Editor’s Note
Literature: General Remarks
Literature: Suffering As
   the Fuel of Creativity

Literature: The Relation Between
   the Creator and the Creation

Old Age
Unconscious Memory
Selections From Proust

 edited by L. James Hammond
 © L. James Hammond 2002
 a Proust site in French
 a Proust site in Italian
 a Proust site in English
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Editor’s Note:
The French novelist Marcel Proust was born in 1871, and died in 1922. He is best known for his seven-volume work, Remembrance of Things Past, a novel that draws heavily on the author's own life and experiences.

Throughout his life, Proust was chronically ill, suffering from asthma. During his youth, he frequented high society, and he often describes the social world in his fiction. During his thirties, he began to withdraw from society, and devote himself to his writing. One of his closest acquaintances during that period was his maid, Celeste Albaret; Celeste later wrote Monsieur Proust, a memoir. Another close acquaintance was his chauffeur, Albert Agostinelli; Agostinelli is one of several men for whom Proust appears to have felt a homosexual attraction.

Proust lived through World War I, and the war sometimes appears as a background in his work.

References and Abbreviations:
books about Proust:
Albaret Monsieur Proust, a memoir, by Celeste Albaret
Maurois Proust: A Biography, by André Maurois
Miller Nostalgia: A Psychoanalytic Study of Marcel Proust, by Milton L. Miller
Painter Marcel Proust: A Biography, by George Painter

articles about Proust:
Bychowski "Marcel Proust and His Mother", by Gustav Bychowski, American Imago, spring, 1973
Zilboorg "The Discovery of the Oedipus Complex: Episodes From Marcel Proust", by G. Zilboorg, The Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 1939

by Proust:
SWSwann’s Way
BGWithin a Budding Grove
GWThe Guermantes Way
CPCities of the Plain
TCThe Captive
SCGThe Sweet Cheat Gone
PRThe Past Recaptured
OROn Reading


"[The painter] Elstir [tried] to reproduce things not as he knew them to be but according to the optical illusions of which our first sight of them is composed." (WBG, Seascape, With Frieze of Girls)

Proust compares his impressionistic approach to the approach of impressionist painters and to the approach used by Dostoyevsky: "Even supposing war to be scientific, one would still have to depict it as Elstir did the sea, in inverse order, starting with illusions and beliefs which one corrects bit by bit, as Dostoyevsky would relate the story of a life." (PR, 3)

"People of taste and refinement tell us nowadays that Renoir is one of the great painters of the last century. But in so saying they forget the element of Time, and that it took a great deal of time, well into the present century, before Renoir was hailed as a great artist. To succeed thus in gaining recognition, the original painter, the original writer proceeds on the lines adopted by oculists. The course of treatment they give us by their painting or by their prose is not always agreeable to us. When it is at an end the operator says to us: 'Now look!' And, lo and behold, the world around us (which was not created once and for all, but is created afresh as often as an original artist is born) appears to us entirely different from the old world, but perfectly clear." (GW, Part II)

"It was not so many years since a similar reconstruction of the world, like that which I was waiting now for his successor to produce, had been wrought for me by Bergotte himself. Until I was led to ask myself whether there was indeed any truth in the distinction which we are always making between art, which is no more advanced now than in Homer's day, and science with its continuous progress. Perhaps, on the contrary, art was in this respect like science; each new writer seemed to me to have advanced beyond the stage of his immediate predecessor." (GW, Part II)

"How often...have I been unable to fasten my attention on things or people that later on, as soon as an artist had brought their image before me when I was alone, I would have traveled leagues and risked death to see once more....I might, perhaps, have concluded...that life teaches us to set a lower value on reading and shows us that what the writer praises so highly did not really amount to much; but I might quite as well have concluded that, on the contrary, reading teaches us to set a higher value on life, a value we were not able to estimate and the extent of which only books make us realize." (PR, 1)

Proust speaks of "an illusory magical power in literature". (PR, 1)

Marcel's idea of the actress Berma is changed by a newspaper article: "Immediately my mind had conceived this new idea of 'the purest and most exalted manifestation of dramatic art', it, the idea, sped to join the imperfect pleasure which I had felt in the theater, added to it a little of what was lacking, and their combination formed something so exalting that I cried out within myself: 'What a great artist!'" (WBG, Madame Swann at Home)

Not Berma, but our idea of Berma, moves us. Aesthetic impressions require some explanation, require to be put into words, before they can have their full effect. The waving steeples of Martinville are a mystery to Marcel until he can describe them on paper, and then they fill him with pleasure (Swann's Way, p. 233).
"Let us bear in mind also the travelers who come home enraptured by the general beauty of a tour of which, from day to day, they have felt nothing but the tedious incidents; and let us then declare whether, in the communal life that is led by our ideas in the enclosure of our minds, there is a single one of those that make us most happy which has not first sought, a very parasite, and won from an alien but neighboring idea the greater part of the strength that it originally lacked." (WBG, Madame Swann at Home)

"The critics of each generation confine themselves to maintaining the direct opposite of the truths admitted by their predecessors." (GW, Part II)

This reminds one of Hegel's theory of a dialectic, of thesis followed by antithesis followed by synthesis.
"It is not possible that a piece of sculpture, a piece of music which gives us an emotion which we feel to be more exalted, more pure, more true, does not correspond to some definite spiritual reality. It is surely symbolical of one, since it gives that impression of profundity and truth. Thus nothing resembled more closely than some such phrase of Vinteuil the peculiar pleasure which I had felt at certain moments in my life, when gazing, for instance, at the steeples of Martinville, or at certain trees along a road near Balbec, or, more simply, in the first part of this book, when I tasted a certain cup of tea." (TC, II, 3)
This passage links together two of Proust's main ideas: the idea that art reveals deep truths, truths that daily life doesn't reveal, and the idea that unconscious memory, the memory of a sight, a smell or a taste, can also reveal deep truths.
Proust speaks of, "The deadening effect of habit, which cuts away from things we have seen many times the taproot of deep impression and thought which gives them their real significance." (PR, 2)

The narrator's decision to begin writing a book leads to a number of reflections on the creative process. Proust has no use for literary theories: "I realized that I would not have to trouble myself about the various literary theories that had disturbed me for a time, more especially those the critics developed at the time of the Dreyfus case and revived during the war, which sought to 'make the artist come out of his ivory tower', scorn frivolous or sentimental subjects [and] depict great working-class movements....Leaving one side for the present the consideration of their logical content, these theories seemed to me a proof of inferiority on the part of those who advanced them, just as a really well bred child, hearing some people with whom he has been sent to have luncheon say, 'We speak right out, we are frank', feels that this remark indicates a moral quality inferior to the good deed, pure and simple, which says nothing. True art has no use for so many proclamations and is produced in silence." (PR, 3)

This passage may be a response to charges made against Proust's work, charges that his work was frivolous, that it was preoccupied with high society, etc. A few pages later, Proust speaks of an author who had this charge made against his work: "'His intricate way of writing is suited only to society people'". Surely the author of whom Proust is here speaking is himself.
"A book in which there are theories is like an article from which the price mark has not been removed. And even at that, a price mark merely expresses value, whereas in literature logical reasoning lessens it." (PR, 3)

Like most outstanding writers, Proust had a low opinion of literary critics. Proust said that critics always overrate certain authors and underrate others: "This constant aberration of the critics is such that a writer should almost prefer to be judged by the public at large....For the talent of a great writer--which, after all, is merely an instinct religiously hearkened to (while silence is imposed on everything else) perfected and understood--has more in common with the instinctive life of the people than with the superficial verbiage and fluctuating standards of the conventionally recognised judges." (PR, 3)


"The French nobility...in the final glory of their sunset, which coincided with the fifty years of [Proust's] own existence, [had] fashioned in miniature the last social culture that our world has seen." (Painter, vol. 2, 15)

"Middle-class people in those days took what was almost a Hindu view of society, which they held to consist of sharply defined castes, so that everyone at his birth found himself called to that station in life which his parents already occupied." (SW, Overture)

One of the themes in Proust's work is the penetration of the upper class by the middle class, the disintegration of the caste system.
"I was beginning to learn the exact value of the language, spoken or mute, of aristocratic affability, an affability that is happy to shed balm upon the sense of inferiority in those persons towards whom it is directed, though not to the point of dispelling that sense, for in that case it would no longer have any reason to exist. 'But you are our equal, if not our superior,' the Guermantes seemed, in all their actions, to be saying; and they said it in the most courteous fashion imaginable, to be loved, admired, but not to be believed; that one should discern the fictitious character of this affability was what they called being well-bred; to suppose it to be genuine, a sign of ill-breeding." (CP, I, 1)


"Although he now thought of [his mother] unceasingly, he found to his despair that he could not remember her face. He recalled that she, too, had known the same torment, and confided that she could never call up the image of her beloved mother." (Painter, vol. 2, 2)

Proust: "'Grief isn't single...because regret takes a different form every moment; suggested by the identity of a present impression with some moment of the past, a new disaster, an unknown sorrow strikes one down, as unbearable as the first onset of bereavement'". (Painter, vol. 2, 2)

"[Proust] set to work far more earnestly after his parents' death, and his mourning for them is generally considered to have inspired the greatness of his literary achievement." (Miller, 7)

We may imagine the death of a loved one, but actual death is entirely different from imaginary death: "actual, physical death, so terribly different from the logical abstraction of its possibility". (SW, Combray)

