Moncrieff is respected today.
When a man is asleep, he has in a circle round him the chain of the hours, the sequence of the years, the order of the heavenly host. Instinctively, when he awakes, he looks to these, and in an instant reads off his own position on the earth’s surface and the amount of time that has elapsed during his slumbers; but this ordered procession is apt to grow confused, and to break its ranks.
Swann's Way, Marcel Proust 1913; translated by C. K. Scott Moncrieff, 1922. French Classics in French and English, P. 11.
When a man is asleep, he has in a circle round him the chain of the hours, the sequence of the years, the order of the heavenly bodies. Instinctively he consults them when he awakes, and in an instant reads off his own position on the earth’s surface and the time that has elapsed during his slumbers; but this ordered procession is apt to grow confused, and to break its ranks.
Swann's Way, Marcel Proust 1913; translated by C. K. Scott Moncrieff, Terrence Kilmartin and D. J. Enright 1922-1992, page 3; Loc 199.
A sleeping man holds in a circle around him the sequence of the hours, the order of the years and worlds. He consults them instinctively as he wakes and reads in a second the point on the earth he occupies, the time that has elapsed before his waking; but their ranks can be mixed up, broken.
Swann's Way Marcel Proust 1913; translated by Lydia Davis 2002, P. 5 Loc 482.
When a man is asleep, he holds in a circle around him the chain of the hours, the sequence of the years, and the order of the universe. Instinctively, when he awakes, he looks to these, and in an instant reads off his own position on the earth’s surface and the amount of time that has elapsed during his slumbers; but this ordered procession is apt to grow confused, and to break its ranks.
Swann's Way, Marcel Proust 1913; translated by C. K. Scott Moncrieff and revised by William C. Carter 2013, Loc 226.
Another feature of Proust’s article was more remarkable still: he twice mentioned arriving home to see his parents, who were, of course, no longer living. This article and “Sur la lecture” contain the earliest known manifestations of the first- person voice that was to become the Narrator’s. If the author had begun to feel at home with the voice and persona of the Narrator, he had still not found the story in which his hero was to live and breathe. The voice we begin to hear in “Impressions de route en automobile” belongs no longer to Proust the man but to the storyteller, the voice behind the Narrator’s.
Marcel Proust, A Life, William C. Carter Loc 9209
Marcel Proust writes in 1910 to Robert Dreyfus, a long time friend, whose brother Henri has just died,
Proust...used one of his favorite images, found in a number of variations in Time Regained (his last volume):
“In continuing to live thus you will be living in a region of yourself where the barriers of flesh and time no longer exist, where there is no death, because there is no time and no body, and where one lives tranquilly in the immortal company of those one loves.”
Marcel Proust, A Life (2002-2013) William C. Carter.
Since high school I've loved The Mountains High (1961) by Dick and Dee Dee; their lyrics resemble Marcel Proust in the quote above,
I know someday that we will meet again,
But I don't know exactly where or wh-en-n-n-n-en.
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.
Proust was indisposed and could not attend.
He had been eager to hear the outstanding French string quartet, led by the brilliant violinist Lucien Capet, play late Beethoven quartets. As Proust developed his novel, and particularly the new character Vinteuil, his passion for music grew even stronger.
In February the Capet Quartet appeared in Paris again and a healthier Proust enjoyed them playing two of the Late Quartets; however Beethoven never heard those works performed as he was deaf when he composed them.
During the winter and spring Proust attended a number of concerts. Always a passionate lover of music, he now concentrated on creating for his fictional composer works that inspired Swann and the Narrator to meditate on the creative imagination. This determination to capture the essence of music gave Proust reason to attend concerts more frequently, providing an enriching supplement to his evenings spent bent over the theatrophone. On February 26, (1913). Proust and (Georges de) Lauris attended a concert by the Capet String Quartet at the Salle Pleyel. The program included works that from this time on he would lose no opportunity to hear: two of Beethoven's Late Quartets and the Grosse Fugue.
Marcel Proust, A Life William C. Carter 2002-2013, p. 536.
On June 4, (1912) the day the Figaro published another excerpt from Swann's Way, "Rayon de soleil sur le balcon" (A ray of sunlight on the balcony), Proust called for Albaret to drive him to the Bernheim-Jeune Gallery to see the exhibition "Venice and Claude Monet." Proust had been unable to resist twenty-nine paintings of Venice by the master he admired more than any contemporary painter.
Marcel Proust, A Life William C. Carter 2002-2013, p. 515.
Proust had been disappointed by the audience as well as by Debussy's work (Le Martyre de Saint-Sebastien, based on a story by Gabriele D'Annunzio). His remark in a letter to Mme Straus echoes the satirical portraits of society people he had begun to write about. The people he had glimpsed at the performance "seemed to have greatly deteriorated. Even the nicest of them have taken to intelligence and alas, with society people—I don't know how they manage it—intelligence is simply a multiplier of stupidity, raising it to an unbelievable power and intensity. The only possible ones are those who have had the wit to remain stupid."
Marcel Proust, A Life William C. Carter 2002-2013, p. 500.
