Whose inferiority proclaimed her own supremacy so loud.
When nothing else subsists from the past, after the people are dead, after the things are broken and scattered...the smell and taste of things remain poised a long time, like souls...bearing resiliently, on tiny and almost impalpable drops of their essence, the immense edifice of memory.
It is up to my spirit to find the truth. But how? Grave uncertainty, each time the spirit feels beyond its own comprehension; whenit, the explorer, is altogether to obscure land that it must search and where all its baggage is of no use. To search? That is not all: to create.
Conversation, which is friendship's mode of expression, is a superficial digression which gives us nothing worth acquiring. We may talk for a lifetime without doing more than indefinitely repeat the vacuity of a minute.
The soldier is convinced that a certain indefinitely extendable time period is accorded him before he is killed, the burglar before he is caught, men in general, before they must die. That is the amulet which preserves individuals -- and sometimes populations -- not from danger, but from the fear of danger, in reality from the belief in danger, which in some cases allows them to brave it without being brave. Such a confidence, just as unfounded, supports the lover who counts on a reconciliation, a letter.
One becomes moral as soon as one is unhappy.
All the mind's activity is easy if it is not subjected to reality.
With women who do not love us, as with the "dear departed," the knowledge that there is no hope left does not prevent us from continuing to wait.
Medicine being a compendium of the successive and contradictory mistakes of medical practitioners, when we summon the wisest of them to our aid, the chances are that we may be relying on a scientific truth the error of which will be recognized in a few years time.
The sight of the little madeleine had recalled nothing to my mind before I tasted it.
This love of ours, in so far as it is a love for one particular creature, is not perhaps a very real thing, since, though associations of pleasant or painful musings can attach it for a time to a woman to the extent of making us believe that it has been inspired by her in a logically necessary way, if on the other hand we detach ourselves deliberately or unconsciously from those associations, this love, as though it were in fact spontaneous and sprang from ourselves alone, will revive in order to bestow itself on another woman.
There is an inanimate object which has a capacity to exasperate which no human being will ever attain: a piano.
Because happiness alone is good for the body; whereas sorrow develops the strength of the mind.
She was not yet dead. But I was already alone.
The things about which we most often jest are generally, on the contrary, the things that worry us but that we do not wish to appear to be worried by, with perhaps a secret hope of the further advantage that the person to whom we are talking, hearing us treat the matter as a joke, will conclude that it is not true.
We ought at least, from prudence, never to speak of ourselves, because that is a subject on which we may be sure that other people's views are never in accordance with our own.
The places we have known do not belong solely to the world of space in which we situate them for our greater convenience. They were only a thin slice among contiguous impressions which formed our life at that time; the memory of a certain image is but regret for a certain moment; and houses, roads, avenues are as fleeting, alas, as the years.
There was no need for him to hasten towards the attainment of a happiness already captured and held in a safe place, which would not escape his grasp again.
Illness is the most heeded of doctors: to goodness and wisdom we only make promises; pain we obey.
When one feels oneself smitten by love for a woman, one ought to say to oneself, 'What are her surroundings? What has been her life? All one's future happiness lies in the answer.
He imagined himself lying there, unable to sleep, thinking of his mother, separated from her by the unresponsive blankets tucked too tightly round him, feeling the ceaseless thumping of his heart in the silence of the night, the irrevocability of absence, the rigid stillness of repose, the agony of solitude and sleeplessness. If the room was a prison, the bed was a tomb.
Reality is never more than a first step towards an unknown on the road to which one can never progress very far.
We become moral when we are unhappy.
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.
In short, my aunt demanded that whoever came to see her must at one and the same time approve of her way of life, commiserate with her in her sufferings, and assure her of ultimate recovery.
The whole art of living is to use the people who make us suffer simply as steps enabling us to obtain access to their divine form and thus joyfully to people our lives with divinities.