"As I ran my eye over the newspaper, my attention was suddenly arrested by the announcement of [Swann's death], as though traced in mysterious lines interpolated there out of place. They had sufficed to make of a living man some one who can never again respond to what you say to him, to reduce him to a mere name, a written name, that has passed in a moment from the real world to the realm of silence." (TC, I, 2)

"The mysteries of life, of love, of death, in which children imagine in their optimism that they have no share...we perceive with a dolorous pride that they have embodied themselves in the course of years in our own life." (SCG, 1)

The narrator has been separated from two former girlfriends, Gilberte and Albertine; Gilberte he hasn't seen for a long time, Albertine has died. The narrator finds that his attitude toward the two girls is similar, prompting the following observation: "Death acts only in the same way as absence." Proust is preoccupied with grief, and with the gradual dissipation of grief that is brought about by the passage of time. (SCG, 3)

When Proust wrote The Past Recaptured, he was close to death, and was well aware that he was close to death. He was writing from beyond the grave. "The thought of [death] adhered to the deepest stratum of my brain so completely that I could not turn my attention to anything without first relating it to the idea of death and, even if I was not occupied with anything but was in a state of complete repose, the idea of death was with me as continuously as the idea of myself." (PR, 3)

"Doubtless my books also, like my earthly being, would finally some day die. But one must resign oneself to the idea of death. One accepts the idea that in ten years one's self, and in a hundred years one's books, will no longer exist. Eternal existence is not promised to books any more than to men." (PR, 3)


Proust: "'we each carry our own death within us, and we feel when it is there'". (Albaret, 28)

When Saint-Loup calls himself "'a doomed man'", the narrator wonders if "he had a presentiment of his untimely end, basing it, if necessary, on the death of his father, who had died quite young? Such a presentiment doubtless seems impossible. And yet death appears to be subject to certain laws. One would often think, for example, that persons born of parents who lived to an old age or died very young were almost forced to die at the same age, the former dragging along their griefs and their incurable ailments to their hundredth year and the latter, despite a happy and healthful life, being carried off at the inevitable premature date by some malady so timely and so fortuitous (whatever deep roots it may have had in their constitution) that it seems like a formality necessary to the accomplishment of their death. And might it not be possible that even accidental death--like that of Saint-Loup, which was, be it remembered, linked up with his character in more ways, perhaps, than I have thought I should mention--has likewise been recorded in advance, known only to the gods, invisible to men, but which a peculiar melancholy, half-conscious, half-unconscious...reveals to him who bears it within himself and is always conscious of it, like a family motto or a predestined date?" (PR, 2)

"Maybe you think we are not advancing much, but we must not analyse; an army feels itself victorious by a sort of instinctive impression, the way a dying man feels he is done for." (PR, 2)


"The immediate possibility of a reconciliation had suppressed in me that faculty the immense importance of which we are apt to overlook: the faculty of resignation. Neurasthenics find it impossible to believe the friends who assure them that they will gradually recover their peace of mind if they will stay in bed and receive no letters, read no newspapers. They imagine that such a course will only exasperate their twitching nerves. And similarly lovers, who look upon it from their enclosure in a contrary state of mind, who have not begun yet to make trial of it, are unable to believe in the healing power of renunciation." (WBG, Madame Swann at Home)

"As soon as one is unhappy one becomes moral." (WBG, Madame Swann at Home)

"But if [Elstir] had wished to produce with certain people in his mind, in producing he had lived for himself, remote from the society to which he had become indifferent; the practice of solitude had given him a love for it, as happens with every big thing which we have begun by fearing, because we knew it to be incompatible with smaller things to which we clung, and of which it does not so much deprive us as it detaches us from them." (WBG, Seascape, With Frieze of Girls)

"'There is no man,' [Elstir] began, 'however wise, who has not at some period of his youth said things, or lived in a way the consciousness of which is so unpleasant to him in later life that he would gladly, if he could, expunge it from his memory. And yet he ought not entirely to regret it, because he cannot be certain that he has indeed become a wise man--so far as it is possible for any of us to be wise--unless he has passed through all the fatuous or unwholesome incarnations by which that ultimate stage must be preceded....We are not provided with wisdom, we must discover it for ourselves, after a journey through the wilderness which no one else can take for us, an effort which no one can spare us, for our wisdom is the point of view from which we come at last to regard the world.'" (WBG, Seascape, With Frieze of Girls)

"It is, after all, as good a way as any of solving the problem of existence to approach near enough to the things that have appeared to us from a distance to be beautiful and mysterious, to be able to satisfy ourselves that they have neither mystery nor beauty....It gives us a certain tranquillity with which to spend what remains of life, and also since it enables us to regret nothing, by assuring us that we have attained to the best, and that the best was nothing out of the common--with which to resign ourselves to death." (WBG, Seascape, With Frieze of Girls)

"However keen my joy at the moment of [Albertine's] return, I felt that very soon the same difficulties would crop up again and that to seek happiness in the satisfaction of a moral desire was as fatuous as to attempt to reach the horizon by walking straight ahead. The farther the desire advances, the farther does true possession withdraw. So that if happiness or at least freedom from suffering can be found it is not the satisfaction, but the gradual reduction, the eventual extinction of our desire that we must seek. We attempt to see the person whom we love, we ought to attempt not to see her, oblivion alone brings about an ultimate extinction of desire." (SCG, 1)

"There is not a woman in the world the possession of whom is as precious as that of the truths which she reveals to us by causing us to suffer." (SCG, 1)

"We are healed of a suffering only by experiencing it to the full....It was essential that I should live with the idea of Albertine's death, with the idea of her misdeeds, in order that these ideas might become habitual, that is to say that I might be able to forget these ideas and in the end to forget Albertine herself." (SCG, 1)

"When we understand that suffering is the best thing we can encounter in life, we contemplate death without dismay as a sort of emancipation." (PR, 3)

"Our gravest apprehensions, as well as our fondest hopes, are not beyond our strength and we are able in the end to overcome the former and realize the latter." (PR, 3)

At the end of his life, Proust felt that he had succeeded, he had triumphed. His loftiest literary goals had been realized: he had written a great work, and the public had acknowledged its greatness. Furthermore, he had been able to cope with the crises that he had faced: illness, the death of parents and loved ones, and finally his own death.
"All the fruitful forms of altruism in nature follow a selfish pattern in their development; human altruism which is not selfish is sterile, like that of the writer who interrupts his work to receive an unhappy friend, accept a public function or write propaganda articles." (PR, 3)

"At Balbec, once, when a widow who had jumped into the sea had been rescued against her will, my grandmother had told me...that she could think of nothing so cruel as to tear a poor wretch from the death that she had deliberately sought and restore her to her living martyrdom." (GW, Part II)

"Boredom is one of the least of the evils that we have to endure." (CP, II, 3)

"At every moment we must choose between health and sanity on the one hand, and spiritual pleasures on the other. I have always taken the cowardly part of choosing the former." (TC, I, 1)

Proust speaks of, "that greatest vice of all, lack of will power, which makes it impossible to resist any of the others". (PR, 2)


"[Elstir] lavished on me a friendliness which was as far above that of Saint-Loup as that was above the affability of a mere tradesman. Compared with that of a great artist, the friendliness of a great gentleman, charming as it may be, has the effect of an actor's playing a part, of being feigned. Saint-Loup sought to please; Elstir loved to give, to give himself. Everything that he possessed, ideas, work, and the rest which he counted far less, he would have given gladly to anyone who could understand him. But, failing society that was endurable, he lived in an isolation, with a savagery which fashionable people called pose and ill-breeding, public authorities a recalcitrant spirit, his neighbours madness, his family selfishness and pride." (WBG, Seascape, With Frieze of Girls)

Proust in a letter: "'Renan says we must avoid friendship with individuals, Emerson that we should progressively change every friendship for a better....I am growing weary of insincerity and friendship, two things which are practically identical.'" (Painter, vol. 1, 15)

"Conversation [is] a superficial digression which gives us no new acquisition....We are not like buildings to which stones can be added from without, but like trees which draw from their own sap the knot that duly appears on their trunks, the spreading roof of their foliage." (WBG, Seascape, With Frieze of Girls)

The narrator is confident that he can preserve his literary inspiration in the midst of the crowd: "Just as great events have no influence externally on our mental powers, so that a mediocre writer living in an epic period will remain just as mediocre, the real danger in social activity lay in the frivolous inclinations with which one went into it. But in itself it was no more able to make one mediocre than a heroic war could make a bad poet sublime." (PR, 3)


"Edmond Jaloux has given us a delightful picture of Proust in 1917: 'There was, in his very physical appearance, in the atmosphere that he created about himself, something so remarkable that, seeing him, one had a feeling akin to amazement. He did not belong to the common run of mankind, but always produced the impression that he was a figure of a nightmare, or of a different age, almost of a different world--but of what world?'" (Maurois, 9, 2)

"He would sleep until evening then go out and stay up until morning. Then he was gay as a child. A child he was and remained all his life." (Zilboorg)

"Proust was master of the entire range of curiosity....In Swann's Way, we see Marcel's curiosity as that of an eternal child. It was said of the author, when he was an adult, at the time his mother died, that he was still like a four-year-old....The power of his curiosity from primitive senses to his aesthetic and intellectual approach, which was the quest for truth, dominates the complete novel." (Miller, 2)

"Asthma, we are told, is often closely linked to unconscious conflicts and desires, and for Proust it was to be, though a dread master, a faithful servant." (Painter, vol. 1, 1)

Proust "unconsciously preferred his asthma, and the way of life it necessitated, to the health of ordinary beings". (Painter, vol. 2, 3)

