Proust Quotes

Quotes tagged as "proust" (showing 1-30 of 70)
Marcel Proust
“Let us leave pretty women to men with no imagination.”
Marcel Proust, The Captive & The Fugitive

Marcel Proust
“I wished to see storms only on those coasts where they raged with most violence...”
Marcel Proust, Within a Budding Grove

Marcel Proust
“But genius, and even great talent, springs less from seeds of intellect and social refinement superior to those of other people than from the faculty of transforming and transposing them. To heat a liquid with an electric lamp requires not the strongest lamp possible, but one of which the current can cease to illuminate, can be diverted so as to give heat instead of light. 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, intersecting with a vertical line the horizontal line which it began by following, is capable of converting its speed into lifting power. Similarly, the men who produce works of genius are not those who live in the most delicate atmosphere, whose conversation is the most brilliant or their culture the most extensive, but those who have had the power, ceasing suddenly to live only for themselves, to transform their personality into a sort of mirror, in such a way that their life, however mediocre it may be socially and even, in a sense, intellectually, is reflected by it, genius consisting in reflecting power and not int he intrinsic quality of the scene reflected.”
Marcel Proust, Within a Budding Grove, Part 2

Marcel Proust
“I cannot express the uneasiness caused in me by this intrusion of mystery and beauty into a room I had at last filled with myself to the point of paying no more attention to the room than to that self. The anesthetizing influence of habit having ceased, I would begin to have thoughts, and feelings, and they are such sad things.”
Marcel Proust, Swann's Way

Marcel Proust
“I have friends wherever there are companies of trees, wounded but not vanquished, which huddle together with touching obstinancy to implore an inclement and pitiless sky.”
Marcel Proust, Swann's Way

Marcel Proust
“...the nose is generally the organ in which stupidity is most readily displayed.”
Marcel Proust, Sodom and Gomorrah

Lev Grossman
“The idea of some kind of objectively constant, universal literary value is seductive. It feels real. It feels like a stone cold fact that In Search of Lost Time, by Marcel Proust, is better than A Shore Thing, by Snooki. And it may be; Snooki definitely has more one-star reviews on Amazon. But if literary value is real, no one seems to be able to locate it or define it very well. We’re increasingly adrift in a grey void of aesthetic relativism.”
Lev Grossman

Christopher Hitchens
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? (Just to give you an idea, Proust's reply was 'To be separated from Mama.') I think that the lowest depth of misery ought to be distinguished from the highest pitch of anguish. In the lower depths come enforced idleness, sexual boredom, and/or impotence. At the highest pitch, the death of a friend or even the fear of the death of a child.”
Christopher Hitchens, Hitch 22: A Memoir

“Yet the Narrator’s quest is not only for his own identity and vocation. He seeks an understanding of art, sexuality and worldly and political affairs: he is a snoop and a voyeur; he comments and classifies; his taxonomic impulse makes the novel appear to be a vast compendium, replete with burrowing wasps and bedsteads, military strategies, stereoscopes, asparagus and aeroplanes.”
Adam A. Watt, The Cambridge Introduction to Marcel Proust

Samuel Beckett
“Habit is the ballast that chains the dog to his vomit.”
Samuel Beckett
tags: proust

Marcel Proust
“You're as strong as the Pont Neuf. You'll live to bury us all!”
Marcel Proust, The Guermantes Way

Marcel Proust
“Recalling, some time later, what I had felt at the time, I distinguished the impression of having been held for a moment in her mouth, myself, naked, without any of the social attributes which belonged equally to her other playmates and, when she used my surname, to my parents, accessories of which her lips - by the effort she made, a little after her father's manner, to articulate the words to which she wished to give a special emphasis - had the air of stripping, of divesting me, like the skin from a fruit of which one can swallow only the pulp, while her glance, adapting itself to the same new degree of intimacy as her speech, fell on me also more directly and testified to the consciousness, the pleasure, even the gratitude that it felt by accompanying itself with a smile.”
Marcel Proust