No exile at the South Pole or on the summit of Mont Blanc separates us more effectively from others than the practice of a hidden vice.
A sort of egotistical self-evaluation is unavoidable in those joys in which erudition and art mingle and in which aesthetic pleasure may become more acute, but not remain as pure.
Nobility is often no more than the inner aspect which our egotistical feelings assume when we have not yet named and classified them.
For theories and schools, like microbes and corpuscles, devour one another and by their strife ensure the continuity of life.
No doubt very few people understand the purely subjective nature of the phenomenon that we call love, or how it creates, so to speak, 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 ourselves.
Let an illness, a duel, a runaway horse make us see death face to face, and how richly we should have enjoyed the life of pleasure, the travels in unknown lands, which are about to be snatched from us! And no sooner is the danger past than we resume once more the same dull life in which none of those delights existed for us.
At the heart of our friendly or purely social relations, there lurks a hostility momentarily cured but recurring by fits and starts.
I have a horror of sunsets; they're so romantic, so operatic.
We do not receive wisdom, we must discover it for ourselves, after a journey through the wilderness which no one else can make for us, which no one can spare us, for our wisdom is the point of view from which we come at last to regard the world. The lives that you admire, the attitudes that seem noble to you, have not been shaped by a paterfamilias or a schoolmaster, they have sprung from very different beginnings, having been influenced by evil or commonplace that prevailed round them. They represent a struggle and a victory.
A powerful idea communicates some of its power to the man who contradicts it. Partaking of the universal community of minds, it infiltrates, grafts itself on to, the mind of him who it refutes, among other contiguous ideas, with the aid of which, counter-attacking, he complements and corrects it; so that the final verdict is always to some extent the work of both parties to a discussion.
After a certain age, the more one becomes oneself, the more obvious one's family traits become.
When I was small child, all that belonged to conservative society was fashionable, and no republicans were welcome in the smartersalons. People living in such a milieu could imagine that the impossibility of ever inviting an "opportunist," much less a "radical," was a thing that would last forever, like gas lamps and horse-drawn omnibuses. But similar to kaleidoscopes turning from time to time, society successively places in various ways elements which were thought to be immutable and creates a new composition.
Words do not change their meanings so drastically in the course of centuries as, in our minds, names do in the course of a year or two.
Presently, one after another, like shyly hopping sparrows, her friends arrived, black against the snow.
One must never miss an opportunity of quoting things by others which are always more interesting than those one thinks up oneself.
We don't receive wisdom we must discover it for ourselves.
There's nothing like desire to prevent the things one says from having any resemblance to the things in one's mind.
A sleeping man holds in a circle around him the thread of the hours, the order of years and of worlds. He consults them instinctively upon awaking and in one second reads in them the point of the earth that he occupies, the time past until his arousal; but their ranks can be mingled or broken.
A man who is in the habit of smiling in the glass at his handsome face and stalwart figure, if you shew him their radiograph, will have, face to face with that rosary of bones, labelled as being the image of himself, the same suspicion of error as the visitor to an art gallery who, on coming to the portrait of a girl, reads in his catalogue: "Dromedary resting.
We have such numerous interests in our lives that it is not uncommon, on a single occasion, for the foundations of a happiness that does not yet exist to be laid down alongside the intensification of a grief from which we are still suffering.
The great renunciation of old age as it prepared for death, wraps itself up in its chrysalis, which may be observed at the end of lives that are at all prolonged, even in old lovers who have lived for one another, in old friends bound by the closest ties of mutual sympathy, who, after a certain year, cease to make the necessary journey or even to cross the street to see one another, cease to correspond, and know that they will communicate no more in this world.
At a certain age, we have already been struck by love; it no longer develops alone, according to its own mysteries and fateful laws while our hearts stand by startled and passive. We come to its assistanceRecognizing one of its symptoms, we recall, we bring back to life the others. Since we possess its song engraved in its totality within us, we do not need for a woman to tell us the beginning -- filled with admiration inspired by beauty -- to find the continuation.