Proust's asthma had a psychic cause; Proust used his asthma as a crutch to avoid other problems: "[Proust] himself admitted his illness was psycho-neurotic, but he said he preferred it to unknown evils that might replace it, were he to relinquish it." (Miller, 1)

"When the Narrator learns of the sudden departure of Albertine (most likely his lover Agostinelli), he has again his 'souffle coupé' [interrupted breathing]. The connection between asthma and the anxiety of separation is a well-known clinical fact. According to a recent review of the problems, the asthmatic attack...represents the repressed cry for the mother....The asthmatic person is frequently one with exaggerated dependence on mother. Everything which threatens to separate the patient from the protective mother is apt to precipitate an asthmatic attack." (Bychowski)

"'Submit to being called a neurotic. You belong to that splendid and pitiable family which is the salt of the earth. All the greatest things we know have come to us from neurotics. It is they and they only who have founded religions and created great works of art. Never will the world be conscious of how much it owes to them, nor above all of what they have suffered in order to bestow their gifts on it. We enjoy fine music, beautiful pictures, a thousand exquisite things, but we do not know what they cost those who wrought them in sleeplessness, tears, spasmodic laughter, rashes, asthma, epilepsy, a terror of death which is worse than any of these.'" (GW, Part I)

This passage suggests that Proust viewed his asthma as psycho-somatic, as related to mental illness and related to genius.
"'Neurosis has an absolute genius for malingering. There is no illness which it cannot counterfeit perfectly.'" (GW, Part I)

"My dear Charles -----, whom I used to know when I was still so young and you were nearing your grave, it is because he whom you must have regarded as a little fool has made you the hero of one of his volumes that people are beginning to speak of you again and that your name will perhaps live. If in Tissot's picture representing the balcony of the Rue Royale club, where you figure with Galliffet, Edmond Polignac and Saint-Maurice, people are always drawing attention to yourself, it is because they know that there are some traces of you in the character of Swann." (TC, I, 2)

Like most great writers, Proust was fully conscious of his own genius, and took pride in it.
When Norpois criticizes Marcel's writing, Marcel is shattered: "I felt conscious once again of my intellectual nullity and that I was not born for a literary life." (WBG, Madame Swann at Home)
Proust's confidence was mixed with diffidence--at least when he was young.
While Norpois had damaged Marcel's confidence, Bergotte strengthens it: "After what M. de Norpois had said to me, I had regarded my moments of dreaming, of enthusiasm, of self-confidence as purely subjective and barren of truth. But according to Bergotte, who appeared to understand my case, it seemed that it was quite the contrary, that the symptom I ought to disregard was, in fact, my doubts, my disgust with myself." (WBG, Madame Swann at Home)

"The man of genius, to shelter himself from the ignorant contempt of the world, may say to himself that, since one's contemporaries are incapable of the necessary detachment, works written for posterity should be read by posterity alone, like certain pictures which one cannot appreciate when one stands too close to them. But, as it happens, any such cowardly precaution to avoid false judgments is doomed to failure; they are inevitable. The reason for which a work of genius is not easily admired from the first is that the man who has created it is extraordinary, that few other men resemble him." (WBG, Madame Swann at Home)

Granted that it takes time to appreciate an original work, does it follow that cubism, futurism and other radical tendencies in the arts will someday be appreciated? It's difficult to predict, Proust says, how such radical tendencies will be judged in the future.
"To mount the skies it is not necessary to have the most powerful of motors, one must have a motor which, instead of continuing to run along the earth's surface [is] capable of converting its speed into ascending force. Similarly the men who produce works of genius are not those who live in the most delicate atmosphere, whose conversation is most brilliant or their culture broadest, but those who have had the power, ceasing in a moment to live only for themselves, to make use of their personality as of a mirror....The day on which young Bergotte succeeded in showing to the world of his readers the tasteless household in which he had passed his childhood...on that day he climbed far above the friends of his family, more intellectual and more distinguished than himself; they in their fine Rolls Royces might return home expressing due contempt for the vulgarity of the Bergottes; but he, with his modest engine which had at last left the ground, he soared above their heads." (WBG, Madame Swann at Home)

"I asked myself whether marriage with Albertine would not spoil my life, as well by making me assume the burden, too heavy for my shoulders, of consecrating myself to another person, as by forcing me to live in absence from myself because of her continual presence and depriving me, forever, of the delights of solitude." (TC, I, 1)

This reminds one of all the lonely intellectuals--Schopenhauer, Kierke-gaard, Nietzsche, Kafka, etc.--who avoided and feared marriage.
While most intellectuals love solitude, some draw creative energy from love affairs. Proust says of Bergotte: "He knew that he could never produce such good work as in an atmosphere of amorous feelings....Desire [is] not without its value to the writer in detaching him first of all from his fellow men and from conforming to their standards, and afterwards in restoring some degree of movement to a spiritual machine which, after a certain age, tends to become paralysed." (TC, I, 1)

"We can never believe in the genius of a person with whom we went to the Opera last night." (TC, II, 2)

"He could not do the simplest thing without asking advice of his friends--give a dinner, sell a piece of furniture, send a present of flowers." (Maurois, 1, 3)

"his nervous inability to choose" (Painter, vol. 2, 1)

A friend of Proust's: "[Proust] seemed to us far more anxious to find a way into certain drawing-rooms of the nobility than to devote himself to literature'". (Painter, vol. 1, 8)

The narrator: "'the pleasures of the mind count for very little with me; it is not them that I seek after; indeed I don't even know that I have ever tasted them'". (WBG, Madame Swann at Home)

"'You, who are so fond of the things of intelligence...' [Anatole] France said to [Proust]. 'I am not at all fond of things of the intelligence, but only of life and of movement,' Proust replied." (Maurois, 2, 3)

Proust often envied those who lived a non-intellectual life: "I should have penetrated, in becoming a friend of one of [the little band of girls]--like a cultivated pagan or a meticulous Christian going among barbarians--into a rejuvenating society in which reigned health, unconsciousness of others, sensual pleasures, cruelty, unintellectuality and joy." (WBG, Seascape, With Frieze of Girls)

Proust describes Swann as lazy in his scholarly work, as one who is more interested in life itself than in reading or writing. Swann found an excuse for his laziness in "the idea that 'Life' contains situations more interesting and more romantic than all the romances ever written." Swann had "acquired the habit of finding life interesting--of marveling at the strange discoveries that there were to be made in it." (SW, Swann In Love)

Proust often reproached himself for not sitting down at his desk and working. Proust probably used the same excuse for his laziness that Swann used--life is more interesting than books. Proust wasn't the only writer to believe that life is more interesting than books; "from life", said Kafka, "one can extract comparatively so many books, but from books so little, so very little, life." (Conversations With Kafka, by G. Janouch)
Even after Proust sat down at his desk and became an author, he was still interested in people; in fact, his writing was a way of contacting people. "Perhaps, in those days, [Elstir] lived alone not from indifference but from love of his fellows, and, just as I had renounced Gilberte to appear to her again one day in more attractive colours, dedicated his work to certain people as a way of approaching them again, by which without actually seeing him they would be made to love him, admire him, talk about him." (WBG, Seascape, With Frieze of Girls)


"When at the outbreak of the war [Proust] expected to be called for military duty, he was terribly concerned lest he be summoned at an inconvenient hour of the day. The summons finally arriving, Proust presented himself promptly at three A.M. Naturally he found no one there; he had misread the notice which set the hour for eight A.M." (Zilboorg)

When Norpois comes to dinner, the cook, Françoise, prepares an especially good meal. "Since she attached the utmost importance to the intrinsic quality of the materials which were to enter into the fabric of her work, she had gone herself to the Halles to procure the best cuts of rump-steak, shin of beef, calves'-feet, as Michelangelo passed eight months in the mountains of Carrara choosing the most perfect blocks of marble for the monument of Julius II." (WBG, Madame Swann at Home)

"I attempted to telephone to Andrée; I took hold of the receiver, invoked the implacable deities, but succeeded only in arousing their fury which expressed itself in the single word 'Engaged!' Andrée was indeed engaged in talking to some one else. As I waited for her to finish her conversation, I asked myself how it was...that none of our modern Bouchers or Fragonards had yet painted, instead of 'The Letter' or 'The Harpsichord', this scene which might be entitled 'At the Telephone', in which there would come spontaneously to the lips of the listener a smile all the more genuine in that it is conscious of being unobserved." (TC, I, 1)

"I did not leave the telephone without thanking, in a few propitiatory words, her who reigns over the swiftness of sounds for having kindly employed on behalf of my humble words a power which made them a hundred times more rapid than thunder, but my thanksgiving received no other response than that of being cut off." (TC, I, 1)

"When [M. de Charlus] had perfected...an entirely successful epigram, he was anxious to let it be heard by the largest possible audience, but took care not to admit to the second performance the audience of the first who could have borne witness that the novelty was not novel. He would then rearrange his drawing-room, simply because he did not alter his programme, and, when he had scored a success in conversation, would, if need be, have organised a tour, and given exhibitions in the provinces." (TC, II, 2)

Literature: General Remarks

Proust: "'Wide publicity is a precious thing because it's only in the audience which it provides that chance can bring our words to the fraternal, forever unknown heart which will feel them as we have felt'". (Painter, vol. 2, 9)

"'I am married to my work. All that matters is my writing.'" (Albaret, 15)

Proust: "'Last night I wrote "The End."' And then he added smiling, and with that light in his eyes: 'Now I can die'". (Albaret, 28)