Marcel Proust
“The belief that a person has a share in an unknown life to which his or her love may win us admission is, of all the prerequisites of love, the one which it values most highly and which makes it set little store by all the rest.”
Marcel Proust

Marcel Proust
“...because he knew that for other people their own social obligations took precedence of the death of a
friend, and could put himself in her place by dint of his instinctive
politeness.”
Marcel Proust, The Guermantes Way

Marcel Proust
“The variations of the Duchess's judgment spared no one, except her
husband. He alone had never been in love with her, in him she had
always felt an iron character, indifferent to the caprices that she
displayed, contemptuous of her beauty, violent, of a will that would
never bend, the sort under which alone nervous people can find
tranquillity.”
Marcel Proust, The Guermantes Way

Marcel Proust
“This compulsion to an activity without respite, without variety, without result was so cruel that one day, noticing a swelling over his stomach, he felt an actual joy in the idea that he had, perhaps, a tumor that would prove fatal, that he need not concern himself with anything further, since it was this malady that was going to govern his life, to make a plaything of him, until the not-distant end. If indeed, at his period, it often happened that, though without admitting it even to himself, he longed for death, it was in order to escape not so much from the keenness of his sufferings as from the monotony of his struggle.”
Marcel Proust, Swann's Way

Marcel Proust
“He had so long since ceased to direct his life toward any ideal goal, and had confined himself to the pursuit of quotidian satisfactions, that he had come to believe, though without ever formally stating his belief even to himself that he would remain all his life in that condition, which only death could alter.”
Marcel Proust, Swanns Way

Marcel Proust
“All these things and, still more than these, the treasures which had come to the church from personages who to me were almost legendary figures (such as the golden cross wrought, it was said, by Saint Eloi and presented by Dagobert, and the tomb of the sons of Louis the Germanic in porphyry and enamelled copper), because of which I used to go forward into the church when we were making our way to our chairs as into a fairy-haunted valley, where the rustic sees with amazement on a rock, a tree, a marsh, the tangible proofs of the little people’s supernatural passage — all these things made of the church for me something entirely different from the rest of the town; a building which occupied, so to speak, four dimensions of space — the name of the fourth being Time — which had sailed the centuries with that old nave, where bay after bay, chapel after chapel, seemed to stretch across and hold down and conquer not merely a few yards of soil, but each successive epoch from which the whole building had emerged triumphant, hiding the rugged barbarities of the eleventh century in the thickness of its walls, through which nothing could be seen of the heavy arches, long stopped and blinded with coarse blocks of ashlar, except where, near the porch, a deep groove was furrowed into one wall by the tower-stair; and even there the barbarity was veiled by the graceful gothic arcade which pressed coquettishly upon it, like a row of grown-up sisters who, to hide him from the eyes of strangers, arrange themselves smilingly in front of a countrified, unmannerly and ill-dressed younger brother; rearing into the sky above the Square a tower which had looked down upon Saint Louis, and seemed to behold him still; and thrusting down with its crypt into the blackness of a Merovingian night, through which, guiding us with groping finger-tips beneath the shadowy vault, ribbed strongly as an immense bat’s wing of stone, Théodore or his sister would light up for us with a candle the tomb of Sigebert’s little daughter, in which a deep hole, like the bed of a fossil, had been bored, or so it was said, “by a crystal lamp which, on the night when the Frankish princess was murdered, had left, of its own accord, the golden chains by which it was suspended where the apse is to-day and with neither the crystal broken nor the light extinguished had buried itself in the stone, through which it had gently forced its way.”
Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time

Marcel Proust
“I loved her; I was sorry not to have had the time and the inspiration to insult her, to do her some injury, to force her to keep some memory of me.”
Marcel Proust

Marcel Proust
“Anzi, da un punto di vista puramente realistico, i paesi che noi desideriamo tengono in ogni istante assai più posto nella nostra esistenza vera, dei paesi dove abitiamo in realtà.”
Marcel Proust