The fact of the matter is that, since we are determined always to keep our feelings to ourselves, we have never given any thought to the manner in which we should express them. And suddenly there is within us a strange and obscene animal making itself heard, whose tones may inspire as much alarm in the person who receives the involuntary, elliptical and almost irresistible communication of one's defect or vice as would the sudden avowal indirectly and outlandishly proffered by a criminal who can no longer refrain from confessing to a murder of which one had never imagined him to be guilty.
Then came the deglutition of saliva, and the old lady instinctively wiped the stubble of her toothbrush moustache with her handkerchief.
Beautiful books are always written in a sort of foreign language.
We do not succeed in changing things according to our desire, but gradually our desire changes.
We do not succeed in changing things according to our desire, but gradually our desire changes. The situation that we hoped to change because it was intolerable becomes unimportant. We have not managed to surmount the obstacle, as we were absolutely determined to do, but life has taken us round it, led us past it, and then if we turn round to gaze at the remote past, we can barely catch sight of it, so imperceptible has it become.
To write that essential book, a great writer does not need to invent it but merely to translate it, since it already exists in each one of us. The duty and task of a writer are those of translator.
Monsieur Beulier never engaged in thought except to speak the truth, and never spoke except to express his thought.
A fashionable milieu is one in which everybody's opinion is made up of the opinion of all the others. Has everybody a different opinion? Then it is a literary milieu.
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.
The artist who gives up an hour of work for an hour of conversation with a friend knows that he is sacrificing a reality for something that does not exist.
The artist who gives up an hour of work for an hour of conversation with a friend knows that he is sacrificing a reality for something that does not exist (our friends being friends only in the light of an agreeable folly which travels with us through life and to which we readily accommodate ourselves, but which at the bottom of our hearts we know to be no more reasonable than the delusion of the man who talks to the furniture because he believes that it is alive.).
Three-quarters of the sicknesses of intelligent people come from their intelligence. They need at least a doctor who can understand this sickness.
Even when she had to make some one a present of the kind called 'useful,' when she had to give an armchair or some table-silver or a walking-stick, she would choose 'antiques,' as though their long desuetude had effaced from them any semblance of utility and fitted them rather to instruct us in the lives of the men of other days than to serve the common requirements of our own.
The bonds that unite another person to our self exist only in our mind.
I was left alone there in the company of the orchids, roses and violets, which, like people waiting beside you who do not know you, preserved a silence which their individuality as living things made all the more striking, and warmed themselves in the heat of a glowing coal fire.
I would feel the satisfaction of being shut in from the outer world.
That form of the instinct of self-preservation with which we guard everything that is best in ourselves.
I would fall asleep, and often I would be awake again for short snatches only, just long enough to hear the regular creaking of the wainscot, or to open my eyes to settle the shifting kaleidoscope of the darkness, to savour, in an instantaneous flash of perception, the sleep which lay heavy upon the furniture, the room, the whole surroundings of which I formed but an insignificant part and whose unconsciousness I should very soon return to share.
It is in moments of illness that we are compelled to recognize that we live not alone but chained to a creature of a different kingdom, whole worlds apart, who has no knowledge of us and by whom it is impossible to make ourselves understood: our body.
Love is space and time measured by the heart.
After luncheon the sun, conscious that it was Saturday, would blaze an hour longer in the zenith.
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.
When you come to live with a woman, you will soon cease to see anything of what made you love her; though it is true that the two sundered elements can be reunited by jealousy.
As soon as he ceased to be mad he became merely stupid. There are maladies we must not seek to cure because they alone protect us from others that are more serious.
Knowing does not always allow us to prevent, but at least the things that we know, we hold them, if not in our hands, but at leastin our thoughts where we may dispose of them at our whim, which gives us the illusion of power over them.