Knowing that he was near death, and not quite finished with his work, Proust feared that he might die before his work was complete. "I felt myself pregnant with the work which I was carrying within me, like some precious and fragile object which had been entrusted to me and which I desired to transmit intact to the other persons for whom it was destined. And to think that, when I went home presently, an accidental shock would suffice to destroy my body and force my mind, from which the life would be withdrawn, to abandon forever the ideas it was at this moment clasping to its bosom and shielding anxiously with its quivering flesh, not yet having had time to put them out of harm's way in a book." (PR, 3)

Proust wrote even on his deathbed, and even used the experience of dying as material for the death of one of characters, Bergotte: "It was on the morning after November 17, when he believed himself much better, and kept his brother near him a long while, that, at about 3 a.m., he called Céleste, and although choking and feeling worse again, he dictated supplementary notes about Bergotte's death....At the very last, there were indecipherable scribblings, in which he tried to write something about Forcheville." (Miller, 1)

"The work of art is our only means of recapturing the past....I understood that all these materials for literary work were nothing else than my past life and that they had come to me in the midst of frivolous pleasures, in idleness, through tender affection and through sorrow, and that I had stored them up without foreseeing their final purpose or even their survival, any more than does the seed when it lays by all the sustenance that is going to nourish the seedling." (PR, 3)

Proust was unconsciously putting together his great work long before he actually began writing it; this is the mark of one who was born to write.
Near the end of Remembrance of Things Past, the narrator attends a party and is forcefully reminded of the passage of time; he realizes that he must set to work on his book: "This idea of time had a final value for me; it was like a goad, reminding me that it was time to begin if I wished to achieve what I had occasionally in the course of my life sensed in brief flashes, along the Guermantes way or while driving with Mme. de Villeparisis, and which had encouraged me to regard life as worth living. How much more so it appeared to me now that I felt it possible to shed light on this life which we live in darkness and to bring back to its former true character this life which we distort unceasingly--in short, extract the real essense of life in a book. Happy the man who could write such a book, I thought to myself; what a mighty task before him! To convey an idea of it, one would have to go to the noblest and most varied arts for comparisons; for this writer, who, moreover, would have to show the most contradictory sides of each of his characters in order to give his volume the effect of a solid, would need to prepare it with minute care, constantly regrouping his forces as if for an attack, endure it like an exhausting task, accept it like a rule of conduct, build it like a church, follow it like a regimen, overcome it like an obstacle, win it like a friendship, feed it intensively like a child, create it like a world, without overlooking those mysteries whose explanation is probably to be found only in other worlds and the presentiment of which is the quality in life and art which moves us most deeply." (PR, 3)

After an experience of unconscious memory, the narrator is determined to begin his literary work without delay: "I intended to resume the very next day my solitary existence, but with a definite purpose this time. I would not even let people come to call on me at my home during my working hours, for the obligation to accomplish my literary task took precedence over the duty to be courteous or even kind. Doubtless the friends who had not seen me for such a long time and who had just met me again and thought me in good health once more would be insistent. They would come with their importunate demands when the toil of the day--or of their lives--was done or interrupted [because] the subjective chronometers allotted to men are not all regulated to keep the same time; one strikes the hour of rest while the other is summoning to work." (PR, 3)

Proust had been storing up ideas for years because he knew from an early age that he was a writer. Referring to himself, Proust speaks of, "A man who from childhood has had but one idea in mind [that is, to write] but has been obliged by indolence and also by ill health continually to postpone the carrying out of that idea and to mark off each evening the day that had slipped away and was gone forever." (PR, 3)

When the narrator begins writing, he recalls his dead mother, who would have loved to know that his literary career, which she had fostered, had finally begun: "The only consolation for her not knowing that I was finally setting myself to work was that--such is the lot of the dead--even if she could not rejoice in my progress, at least she had long since ceased to be conscious of my inactivity, of my wasted life, which had been such a sorrow to her." (PR, 3)

Proust wasn't a precocious writer, like Byron or Keats; it took him many years to reach maturity as a writer. During his twenties he made a thorough study of Ruskin, and translated some of Ruskin's work into French. Though he hadn't yet found himself, he had found a kindred spirit. Few writers find themselves, and reach maturity, before their thirties; the twenties are a time of translation.
Proust: "'It was so easy to write my novel, but how difficult it will be to publish it!'" (Painter, vol. 2, 9)

After Swann's Way was rejected by two publishers, "Proust, by now thoroughly discouraged, resigned himself to having the book published at his own expense....On the advice of Louis de Robert, who was afraid that if Proust published at his own expense, he would be regarded as a dilettante, the manuscript was submitted to yet another firm [which replied]: 'Dear friend: I may be thicker skinned than most, but I just can't understand why anyone should take thirty pages to describe how he tosses about in bed because he can't get to sleep. I clutched my head.'" Proust then proceeded to publish Swann's Way at his own expense. (Maurois, 9, 1)

Delay in the publication of Swann's Way enabled Proust to improve it. (Painter, vol. 2, 9)

Proust admired the English novelist, Thomas Hardy. "Proust saw in Hardy's Jude the Obscure, The Well-Beloved, and A Pair of Blue Eyes the same nucleus. He recognized the same basic content in all the work of any one artist." (Miller, 10)

"The great men of letters have never created more than a single work, or rather have never done more than refract through various mediums an identical beauty which they bring into the world." (TC, II, 3)

"Reading is a friendship [and] the fact that it is directed to one who is dead, who is absent, gives it something disinterested, almost moving." (OR)

Descartes: "'The reading of all good books is like a conversation with the most cultivated men of past centuries who have been their authors'". (OR)

"When I had found, one day, in a book by Bergotte, some joke about an old family servant...which was in principle what I had often said to my grandmother about Françoise...then it was suddenly revealed to me that my own humble existence and the Realms of Truth were less widely separated than I had supposed, that at certain points they were actually in contact; and in my new-found confidence and joy I wept upon his printed page, as in the arms of a long-lost father." (SW, Combray)

"It is quite possible that, to produce a literary work, imagination and sensibility are interchangeable qualities and that the latter can, without much disadvantage, be substituted for the former, just as people whose stomach is unable to digest food charge their intestines with this function. A man born sensitive to impressions but without imagination, might nevertheless write admirable novels." (PR, 3)

Proust thought of himself as one who was "without imagination", and this troubled him in his youth. Later, however, he accepted himself as he was, and resolved to write a novel based on sensibility instead of imagination. Since his work is highly original, and unlike any novel previously written, it isn't surprising that it took him many years to develop himself as a writer, and attain artistic maturity. The more original the writer, the longer it takes him to find himself, to accept himself, and to reach maturity.
"We are very slow in recognizing in the peculiar physiognomy of a new writer the type which is labelled 'great talent' in our museum of general ideas. Simply because that physiognomy is new and strange, we can find in it no resemblance to what we are accustomed to call talent. We say rather originality, charm, delicacy, strength; and then one day we add up the sum of these, and find that it amounts simply to talent." (SW, Combray)

"Sainte-Beuve maintained that the supreme test of critical insight lay in ability to detect genius among one's contemporaries." (Painter, vol. 2, 6)

"A man of letters, merely by reading a phrase, can estimate exactly the literary merit of its author." (SW, Swann In Love)

Proust pretends that the narrator has written an article in the Figaro, just as he himself often wrote articles in that newspaper. This gives Proust an opportunity to discuss how writers in general feel about their own work: "Those phrases in my article, when I wrote them, were so colourless in comparison with my thought, so complicated and opaque in comparison with my harmonious and transparent vision, so full of gaps which I had not managed to fill, that the reading of them was a torture to me, they had only accentuated in me the sense of my own impotence and of my incurable want of talent." But then the narrator reads his article again, from a different viewpoint: "I read the article forcing myself to imagine that it was written by some one else. Then all my images, all my reflexions, all my epithets taken by themselves and without the memory of the check which they had given to my intentions, charmed me by their brilliance, their amplitude, their depth." (SCG, 2)

"Each reader reads only what is already within himself. The book is only a sort of optical instrument which the writer offers to the reader to enable the latter to discover in himself what he would not have found but for the aid of the book." (PR, 3)

Just as a book, according to Proust, is what we make of it, so too the world in general is what we make of it: "Only superficial and defective observation attaches all importance to the object, when the mind is everything." (PR, 3)

Literature: Suffering As the Fuel of Creativity

Proust often returns to the theme that suffering is the root of great art: "When some insolent fellow insults us, we would have preferred that he praise us; and still more, when a woman we adore betrays us, what would we not give to have it otherwise! But our resentment of the insult, our grief over the desertion will then prove to be strange lands which we would otherwise never have known and the discovery of which, however painful to the man, becomes priceless to the artist. And that is why the mean-spirited and the ingrate figure in his work, in spite of him and them. The pamphleteer involuntarily shares his fame with the rascal he has pilloried. One can recognise in every work of art the men whom the artist has hated most intensely and, alas, even the women he has loved most deeply." (PR, 3)

However painful suffering may be when one experiences it, Proust says that it makes one feel good to look back on past sufferings, especially if one can generalize about them and express them in writing: "When we endeavour to extract the general qualities from our sorrow and to write about it, we are somewhat consoled...Thinking in terms of generalities and writing comprise for the writer a healthful and indispensable function, the fulfilling of which brings happiness, as do for a man of a physical type exercise, sweating and the bath." (PR, 3)