Marcel Proust
“There was a mild, damp wind blowing. It was weather I was quite familiar with; and a sudden feeling and presentiment ran through me: that New Year’s Day was not a day that differed from any other, not the first day of a new life when I could remake the acquaintance of Gilberte with the die still uncast, as though on the very first day of Creation when no past yet existed, as though the sorrows she had sometimes caused me had been wiped out, and with them all the future ones they might portend, as though I lived in a new world in which nothing remained of the old except one thing: my wish that Gilberte would love me. I realized that, since my heart yearned in this way for the redesign of a universe which had not satisfied it, this meant that my heart had not changed; and I could see there was no reason why Gilberte’s should have changed either. I sensed that, though it was a new friendship for me, it would not be a new friendship for her, just as no years are ever separated from each other by a frontier, and that though[…]“it was a new friendship for me, it would not be a new friendship for her, just as no years are ever separated from each other by a frontier, and that though we may put different names to them, they remain beyond the reach of our yearnings, unaware of these and unaffected by them. Though I might dedicate this year to Gilberte, though I might try to imprint upon New Year’s Day the special notion I had made up for it, as a religion is superimposed on the blind workings of nature, it was in vain: I was aware that this day did not know it was called New Year’s Day, and that it was coming to an end in the twilight in a way that was not unknown to me. What I recognized, what I sensed “in that mild wind blowing about the Morris column with its posters, was the reappearance of former times, with the never-ending unchangingness of their substance, their familiar dampness, their ignorant fluidity.”
Marcel Proust

Marcel Proust
“The impression given us by a person or a work (or an interpretation of a work) of marked individuality is peculiar to that person or work. We have brought with us the ideas of “beauty,” “breadth of style,” “pathos” and so forth which we might at a pinch have the illusion of recognising in the banality of a conventional face or talent, but our critical spirit has before it the insistent challenge of a form of which it possesses no intellectual equivalent, in which it must disengage the unknown element. It hears a sharp sound, an oddly interrogative inflexion. It asks itself: “Is that good? Is what I am feeling now admiration? Is that what is meant by richness of colouring, nobility, strength?” And what answers it again is a sharp voice, a curiously questioning tone, the despotic impression, wholly material, caused by a person whom one does not know, in which no scope is left for “breadth of interpretation.” And for this reason it is the really beautiful works that, if we listen to them with sincerity, must disappoint us most keenly, because in the storehouse of our ideas there is none that responds to an individual impression.”
Marcel Proust, The Guermantes Way

Marcel Proust
“Poets claim that we recapture for a moment the self that we were long ago when we enter some house or garden in which we used to live in our youth. But these are most hazardous pilgrimages, which end as often in disappointment as in success. It is in ourselves that we should rather seek to find those fixed places, contemporaneous with different years. And great fatigue followed by a good night's rest can to a certain extent help us to do so. For in order to make us descend into the most subterranean galleries of sleep, where no reflexion from overnight, no gleam of memory comes to light up the interior monologue—if the latter does not itself cease—fatigue followed by rest will so thoroughly turn over the soil and penetrate the bedrock of our bodies that we discover down there, where our muscles plunge and twist in their ramifications and breathe in new life, the garden where we played in our childhood. There is no need to travel in order to see it again; we must dig down inwardly to discover it. What once covered the earth is no longer above but beneath it; a mere excursion does not suffice for a visit to the dead city: excavation is necessary also. But we shall see how certain fugitive and fortuitous impressions carry us back even more effectively to the past, with a more delicate precision, with a more light-winged, more immaterial, more headlong, more unerring, more immortal flight, than these organic dislocations.”
Marcel Proust, The Guermantes Way

Marcel Proust
“These new words were heard by my love; they persuaded it that the next day would not be different from what all the other days had been; that Gilberte’s feeling for me, already too old to be able to change, was indifference; that in my friendship with Gilberte, I was the only one who loved. “It’s true,” my love answered, “there’s nothing more to be done with this friendship, it won’t change.” And so, the very next day (or waiting for a public holiday if there was one coming up soon, or an anniversary, or the New Year perhaps, one of those days which are not like the others, when time makes a fresh start by rejecting the heritage of the past, by not accepting the legacy of its sorrows) I would ask Gilberte to give up our old friendship and lay the foundations of a new one.”
Marcel Proust