Let but a single flash of reality -- the glimpse of a woman from afar or from behind -- enable us to project the image of Beauty before our eyes, and we imagine that we have recognised it, our hearts beat, and we will always remain half-persuaded that it was She, provided that the woman has vanished: it is only if we manage to overtake her that we realise our mistake.
People wish to learn to swim and at the same time to keep one foot on the ground.
One says the things which one feels the need to say, and which the other will not understand: one speaks for oneself alone.
What a profound significance small things assume when the woman we love conceals them from us.
But all the feelings that evoke in us the joy or the misfortune of a real person are only produced in us through the intermediary of an image of that joy or that misfortune; the ingeniousness of the first novelist was in understanding that, in the apparatus of our emotions, since the image is the only essential element, the simplification which consists of purely and simply suppressing the factual characters is a definitive improvement.
Love...., ever unsatisfied, lives always in the moment that is about to come.
For everyone who, having no artistic sense-that is to say, no submission to subjective reality-may have the knack of reasoning about art till doomsday, especially if he be, in addition, a diplomat or financier in contact with the 'realities' of the present day, is only too ready to believe literature is an intellectual game which is destined to gradually be abandoned as time goes on.
None of us constitutes a material whole, identical for everyone, which a person has only to go look up as though we were a book of specifications or a last testament; our social personality is a creation of the minds of others. Even the very simple act that we call "seeing a person we know" is in part an intellectual one. We fill the physical appearance of the individual we see with all the notions we have about him, and of the total picture that we form for ourselves, these notions certainly occupy the greater part.
The real stars of society are tired of appearing there. He who is curious to gaze at them must often migrate to another hemisphere, where they are more or less alone.
There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we believe we left without having lived them, those we spent with a favorite book.
The moments of the past do not remain still; they retain in our memory the motion which drew them towards the future, towards a future which has itself become the past, and draw us on in their train.
Are not the thoughts of the dying often turned towards the practical, painful, obscure, visceral aspect, towards the "seamy side" of death which is, as it happens, the side that death actually presents to them and forces them to feel, and which far more closely resembles a crushing burden, a difficulty in breathing, a destroying thirst, than the abstract idea to which we are accustomed to give the name of Death?
We exist only by virtue of what we possess, we possess only what is really present to us, and many of our memories, our moods, our ideas sail away on a voyage of their own until they are lost to sight! Then we can no longer take them into account in the total which is our personality. But they know of secret paths by which to return to us.
I never allow myself to be influenced in the smallest degree either by atmospheric disturbances or by the arbitrary divisions of what is known as Time. I would willingly reintroduce to society the opium pipe of China or the Malayan kriss, but I am wholly and entirely without instruction in those infinitely more per-nicious (besides being quite bleakly bourgeois) implements, the umbrella and the watch.
As long as reading is for us the instigator whose magic keys have opened the door to those dwelling-places deep within us that we would not have known how to enter, its role in our lives is salutary. It becomes dangerous, on the other hand, when, instead of awakening us to the personal life of the mind, reading tends to take its place, when the truth no longer appears to us as an ideal which we can realize only by the intimate progress of our own thought and the efforts of our heart, but as something material, deposited between the leaves of books like a honey fully prepared by others and which we need only take the trouble to reach down from the shelves of libraries and then sample passively in a perfect repose of mind and body.
I had long since given up trying to extract from a woman as it were the square root of her unknown quantity, the mystery of which a mere introduction was generally enough to dispel.
What we have not had to decipher, to elucidate by our own efforts, what was clear before we looked at it, is not ours. From ourselves comes only that which we drag forth from the obscurity which lies within us, that which to others is unknown.
For neither our greatest fears nor our greatest hopes are beyond the limits of our strength -- we are able in the end both to dominate the first and to achieve the second.
So long as I know what's boiling in my pot I don't bother my head about what's in other people's.
There comes in all our lives a time ... when the ears can listen to no music save what the moonlight breathes through the flute of silence.