Suffering, according to Proust, always teaches one something: "When life walls us in, our intelligence cuts an opening, for, though there be no remedy for an unrequited love, one can win release from suffering, even if only by drawing from it the lessons it has to teach. The intelligence does not recognise in life any closed situations without an outlet." (PR, 3)

Compare Joyce: "A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery." (Ulysses, ch. 9)
Suffering makes one wise and teaches one to die; it also can lead to death: "Happiness is beneficial for the body but it is grief that develops the powers of the mind. It is true that grief, which is not compatible with happiness or health, is sometimes prejudicial also to life. In the end, sorrow kills." One thinks of Proust's mother, whose sorrow over the deaths of her mother and her husband hastened her own death. (PR, 3)

"As for happiness, it has hardly more than one useful quality, namely to make unhappiness possible. In our happiness, we should form very sweet bonds, full of confidence and attachment, in order that the sundering of them may cause us that priceless rending of the heart which is called unhappiness." (PR, 3)

"Works of art, like artesian wells, mount higher in proportion as the suffering has more deeply pierced the heart." (PR, 3)

Compare Kierkegaard: "What is a poet? An unhappy man who in his heart harbors a deep anguish, but whose lips are so fashioned that the moans and cries which pass over them are transformed into ravishing music....And men crowd about the poet and say to him, 'Sing for us soon again'--which is as much as to say, 'May new sufferings torment your soul'." (Either/Or, "Diapsalmata")
Proust told a writer that "one should seek...not for happiness, but for disaster! 'I have never made any money on the stock-exchange,' he added, 'but the important thing in gambling is to lose'". (Painter, vol. 2, 8)
Disaster puts one in touch with oneself; suffering fuels creativity.

Literature: The Relation Between the Creator and the Creation

Proust: "'A book is the product of a different self from the one we manifest in our habits, in society, in our vices'". (Painter, vol. 2, 6)

Proust suggests that the most immoral writers have the deepest understanding of morality. Perhaps Proust is defending his own private life. (WBG, Madame Swann at Home)

"The admirers of his work are disappointed in its author, upon whose face that internal beauty is imperfectly reflected." (TC, I, 1)

"Art...makes the man himself apparent, rendering externally visible in the colours of the spectrum the intimate composition of those worlds which we call individual persons and which, without the aid of art, we should never know." (TC, II, 2)

Norpois on Bergotte: "'With him, the work is infinitely superior to the author. Ah! there is a man who justifies the wit who insisted that one ought never to know an author except through his books.'" (WBG, Madame Swann at Home)

Proust discusses the difference between a writer's work and his private life, between the personality that he exhibits in his works and that which he exhibits in daily life. "One could hear, alternating with the speech of the true Bergotte, that of the other Bergotte, ambitious, utterly selfish, who thought it not worth his while to speak of any but his powerful, rich or noble friends, so as to enhance his own position, he who in his books, when he was really himself, had so well portrayed the charm, pure as a mountain spring, of poverty." (WBG, Madame Swann at Home)

While Proust emphasizes the difference between creator and creation, Sainte-Beuve had emphasized the close connection between them: "'An author's writing is inseparable from the rest of him'", Sainte-Beuve said. (Painter, vol. 2, 6)

Every imaginative writer is well suited for certain topics, poorly suited for other topics. "Proust's weakest aspects were in his delineation of parts of life he did not really experience, particularly real parenthood and the genuine heterosexual urges connected with it....The pure joy of successful physical activity is usually absent from his imagery. A virile, masculine attitude toward work, and innate joy of mastery of a physical task, the release of excess energy in physical ways, the exuberance of health, are scarcely a part of what he is equipped by experience to tell." (Miller, 17)


"Swann's love [was] so closely interwoven with all his habits, with all his actions, with his thoughts, his health, his sleep, his life...was so entirely one with him that it would have been impossible to wrest it away without almost entirely destroying him; as surgeons say, his case was past operation." (SW, Swann In Love)

"Very few people understand the purely subjective nature of the phenomenon that we call love, or how it creates, so to speak, a fresh, a third, a supplementary person, distinct from the person whom the world knows by the same name, a person most of whose constituent elements are derived from ourself, the lover." (WBG, Madame Swann at Home)

When Swann falls in love with another woman, he experiences the same jealousy that he had previously experienced in his relationship with Odette. He experiences once again "the old anguish, that lamentable and inconsistent excrescence of his love, which held Swann ever at a distance from what she really was, like a yearning to attain the impossible (what this young woman really felt for him, the hidden longing that absorbed her days, the secret places of her heart)." (WBG, Madame Swann at Home)

"Amorous curiosity is like that which is aroused in us by the names of places; perpetually disappointed, it revives and remains for ever insatiable." (TC, I, 1)

"There can be no peace of mind in love, since the advantage one has secured is never anything but a fresh starting-point for further desires." (WBG, Madame Swann at Home)

"Love...ever unsatisfied, lives always in the moment that is about to come." (WBG, Seascape, With Frieze of Girls)

"What Proust, in fact, maintains is that love is incapable of bringing happiness." (Maurois, 7, 2)

Swann is jealous of Odette, and suffers through his jealousy: "Like an evil deity, his jealousy was inspiring Swann, was thrusting him on towards destruction." (SW, Swann In Love)

"I could scarcely imagine that that strange substance which was housed in Gilberte, and from her permeated her parents and her home, leaving me indifferent to all things else, could be liberated from her, could migrate into another person." (WBG, Madame Swann at Home)

"As time went on, every refusal to see [Gilberte] disturbed me less." (WBG, Madame Swann at Home)

"A certain similarity exists, although the type evolves, between all the women we love, a similarity that is due to the fixity of our own temperament, which it is that chooses them, eliminating all those who would not be at once our opposite and our complement, fitted that is to say to gratify our senses and to wring our heart." (WBG, Seascape, With Frieze of Girls)

"A man has almost always the same way of catching cold, and so forth; that is to say, he requires to bring about the event a certain combination of circumstances; it is natural that when he falls in love he should love a certain class of woman, a class which for that matter is very numerous." (SCG, 1)

"The woman whose face we have before our eyes more constantly than light itself...this unique woman--we know quite well that it would have been another woman that would now be unique to us if we had been in another town than that in which we made her acquaintance, if we had explored other quarters of the town, if we had frequented the house of a different hostess. Unique, we suppose; she is innumerable. And yet she is compact, indestructible in our loving eyes, irreplaceable for a long time to come by any other." (SCG, 1)

"For me really to love Andrée, she was too intellectual, too neurotic, too sickly, too much like myself." (WBG, Seascape, With Frieze of Girls)

"The coupling of contrary elements is the law of life, the principle of fertilization, and, as we shall see, the cause of many disasters. As a general rule, we detest what resembles ourself, and our own faults when observed in another person infuriate us....It is because the similarity is too great that, in spite of family affection, and sometimes all the more the greater the affection is, families are divided." (TC, I, 1)

"No doubt, albeit each one of us speaks mendaciously of the pleasure...of being loved, it is a general law...that the person whom we do not love and who does love us seems to us quite intolerable. To such a person, to a woman of whom we say not that she loves us but that she bores us, we prefer the society of any other, who has neither her charm, nor her looks, nor her brains. She will recover these, in our estimation, only when she has ceased to love us." (CP, II, 2)

Once Swann falls completely in love with Odette, Odette grows cool to Swann; Proust speaks of, "the excess of his own passion which, in a pair of lovers, fully and finally dispenses the recipient from the obligation to love the other enough." (SW, Swann In Love)

"[Love] is born, it survives only if some part remains for it to conquer. We love only what we do not wholly possess." (TC, I, 1)

"If prostitutes themselves...attract us so little, it is not because they are less beautiful than other women, it is because they are ready and waiting; the very object that we are seeking to attain they offer us already; it is because they are not conquests." (TC, I, 1)

"As for Swann himself [Odette] knew intimately those traits of character of which the rest of the world must remain ignorant or merely laugh at them....Amours of long standing have something of the sweetness and strength of family affection." (WBG, Madame Swann at Home)


"One never finds quite as high as one has been expecting a cathedral, a wave in a storm, a dancer's leap in the air." (WBG, Madame Swann at Home)

"My grandmother considered light reading as unwholesome as sweets and cakes. [She said] 'I could not allow myself to give the child anything that was not well written.'" (SW, Overture)

"Sometimes our attention throws a different light upon things which we have long known, and we remark in them what we have never seen before." (TC, I, 1)

Swann had "one of those advantages which men who have lived and moved in the world enjoy over others [who] have never gone into society, namely that they no longer see it transfigured by the longing or repulsion with which it fills the imagination, but regard it as quite unimportant." (SW, Swann In Love)

"As the average span of life, the relative longevity of our memories of poetical sensations is much greater than that of our memories of what the heart has suffered, long after the sorrows that I once felt on Gilberte's account have faded and vanished, there has survived them the pleasure that I still derive--whenever I close my eyes and read, as it were upon the face of a sundial, the minutes that are recorded between a quarter past twelve and one o'clock in the month of May--from seeing myself once again strolling and talking thus with Mme. Swann beneath her parasol, as though in the colored shade of a wistaria bower." (WBG, Madame Swann at Home)

"Each morning war is declared all over again. Therefore, the one who wants to keep it up is as guilty as the one who began it--possibly more so, for perhaps the latter did not foresee all its horrors. Now, there is nothing to assure us that a war which lasts so long, even if it should have a victorious outcome, is entirely without its dangers....What will the men do when they come back?....Such a situation might take a very bad turn, if not for the country, at least for the government, perhaps even for our form of government." (PR, 2)