Alain de Botton
“We would like to go and see the field that Millet…shows us in his Springtime, we would like Claude Monet to take us to Giverny, on the banks of the Seine, to that bend of the river which he hardly lets us distinguish through the morning mist. Yet in actual fact, it was the mere chance of a connection or family relation that give…Millet or Monet occasion to pass or to stay nearby, and to choose to paint that road, that garden, that field, that bend in the river, rather than some other. What makes them appear other and more beautiful than the rest of the world is that they carry on them, like some elusive reflection, the impression they afforded to a genius, and which we might see wandering just as singularly and despotically across the submissive, indifferent face of all the landscapes he may have painted.’

It should not be Illiers-Combray that we visit: a genuine homage to Proust would be to look at our world through his eyes, not look at his world through our eyes.

To forget this may sadden us unduly. When we feel interest to be so dependent on the exact locations where certain great artists found it, a thousand landscapes and areas of experience will be deprived of possible interest, for Monet only looked at a few stretches of the earth, and Proust’s novel, though long, could not comprise more than a fraction of human experience. Rather than learn the general lesson of art’s attentiveness, we might seek instead the mere objects of its gaze, and would then be unable to do justice to parts of the world which artists had not considered. As a Proustian idolater, we would have little time for desserts which Proust never tasted, for dresses he never described, nuances of love he didn’t cover and cities he didn’t visit, suffering instead from an awareness of a gap between our existence and the realm of artistic truth and interest.

The moral? There is no great homage we could pay Proust than to end up passing the same verdict on him as he passed on Ruskin, namely, that for all its qualities, his work must eventually also prove silly, maniacal, constraining, false and ridiculous to those who spend too long on it.

‘To make [reading] into a discipline is to give too large a role to what is only an incitement. Reading is on the threshold of the spiritual life; it can introduce us to it: it does not constitute it.”
Alain de Botton, How Proust Can Change Your Life

Céleste Albaret
“You will close your eyes. And listen carefully . . . . You must learn to listen carefully when people talk to you about their death. We each carry our own death within us, and we feel when it is there.”
Céleste Albaret, Monsieur Proust

Marcel Proust
“He suffered greatly from being shut up among all these people whose stupidity and absurdities wounded him all the more cruelly since, being ignorant of his love, incapable, had they known of it, of taking any interest, or of doing more than smile at it as at some childish joke, or deplore it as an act of insanity, they made it appear to him in the aspect of a subjective state which existed for himself alone, whose reality there was nothing external to confirm; he suffered overwhelmingly, to the point at which even the sound of the instruments made him want to cry, from having to prolong his exile in this place to which Odette would never come, in which no one, nothing was aware of her existence, from which she was entirely absent.”
Marcel Proust, Swann's Way

Marcel Proust
“We enjoy lovely music, beautiful paintings, a thousand intellectual delicacies, but we have no idea of their cost, to those who invented them, in sleepless nights, tears, spasmodic laughter, rashes, asthmas, epilepsies, and the fear of death, which is worse than all the rest.”
Marcel Proust

Alexander McCall Smith
“... 'You can't read everything. I've never got beyond the beginning of Proust. I love him, but I can't seem to get beyond about page three.'

They were comfortable in each other's company, and this confession seemed to accentuate the ease of their relationship. The confession itself was not entirely true; Isabel had read more Proust than that, but other people undoubtedly found it reassuring to think that one had only read a few pages. Certainly those who claimed to have read Proust in his entirety got scant sympathy from others. And yet, she suddenly wondered, should you actually lie about how much Proust you've read? Some politicians, she reminded herself, did that--or the equivalent--when they claimed to be down-to-earth, no-nonsense types, just like the voters, when all the time they were secretly delighting in Proust . . .”
Alexander McCall Smith, The Uncommon Appeal of Clouds

Céleste Albaret
“He wanted to know all about me and my family and especially my childhood.

That's where everything starts, he'd say. Both heaven and hell.”
Céleste Albaret, Monsieur Proust

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