In his critical remarks about Sainte-Beuve, Proust is writing as himself in a fictional situation, imagining a conversation with his mother before she died. This invented setting for a real person (Proust) commenting on another real person and his work (Sainte-Beuve) served as the incubator for the emergence of the Narrator's full voice. In the Sainte-Beuve passages describing involuntary memory, Proust began to transmute his lived experience and his invented ones into the Narrator's life. We can clearly see the transition from essayist to novelist in many of the notations from Le Carnet de 1908. A strange but remarkably fecund symbiosis is being created in which Proust is himself and not himself as the Narrator. By the time he had finished, Proust had created what is perhaps the richest narrative voice in literature, a voice that speaks both as child and as man, as actor and as subject, and that weaves effortlessly between the present, past, and future.*
The symbiosis between Proust and his Narrator can be explained by the hybrid origin of the story. Having begun as an essay in which the "I" was himself, as the text veered more and more toward fiction, the "I" telling the story became both its generator and its subject, like a Siamese twin, intimately linked to Proust's body and soul and yet other.
Marcel Proust, A Life William C. Carter 2002-2013, p. 474.
*There are other aspects of this voice. For example, the Narrator as a man reflects on his childhood and his present. Sometimes when he considers the past from the viewpoint of the present, he draws certain conclusions that are corrections of what he thought earlier, but then may add, "however, as I was to learn later...." After the Narrator discovers his vocation as an artist, he reflects on the work he is about to create in relation to the story which we have just read.
Proust was asked to write a piece for Le Figaro that appeared on Februray 1, 1907 as he knew the murder/suicide victims, the mother and the son.
Many friends wrote to express their admiration for "Sentiments filiaux" (d'un parricide). To close friends Marcel expressed serious doubts about his talent. He did not trust this new voice. He wrote to Lucien: "I really feel I have" no talent. Between his translation of Sesame and "Sentiments filiaux," he had not written a line...
Jacques-Emile Blanche (who painted a portrait of Proust as a young dandy in 'smoking' that is reproduced on Carter's biography) sent congratulations but expressed some doubts about Proust's new style. A sentence that ran for eighteen lines had caught Blanche's attention. Proust, perhaps relishing the opportunity to hint that Blanche had really not paid close attention, replied that the article contained sentences of approximately thirty lines. And that in "On Reading" some occupied eighty lines.
Marcel Proust, A Life William C. Carter 2002-2013, p. 422.
Proust's friends loved it and he hated it.
Her (Anna de Noailles) words of praise had moved him so that he was "in a state of shame and confusion beyond words, enhanced by the Beaunier piece which I strongly suspect you dictated." Beaunier had hailed "M. Marcel Proust the incomparable translator of Ruskin," whose preface the critic found "charming, moving and often marvelous." Beaunier had taken particular delight in the style: "These long sentences, encumbered with all the details and circumstances, have a strange and delicious charm," which came, Beaunier said, from their "meticulous truth."
Writing to Mme Straus, Proust worried that his "indigestible nougat" of an essay might be dangerous for his languid friend to read and urged her to avoid it: "Don't read it, it's a failed effort and horribly wearying to read, with sentences that take up an entire page"...
Marcel Proust, A Life William C. Carter 2002-2013, p. 392
This preface, like the later drafts of Contre Sainte-Beuve, his last sketchbook before the full-scale novel, contains a narrative followed by a critical essay. In the last section of the preface and its notes, Proust makes observations about structure in Ruskin's writings. These thoughts would be important to his own slow elaboration of a structure for the Search.
Marcel Proust, A Life; William C. Carter 2002-2013 p. 390.
A distinctive aspect of Proust's mature style is its richness in presenting multiple perspectives or a string of analogies that dazzle by their aptness and their brilliance. The following humorous sketch of family life, from the preface, is an early example of this technique. In the family, someone who took the time to write a letter "was the object of a particular deference" and was told: "You have attended to your 'little correspondence,' with a smile in which there was respect, mystery, prurience, and discretion, as if this 'little correspondence' had been at the same time a state secret, a prerogative, a piece of good fortune, and an ailment." Proust's presentation of multiple views of the same object or action was to be one of several narrative strategies used in the novel to render life in its full richness.
Marcel Proust, A Life; William C. Carter 2002-2013 p. 390.
The sketch Carter refers to is in On Reading, the preface to Sésame et des Lys 1904, translation by Marcel Proust which was originally delivered as Sesame and Lilies in 1864 as two lectures in Manchester by John Ruskin.
The sketch of family life,
The hour went by; often, long before lunch, those who were tired and had shortened their walk, had "gone by Méseglise," or those who had not gone out that morning, "having to write," began to arrive in the dining room. They would all say: "I don't want to disturb you," but began at once to come near the fire, to look at the time, to declare that lunch would not be unwelcome. He or she who had "stayed to write" was the object of a particular deference and was told: "You have attended to your little correspondence," with a smile in which there was respect, mystery, prurience, and discretion, as if this "little correspondence" had been at the same time a state secret, a prerogative, a piece of good fortune, and an ailment.
Marcel Proust On Reading Ruskin 1987; the preface, On Reading by Marcel Proust translated by Autret, Burford and Wolfe, p. 101.