"By varying the hour, the place at which we go to sleep, by wooing sleep in an artificial manner, or on the contrary by returning for once to natural sleep--the strangest kind of all to whoever is in the habit of putting himself to sleep with soporifics--we succeed in producing a thousand times as many varieties of sleep as a gardener could produce of carnations or roses." (TC, I, 1)

"Sleep is divine but by no means stable; the slightest shock makes it volatile....It is like youth and love, never to be recaptured." (TC, I, 1)

"At Combray a person whom one 'didn't know at all' was as incredible a being as any mythological deity." (SW, Combray)

"An inherited timidity and melancholy, when she was brought face to face with any object unknown to her fathers, prevented [Françoise] from approaching a telephone receiver, although she would readily visit a person suffering from a contagious disease." (TC, I, 1)

"There was something of an elective affinity between Proust and Ruskin....By devoting five or six years to the study of Ruskin, Proust submitted to a spiritual discipline which made his full development possible....It was in the matter of style that Ruskin's influence on Proust was decisive." (Maurois, 4, 2)

"Proust enjoyed his life in the army....He begged Colonel Arvers to be allowed to stay on for a few months." (Painter, vol. 1, 6)

"The capacity for profitable reading [is] far greater with the thinkers than with the great imaginative writers. Schopenhauer, for instance, offers us the image of a mind whose vitality bears lightly the most enormous reading." (OR)

"The whole sky was formed of that radiant and almost pale blue which the wayfarer lying down in a field sees at times above his head, but so consistent, so intense, that he feels that the blue of which it is composed has been utilized without any alloy and with such an inexhaustible richness that one might delve more and more deeply into its substance without encountering an atom of anything but that same blue." (TC, II, 3)


"There were in this [musical] passage some admirable ideas which Swann had not distinguished on first hearing the sonata, and which he now perceived, as if they had, in the cloakroom of his memory, divested themselves of their uniform disguise of novelty." (SW, Swann In Love)

"Often one listens and hears nothing, if it is a piece of music at all complicated to which one is listening for the first time. And yet when, later on, this sonata had been played over to me two or three times I found that I knew it quite well....If one had indeed, as one supposes, received no impression from the first hearing, the second, the third would be equally 'first hearings' and there would be no reason why one should understand it any better after the tenth." (WBG, Madame Swann at Home)

Proust compares this unconscious learning to the way a student memorizes a lesson while sleeping, and to the way one remembers a name when one isn't thinking about it.

Proust says it takes longest to learn the best parts of a musical piece. By that time, one no longer enjoys the parts that one enjoyed first, since they have been rendered insipid by habit.

Old Age

"Aunt Léonie who, since her husband's death, had gradually declined to leave, first Combray, then her house in Combray, then her bedroom, and finally her bed; and who now never 'came down', but lay perpetually in an indefinite condition of grief, physical exhaustion, illness, obsessions, and religious observances." (SW, Combray)

"The process which had begun in her [was] the great and general renunciation which old age makes in preparation for death, the chrysalis stage of life, which may be observed wherever life has been unduly prolonged." (SW, Combray)


"If ever anything was bothering me I tried to keep it to myself. But though I was quite sure I wasn't letting it show, he always saw immediately." (Albaret, 18)

"Like those primitive men whose senses were so much keener than our own, she could immediately detect, by signs imperceptible by the rest of us, the truth or falsehood of anything that we might wish to conceal from her." (SW, Overture)

"The truth has no need to be uttered to be made apparent...one may perhaps gather it with more certainty, without waiting for words, without even bothering one's head about them, from a thousand outward signs, even from certain invisible phenomena, analogous in the sphere of human character to what in nature are atmospheric changes. I might perhaps have suspected this, since to myself at that time it frequently occurred that I said things in which there was no vestige of truth, while I made the real truth plain by all manner of involuntary confidences expressed by my body and in my actions (which were at once interpreted by Françoise)." (GW, Part I)

"We can immediately detect the language of passion...unexpressed as it happens, but revealing itself at once to the listener by an intuitive faculty which [is] the most widespread thing in the world." (TC, II, 3)

"Albertine never related facts that were capable of injuring her, but always other facts which could be explained only by them, the truth being rather a current which flows from what people say to us, and which we apprehend, invisible as it may be, than the actual thing that they say." (CP, II, 3)

"M. de Charlus observed this hesitation; and yet he had not raised his eyes. But just as deaf-mutes detect, from a movement of the air imperceptible to other people, that some one is standing behind them, so he had, to warn him of other people's coldness towards him, a positive hyperaesthesia." (CP, II, 3)

"the look that was always so strong that you felt it watching or following you" (Albaret, 28)

Foresees with "that sort of magical power he had" that a fish store is out of a certain kind of fish. (Albaret, 7)

"[I] uttered the word death, as though Albertine were about to die. It seems that events are larger than the moment in which they occur and cannot confine themselves in it. Certainly they overflow into the future through the memory that we retain of them, but they demand a place also in the time that precedes them." (TC, II, 3)

Proust seemed to foresee Agostinelli's death: "In the first rage of betrayal, and with eerie foresight, Proust cruelly wrote [Agostinelli]: 'you can tell your wife that if (which heaven forbid) you should have an airplane accident, she will find in me neither a protector nor a friend, and will never get a halfpenny from me'. In 1907, possibly divining in Agostinelli the passion for speed which is sometimes a disguised love of death, Proust had written with a similar presentiment: 'may the steering-wheel of my young mechanic remain for ever the symbol of his talent, rather than the prefiguration of his martyrdom!'" (Painter, vol. 2, 10)

"The main narrative of La Prisonnière and Albertine Disparue--the flight to Paris, the captivity, the escape, the death, the Narrator's posthumous jealousy and slow oblivion--indubitably retells the true story of Proust's love for Agostinelli. Yet it is as certain as it is strange that the earliest plot of A la Recherche [written before Agostinelli's captivity, escape and death] followed a similar course....It is as though Proust imposed upon his love for Agostinelli the pre-existing pattern not only of his total previous experience of love in his own life, but of the climax of his novel. Agostinelli was conducted along the road to his tragic end by the ineluctable mechanism of a work of art....A la Recherche is a work consecrated by two human sacrifices, the deaths of Mme. Proust and Agostinelli, for which Proust himself, in his own mind and in fact, was partly responsible....'When I juxtaposed the deaths of my grandmother and Albertine I felt that my life was defiled by a double murder', says the Narrator." (Painter, vol. 2, 10)

This reminds one of Oscar Wilde's paradox that 'we always kill the thing we love'.
"Sometimes [Swann] hoped that [Odette] would die, painlessly, in some accident, she who was out of doors in the streets, crossing busy thoroughfares, from morning to night....Swann felt a very cordial sympathy with that Mahomet II...who, on finding that he had fallen madly in love with one of his wives, stabbed her, in order...to recover his spiritual freedom." (SW, Swann In Love) This passage was written before Proust fell in love with Agostinelli.


Proust seems to believe that everyone is capable of virtue, and everyone is capable of vice: "There was not a single one of the people whom he knew who might not, in certain circumstances, prove capable of a shameful action." (SW, Swann In Love)

"Each one of us is not a single person, but contains many persons who have not all the same moral value...if a vicious Albertine had existed, it did not mean that there had not been others." (SCG, 1)

"A person does not...stand motionless and clear before our eyes with his merits, his defects, his plans, his intentions with regard to ourself exposed on his surface...but is a shadow which we can never succeed in penetrating...a shadow behind which we can alternately imagine, with equal justification, that there burns the flame of hatred and of love." (GW, Part I)

"We ought never to feel resentment towards other people, ought never to judge them by some memory of an unkind action, for we do not know all the good that, at other moments, their hearts may have sincerely desired and realised; no doubt the evil form which we have established once and for all will recur, but the heart is far more rich than that, has many other forms that will recur....I am brought up against the difficulty of presenting a permanent image as well of a character as of societies and passions. For it changes no less than they, and if we seek to portray what is relatively unchanging in it, we see it present in succession different aspects (implying that it cannot remain still but keeps moving) to the disconcerted artist." (TC, II, 2)

"Self-centredness [enables] every human being to see the universe spread out in a descending scale beneath himself who is its lord." (WBG, Place-Names: The Place, continuation)

"They did, indeed, give a thought to the hecatombs of regiments annihilated, of passengers swallowed up by the sea, but, by two contrary operations, what concerns our well-being is multiplied, and what does not is divided, by a figure so enormous that the death of millions of people whom we do not know barely touches us, and almost less unpleasantly than a current of air." (PR, 2)

"Their love--and consequently their fear--of the crowd being one of the most powerful motives in all men, whether they seek to please other people or to astonish them, or to show them that they despise them." (WBG, Seascape, With Frieze of Girls)

"The faithful burst out laughing and they suggested a band of cannibals in whom the sight of a wound on a white man's skin has aroused the thirst for blood. For the instinct of imitation and absence of courage govern society and the mob alike. And we all of us laugh at a person whom we see being made fun of, which does not prevent us from venerating him ten years later in a circle where he is admired. It is in like manner that the populace banishes or acclaims its kings." (CP, II, 2)

"The features of our face are hardly more than gestures which force of habit has made permanent. Nature, like the destruction of Pompeii, like the metamorphosis of a nymph into a tree, has arrested us in an accustomed movement." (WBG, Seascape, With Frieze of Girls)

"Who has not remarked how often the most normal couples end by resembling each other, at times even by an exchange of qualities? A former German Chancellor, Prince von Bülow, married an Italian. In the course of time, on the Pincio, it was remarked how much the Teutonic husband had absorbed of Italian delicacy, and the Italian Princess of German coarseness." (CP, I, 1)

