Indeed, the nature of Proust's genius precluded his copying from reality any character, however interesting. In other novels the characters though alive seem to be made for the plot within which they move. In Proust they move from one social center to another with a resultant crisscrossing of passions and prejudices.
After stating that they, among the other bad poets transformed into croaking frogs in a pool on the way to Parnassus, surpass all their comrades in preciosity, he makes a malicious allusion to Navagero. I dare not hold out a great deal of hope and fear that our somewhat timid beginnings may raise obstacles for us later. Shown in the same way the resulting verse admits two arrangements of rhyme. Morin, G. XJP' , whose statement is significant for the subject matter in general:. Such a material presents at every dissolution and renewal an image of death as the gateway to another life. Tutelles et curatelles —
Mme Verdurin, leader at first of the small "noyau" in opposition to the Faubourg Saint-Germain, becomes later Princesse de Guermantes. They are shown thus in a constant process of change, in time and space, not only physically, but also spiritually, and often a servant is seen to be the equal or even the superior of a duchess. Such an understanding of the nature of Proust's characters is necessary to the making of a repertory of them.
The aim that guided M.
Its use is, moreover, limited, because the references to volume and page in it are restricted to an edition which is not found in all hands. Daudet claims that every citation from. Daudet uses. Also as a new edition of Proust in different type is being published. Even as it is, it abounds in numerous omissions. In spite of its shortcomings, however, it ought to be of use as a first guide to the characters in Proust and as a ready reference to their actions and movements. It ought also to serve as a help to a future and more comprehensive repertory of ail that is in Proust.
For even more important than a repertory of names, a good many of which are of little significance, would be a dictionary of the ideas of Proust. Such, for the second time, was the purpose of M. There are fifty-seven of these selections in all. They afford the reader not only a bird's-eye view of the entire novel, but also a cross-section of it.
After reading these extracts he should not feel so shy of confronting the more arduous task of going through the fifteen volumes to unravel their fascinating but intricate psychological woof. What M. Ramon Fernandez says cannot be done in a book of selections, M. Pierre-Quint rightly stresses Proust's method of showing man on a relative scale of values.
It is not time alone that passes in Jl la Recherche du Temps perdu, but feelings, impressions, actions, thoughts, and men are in a constant state of flux and escape. Nothing seems absolute enough to withstand the flight of time, save the unconscious memory of the narrator.
That is why his novel reads like an autobiography. The impressions of life that affect us consciously are few in porportion to those which sink into our inner organism and which are the real ones, because they are left untouched and unmodined by our mania for rationalizing everything. The voluntary memory can draw upon what recollections the intelligence stores up; but it is the involuntary we must turn to to draw from the well of impressions imbedded in our subconscious.
And it is at this level that Proust carries on his observations. Just as the intelligence becomes the storehouse of our surface impressions of life, so art becomes for him the repository of its deeper, almost mystic contacts. He seeks to thwart the fatal death of our unconscious sensations by converting them into a spiritual certainty.
So, as M. PierreQuint points out in his later work, Proust, though reaching to the confines of the unknown in life, differs from the real mystic in that unlike the latter his desire is to see and to analyse his vision in the depths of reality. The mystic is content to enter into communion with the divine which for him lies beyond this life and to accept the moment of grace in silence. Proust is constantly tortured by the desire to render apprehensible the inner aspects he sees of life and to spiritualize them by expressing them in his art.
Pierre-Quint brings out also very judiciously that when Proust views men and things at their own superficial level, the effects derived are either comic or grotesque. But this may result also from his piercing vision of the reality of things, and the comic rises then almost to the level of the fantastic. This scene, as Proust himself indicates, was the last factor in determining him to abandon forever all social life and to devote himself to writing down what was fast ebbing away in the sea of time, or of his unconscious memory, because his physical life, and therefore his spiritual life, his art, were at the mercy of old age and death.
Proust's method of work was subject to the conditions of his health. In proportion as it grew worse his art grew in depth. The style, tortuous, labyrinthine, breath-taking to the point of being exasperating, at times winds itself around the dark corridors of the subconscious until the intelligence itself becomes dizzy.
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These apparent meanderings, his constant delays on the way, his deceiving absorption in detail, however, are a sifting of the sensations to get at what is unequivocably real in life. His artistic integrity in this respect knew no bounds. He rose from his agony the night before his death to dictate from personal experience a new version of the death of Bergotte.
This overwhelming preoccupation in his art is not so evident in the book which M.
Pierre-Quint entitles Comment Travaillait Proust. Proust tells us that he ed. But the variants M. Interesting also are Proust's addenda to the original text which M. Pierre-Quint points out, and which indicate that he was constantly approaching by tortuous routes a vision of reality more profound than he had seen at first, and which he had to express by delving deeper into his art.
The second part of this volume consists of a bibliography extending to the beginning of and including as many as titles.
It is not a critical bibliography, but until we get the Bibliographie Proustienne, by G. There are several omissions, among which: E. Proust," in English Review, London, ; J. Proust," French Quarterly, Manchester, ; Mrs. Mariani and M. Several misprints like the following occur: Edwin Muid, for Muir; J. To a misprint also must be due the amusing chronological error committed by Princess Bibesco when she speaks of visiting Proust for the last time in the summer of Proust had been dead since November 18, More serious is the error committed by M.
He asserts there that the episode "Un Amour de Swann" begins "trente ans avant la naissance de Proust," and that the span of time covered by Proust's narrative is of about 75 years.
The period covered by Proust then must be more exactly that between And yet the Princess played a' rt in the life of Proust. Her share, she confesses candidly, was to represent for ht. And yet at their first meeting, she confesses, he produced on her "la peur de l'indicible. For whatever art does not save from the wreck of life, he came to see, death carries away, and he wanted to save everything.
Every artist is divided between life and art, and most of the time he betrays one for the other, when he is not betraying one and the other. Proust was a faithful lover of life in his youth, and so he was able to give himself more completely to his last love, to art, in the end.
He was thus one with the writers of to-day who want to live first, and who feel that to write is to be untrue to life, "une erreur"; and he was one with a Baudelaire, a Flaubert for whom to write was to be true to it, to fulfill it, to idealize it. Jean de Pierrefeu writes:. Louis de Robert was one of that ultimate group of ten that stood guard around Zola when, just after his condemnation in the Dreyfus affair, he was menaced by an infuriated mob that wanted to drown him in the Seine.
He knew the glory of being excluded from the drawing-room of Alphonse Daudet because of his loyalty to Dreyfus' defender. To Loti he was more than a friend,—one of the two or three men, perhaps, who never quarreled with this dandified, reserved, but internally burning and oversensitive International Lover. What is admirable about Louis de Robert is the unstinting generosity with which he proclaims his reverence for men greater than he, more talented or successful than he.
It is far better to be such a man than a successful author. Strange to note how this invalid, bed-ridden for years, has outlived almost his entire generation! Louis de Robert has written only one novel that may be remembered, Le Roman du Malade, but the finest work of art he ever created,greater than his writings,—is his own life and mind.