"Aesthetically the number of types of humanity is so restricted that we must constantly, wherever we may be, have the pleasure of seeing people we know.... Thus it happened that in the first few days of our visit to Balbec I had succeeded in finding Legrandin, Swann's hall porter and Mme. Swann herself, transformed into a waiter, a foreign visitor whom I never saw again and a bathing superintendent." (WBG, Place-Names: The Place)

"I was astonished to find that...the torture chamber which a new place of residence is could appear to some people a 'continuous amusement'....It is our noticing them that puts things in a room, our growing used to them that takes them away again and clears a space for us. Space there was none for me in my bedroom (mine in name only) at Balbec; it was full of things which did not know me, which flung back at me the distrustful look that I had cast at them, and, without taking any heed of my existence, shewed that I was interrupting the course of theirs. The clock--whereas at home I heard my clock tick only a few seconds in a week, when I was coming out of some profound meditation--continued without a moment's interruption to utter, in an unknown tongue, a series of observations which must have been most uncomplimentary to myself, for the violet curtains listened to them without replying, but in an attitude such as people adopt who shrug their shoulders to indicate that the sight of a third person irritates them." (WBG, Place-Names: The Place)

Proust often points out that reality is our perception of reality. He doesn't believe in a sharp distinction between imagination and reality. Even the distinction between dream and reality is blurred in memory: "There is no great difference between the memory of a dream and the memory of a reality." (SCG, 3)

"At the age of thirteen, [Proust] gave the following answer to a questionnaire: 'What is, for you, the peak of misery?'...'To be separated from Mamma.'" (Miller, 1)

Miller says that, in Proust's work, the "symbolism of the sea predominates" and that this lends "a regressive element". (Miller, 9)

"Venice, the city with watery streets, has been Marcel's ideal as the place to visit; Noah was Proust's favorite biblical character....All of these marine or celestial images, typically Proustian, are usually connected with unconscious references to pregnancy, birth, or womb." (Miller, 10)

"[Proust's] homosexuality, whatever its physiological components, definitely seems related to the pattern of a love he felt toward his beautiful, sensitive, somewhat nervous and domineering mother. This love was unbearable, partly because of jealous rivalries (with the father at the most repressed level, with his brother on a more conscious or preconscious level). The torments of this love resulted in introjection of his mother image, identification with her femininity, her sensitivity." (Miller, 12)

Proust's father was a doctor, a government official, and a busy man. "The father's frequent absences [left Proust] mainly female images with which to identify [and that] upset his development and prevented masculine identification." (Miller, 12)

"The wish for a total mutual absorption between the beloved mother and himself reveals itself as a leading motif in symbiotic love with its clearly oral implications. No closeness to the love object is ever satisfying to Proust unless it is unlimited in time and space. This is apparent in the basic scene [with his mother] and becomes even clearer in all the derivatives of other possessive, all-encompassing love situations, whether they are focused on an Albertine or an Albert." (Bychowski)

"We see orality permeating a seemingly more adult erotic situation. In one of the most impressive derivatives of the basic scene, we read of Albertine (or Albert?) who 'every night, rather late, before leaving me, slipped her tongue deep in my mouth, like everyday bread, like a nourishing aliment'." (Bychowski)

"We must consider the elements of ambivalence embedded in this all-encompassing symbiotic love [of Proust for his mother]. Since the maternal good night visit never seemed to be long enough, and little Marcel inevitably asked for more, he could not help seeing his mother assuming an expression of anger." (Bychowski)

Proust had an "ambivalent love-hatred for his mother". (Painter, vol. 2, 3)

"In the questionnaire Proust answered at twenty-one...he said he most admired masculine traits in women, such as frankness and comradeship, and in men, feminine charm. We see these preferences portrayed in his main characters. It is as if he wanted to assure himself that women had phalluses and men were really not potent; then he could identify, safely, with either one." (Miller, 12)

"Sexual temptation has almost held Marcel in Venice in the person of Madame Putbus's maid whom he has always been pursuing. But he cannot face separation from his mother by sexual temptation--and makes the choice which seems characteristic for many asthmatics--that is, he renounces sex and goes back to his mother." (Miller, 13)

"The Freudian equation of money and love was particularly strong in Proust: all his life he had expected and taken love and money from his parents, to spend on his friends." (Painter, vol. 1, 15)

Proust on his feelings after Agostinelli's death: "'I knew what it was to hope, every time I took a taxi, that an oncoming motor-bus would run me over'". (Painter, vol. 2, 10)

"He was an extraordinary presence." (Albaret, 2)

"There is reason to suspect that despite his hunger for admiration, in the depths of his personality Proust really did not enjoy people. His apparent eagerness to efface himself and his gracious manner were a facade. Pierre-Quint who knew him well says: 'This exaggerated politeness of his was but a mask for disdain; it was a method to protect himself from people, to stop them at the very entrance of his personality and, without offending anyone, to preserve his own self in a state of absolute independence'." (Zilboorg)

"[Proust] was a trifle too suave, too complimentary, and, because his habit of flattery was in fact a form of defense mechanism, found compensation in moods of pitiless criticism....An excess of tenderness could, with him, by a curious transmutation, be changed into cruelty." (Maurois, 1, 3)

On Legrandin's snobbery: "It was like every attitude or action which reveals a man's deep and hidden character; they bear no relation to what he has previously said, and we cannot confirm our suspicions by the culprit's evidence, for he will admit nothing; we are reduced to the evidence of our own senses, and we ask ourselves, in the face of this detached and incoherent fragment of recollection, whether indeed our senses have not been the victims of a hallucination." (SW, Combray)

"It was because of his own homosexual interests that he was so extremely sensitive and so incurably suspicious of lesbian ties binding what he called les petites bandes." (Bychowski)

"As a rule it is with our being reduced to a minimum that we live, most of our faculties lie dormant because they can rely upon Habit, which knows what there is to be done and has no need of their services. But on this morning of travel, the interruption of the routine of my existence, the change of place and time had made their presence indispensable." (WBG, Place-Names: The Place)

"'I was seized with a mad desire to ravish little sleeping towns' [Proust] wrote to Lauris, using the sexual imagery which he so often associated with travel" (Painter, vol. 1, 16)

"I had a desire for a peasant-girl from Méséglise or Roussainville, for a fisher-girl from Balbec, just as I had a desire for Balbec and Méséglise." (SW, Combray)

"This very parallel between desire and travel made me vow to myself that one day I would grasp a little more closely the nature of this force, invisible but as powerful as any faith, or as, in the world of physics, atmospheric pressure, which exalted to such a height cities and women so long as I did not know them, and slipped away from beneath them as soon as I had approached them, made them at once collapse and fall flat upon the dead level of the most commonplace reality." (TC, I, 1)

"Dreams are not to be converted into reality, that we know; we would not form any, perhaps, were it not for desire, and it is useful to us to form them in order to see them fail and to be instructed by their failure." (TC, I, 1)

"If I had not derived any pleasure from my first hearing of Berma, it was because, as earlier still when I used to meet Gilberte in the Champs-Elysées, I had come to her with too strong a desire." (GW, Part I)

"Desire is very powerful, it engenders belief; I had believed that Albertine would not leave me because I desired that she might not. Because I desired it, I began to believe that she was not dead; I took to reading books upon table-turning, I began to believe in the possibility of the immortality of the soul....I felt coexisting in myself the certainty that she was dead and the incessant hope that I might see her come into the room." (SCG, 1)

On masturbation: "With the heroic scruples of a traveler setting forth for unknown climes...I explored...an untrodden path which, I believed, might lead me to my death." (SW, Combray)

Note the connection between sex and death, and between death and travel.
"Children who have intercourse for the first time or, even before that, seek solitary gratification, imagine that they are like a plant that scatters its pollen, only to die immediately thereafter." (PR, 2)


Swann was uneasy when Odette was by herself: "to allow so pretty a woman to go out by herself in Paris was just as rash as to leave a case filled with jewels in the middle of the street." (SW, Swann In Love) This passage shows Proust's skill with metaphors.

"[Proust's] style is neither that of his contemporaries nor that of the preceding generation, but belongs in the late seventeenth century." (Zilboorg)

"Such was [Proust's] skill in taking to pieces the mechanism of the supreme styles, that he could parody them with a skill which led Jules Lemaître to say: 'It makes one afraid to write. It is more than extraordinary, it is terrifying.'" (Maurois, 3, 5)

Debussy on Proust's conversation: "'he's longwinded and precious and a bit of an old woman'". (Painter, vol. 1, 15)

Proust speaks of the variety in Bergotte's prose. "So it is with all great writers, the beauty of their language is as incalculable as that of a woman whom we have never seen; it is creative, because it is applied to an external object of which, and not of their language or its beauty, they are thinking, to which they have not yet given expression....The true variety is in this abundance of real and unexpected elements...whereas the purely formal imitation of variety (and one might advance the same argument for all the other qualities of style) is but a barren uniformity, that is to say the very antithesis of variety." (WBG, Madame Swann at Home)

"With a great musician...his playing is that of so fine a pianist that one cannot even be certain whether the performer is a pianist at all, since...his playing is become so transparent, so full of what he is interpreting, that himself one no longer sees and he is nothing now but a window opening upon a great work of art." (GW, Part I)

"There are certain original and distinguished authors in whom the least 'freedom of speech' is thought revolting because they have not begun by flattering the public taste, and serving up to it the commonplace expressions to which it is used; it was by the same process that Swann infuriated M. Verdurin. In his case as in theirs it was the novelty of his language which led his audience to suspect the blackness of his designs." (SW, Swann In Love)

"Habit forms the style of the writer just as much as the character of the man, and the author who has more than once been patient to attain, in the expression of his thoughts, to a certain kind of attractiveness, in so doing lays down unalterably the boundaries of his talent." (WBG, Madame Swann at Home)

What prompts a writer to choose "a certain kind of attractiveness"? Partly temperament and taste, partly an ideal or model. A writer who has a high ideal, who emulates the best writers, won't be satisfied until he reaches that level in his own writing.

Proust's remark reminds one of Gibbon, who said that he had trouble finding the right tone for The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, but once he found it, he was able to maintain it throughout his lengthy work.


"In theory one is aware that the earth revolves, but in practice one does not perceive it, the ground upon which one treads seems not to move, and one can live undisturbed. So it is with Time in one's life." (WBG, Madame Swann at Home)

"The soldier is convinced that a certain interval of time, capable of being indefinitely prolonged, will be allowed him before the bullet finds him, the thief before he is taken, men in general before they have to die." (WBG, Madame Swann at Home)

"Society arranges successively in different orders elements which one would have supposed to be immovable, and composes a fresh pattern....This does not, however, prevent the people who move in it from imagining, whenever society is stationary for the moment, that no further change will occur, just as in spite of having witnessed the birth of the telephone they decline to believe in the aeroplane." (WBG, Madame Swann at Home)

Gilberte, having become Marquise de Saint-Loup, fails to preserve the luster of her lofty title and her high social status: "She decided that the name Saint-Loup was now embodied in herself like a glowing enamel and that, whoever her associates might be, from now onwards she would remain for all the world Marquise de Saint-Loup, wherein she was mistaken, for the value of a title of nobility, like that of shares in a company, rises with the demand and falls when it is offered in the market. Everything that seems to us imperishable tends to destruction; a position in society, like anything else, is not created once and for all time, but, just as much as the power of an Empire, reconstructs itself at every moment by a sort of perpetual process of creation....The creation of the world did not occur at the beginning of time, it occurs every day." (SCG, 4)

"The heart changes...but we learn of it only from reading or by imagination; for in reality its alteration, like that of certain natural phenomena, is so gradual that, even if we are able to distinguish, successively, each of its different states, we are still spared the actual sensation of change." (SW, Combray)

"Permanence and stability being assured to nothing in this world, not even to grief." (WBG, Madame Swann at Home)

"There is in this world in which everything wears out, everything perishes, one thing that crumbles into dust, that destroys itself still more completely, leaving behind still fewer traces of itself than Beauty: namely Grief." (SCG, 4)

"The opinions which we hold of one another, our relations with friends and kinsfolk are in no sense permanent, save in appearance, but are as eternally fluid as the sea itself." (GW, Part I)

Marcel's father finally accepts the fact that his son is suited to be a writer, not a diplomat. His father's remarks make Marcel uneasy: "In saying of me, 'He is no longer a child', 'His tastes will not change now', and so forth, my father had suddenly made me apparent to myself in my position in Time....I was not situated somewhere outside the realm of Time, but was subject to its laws." (WBG, Madame Swann at Home)

When the narrator encounters his old acquaintances at the reception, he finds them so changed that he compares the reception to a masquerade: "Every social gathering which one attends after a long absence from such affairs, provided there are present some, at least, of the persons one used to know, produces the effect of a masquerade fête of the most successful type of all, the one at which we are the most completely 'puzzled' by the other guests, but one at which the strange faces they have been unintentionally developing for a long time cannot be removed with a little soap and water after the affair is over. Puzzled by the other guests? Alas, we puzzle them quite as much, for the same difficulty I experienced in assigning the correct names to these faces seemed shared by all the people who looked at mine, paid no more attention to it than if they had never seen it, or tried to find in my present appearance some different recollection of the past." (PR, 3)

The realization that others have grown old forces the narrator to realize that he himself has grown old: "I, who from my early childhood had lived along from day to day with an unchanging conception of myself and others, for the first time, from the metamorphoses which had taken place in all these people, became conscious of the time that had gone by for them--which greatly perturbed me through its revelation that the same time had gone by for me." (PR, 3)

"In the same way as it is hard to imagine that a dead person was once alive or that one who was alive yesterday is dead today, it presents a difficulty almost as great and of much the same sort (for the dissolution of youthfulness, the destruction of an individual full of strength and agility is already a preliminary annihilation) to imagine that the woman who once was young is now old." (PR, 3)

Proust is reminded again of the passage of time when he sees Mlle. de Saint-Loup, the daughter of his old friend, Saint-Loup. "I saw Gilberte coming toward me. I, for whom Saint-Loup's marriage [was] as of yesterday, was astonished to see beside her a young girl about sixteen years old, whose tall figure was like a measure of the long lapse of years I had endeavoured to ignore....I thought her very beautiful, still full of promise. Laughing, fashioned of the very years I had lost, she seemed to me like my own youth." (PR, 3)

"A sense of familiarity so fills up our time that we have not, after a few months, a free moment in a town where on our first arrival the day offered us the absolute disposal of all its twelve hours." (CP, II, 3)

"[Remembrance of Things Past] begins with a prelude on the subject of sleeping and waking, because it is at such moments that the reversibility of Time, the dissociation of the self and its secret permanence can be seen most clearly." (Maurois, 6, 2)

"The time which we have at our disposal every day is elastic; the passions that we feel expand it, those that we inspire contract it; and habit fills up what remains." (WBG, Madame Swann at Home)s--"Since railways came into existence, the necessity of not missing the train has taught us to take account of minutes whereas among the ancient Romans, who not only had a more cursory science of astronomy but led less hurried lives, the notion not of minutes but even of fixed hours barely existed." (CP, I, 2)

In the following passage, Proust speaks of Bergotte's death, his resurrection as a posthumously famous writer, and the end of that resurrection: "[Bergotte] went on growing steadily colder, a tiny planet that offered a prophetic image of the greater, when gradually heat will withdraw from the earth, then life itself. Then the resurrection will have come to an end, for if, among future generations, the works of men are to shine, there must first of all be men." (TC, I, 1)

Unconscious Memory

"When from a long-distant past nothing subsists, after the people are dead, after the things are broken and scattered, still, alone, more fragile, but with more vitality...the smell and taste of things remain poised a long time like souls, ready to remind us, waiting and hoping for their moment, amid the ruins of all the rest; and bear unfaltering, in the tiny and almost impalpable drop of their essence, the vast structure of recollection." Proust said it was "a labor in vain" to try to recapture the past by means of the intellect; only sensation, only "the smell and taste of things", could recapture the past. (SW, Overture)

In his early novel Jean Santeuil, Proust described the experience of an unconscious memory of an earlier sensation thus: "'Jean felt a happiness so intense, that he seemed on the point of fainting'". Proust concluded from this experience that "'our true nature is outside time, born to feed on the eternal'". (Painter, vol. 1, 13)

"Days in the past cover up little by little those that preceded them and are themselves buried beneath those that follow them. But each past day has remained deposited in us, as, in a vast library in which there are older books, a volume which, doubtless, nobody will ever ask to see." (SCG, 1)

"The first theme [of Remembrance of Things Past], then, is Time the Destroyer; the second, Memory the Preserver. But not just any kind of memory....If, by chance, some day, we can give to our memories the support of a sensation in the present, it will come to life again....Other writers had had an inkling of it (Chateaubriand, Nerval, Musset), but no writer until Proust had thought of making the complex, sensation-memory into the essential material of his work." (Maurois, 6, 1)

"Those who have created for themselves an enveloping inner life, pay little heed to the importance of current events. What alters profoundly the course of their thinking is much more something which seems to be of no importance in itself and yet which reverses the order of time for them, making them live over again an earlier period of their life. The song of a bird in the park of Montboissier, a breeze laden with the scent of mignonette, are obviously incidents of less importance than the outstanding dates of the Revolution and the Empire. Yet they inspired Chateaubriand in his Mémoires d'Outre-tombe to write pages of an infinitely greater value." (PR, 2)

Referring to unconscious memory, the narrator says, "I felt that the pleasure it had bestowed on me at rare intervals in my life was the only one that was fecund and real. Is not the indication of the unreality of the others sufficiently evident either in their inability to satisfy us--as, for example, social pleasures, which at best produce the discomfort caused by partaking of wretched food; or friendship, which is a delusion, because, for whatever moral reasons he may do it, the artist who gives up an hour of work for an hour's conversation with a friend knows that he is sacrificing a reality for something which is non-existent." (PR, 3)

Photographic realism isn't an aid to memory, in Proust's opinion: "Photographs of a person...prevent one from recalling him as well as if one were satisfied merely to think about him." (PR, 3)

Proust has no use for Zola-esque realism: "That literature which is satisfied to 'describe objects', to give merely a miserable listing of lines and surfaces, is the very one which, while styling itself 'realist', is the farthest removed from reality, the one that impoverishes and saddens us the most, for it sharply cuts off all communication of our present self with the past." Proust is concerned with subjective impressions, not with "a miserable listing of lines and surfaces". (PR, 3)

Rejecting photographic realism, Proust emphasizes the importance of subjective impressions in the creative process: "The subjective impression is for the writer what experimentation is for the scientist, but with this difference, that with the scientist the work of the intelligence precedes, and with the writer it comes afterwards." (PR, 3)