I understood that all the material of a literary work was in my past life, I understood that I had acquired it in the midst of frivolous amusements, in idleness, in tenderness and in pain, stored up by me without my divining its destination or even its survival, as the seed has in reserve all the ingredients which will nourish the plant.
A language which we do not know is a fortress sealed.
I did not wait to hear the end of my father's story, for I had been with him myself after mass when we had met M. Legrandin; instead, I went downstairs to the kitchen to ask about the menu for our dinner, which was of fresh interest to me daily, like the news in a paper, and excited me as might the programme of a coming festivity.
Not caring for their lives' is it? Why, what in the world is there that we should care for if it's not our lives, the only gift the Lord never offers us a second time.
Like a kaleidoscope which is every now and then given a turn, society arranges successively in different orders elements which one would have supposed immutable, and composes a new pattern.
I was not one man only but the steady advance hour after hour of an army in close formation, in which there appeared, according to the moment, impassioned men, indifferent men, jealous men.
Our vanity, our passions, our spirit of imitation, our abstract intelligence, our habits have long been at work, and it is the task of art to undo this work of theirs, making us travel back in the direction from which we have come to the depths where what has really existed lies unknown within us.
As to the pretty girls who went past, from the day on which I had first known that their cheeks could be kissed, I had become curious about their souls. And the Universe had appeared to me more interesting.
No doubt, few people understand either the purely subjective nature of the phenomenon of love, or how it creates a supplementary person who is quite different from the one who bears our beloved's name in the outside world, and is mostly formed from elements within ourselves. So there are few who see anything natural in the disproportionate dimensions which we come to perceive in a person who is not the same as the one they see.
No days, perhaps, of all our childhood are ever so fully lived as those that we had regarded as not being lived at all: days spent wholly with a favourite book. Everything that seemed to fill them full for others we pushed aside, because it stood between us and the pleasures of the Gods.
And so her parents-in-law, whom she still regarded as the most eminent people in France, declared that she was an angel; all the more so because they preferred to appear, in marrying their son to her, to have yielded to the attraction rather of her natural charm than of her considerable fortune.
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.
We construct our lives for one person, and when at length it is ready to receive her that person does not come; presently she is dead to us, and we live on, prisoners within the walls which were intended only for her.
The highest praise of God consists in the denial of him by the atheist who finds creation so perfect that it can dispense with a creator.
When two people part it is the one who is not in love who makes the tender speeches.
We don't receive wisdom; we must discover it for ourselves after a journey that no one can take for us or spare us.
The only paradise is paradise lost.
Dear Friend: I have nearly died three times since morning.
But the loss of a memory, like the omission of a phrase during reading, rather than making for uncertainty, can lead to a premature certainty.
Unkind people imagine themselves to be inflicting pain on someone equally unkind.
We ought never to lose our tempers with people who, when we find them at fault, begin to snigger. They do so not because they are laughing at us, but because they are afraid of our displeasure.
My dear Madame, I just noticed that I forgot my cane at your house yesterday; please be good enough to give it to the bearer of this letter. P.S. Kindly pardon me for disturbing you; I just found my cane.
So few are the easy victories as the ultimate failures.
Unfortunately, in the social as in the political world, the victims are such cowards that one cannot for long remain indignant with their executioners.
Masterpieces are no more than the shipwrecked flotsam of great minds.
But for the invert vice begins, not when he establishes a relationship (for too many reasons may govern that), but when he takes his pleasure with women.
This rubicund youth, with his blunt features, appeared for all the world to have a tomato instead of a head.
Quartering the topmost branches of one of the tall trees, an invisible bird was striving to make the day seem shorter, exploring with a long-drawn note the solitude that pressed it on every side, but it received at once so unanimous an answer, so powerful a repercussion of silence and of immobility, that one felt it had arrested for all eternity the moment which it had been trying to make pass more quickly.
Do you suppose that it is within your power to insult me? You evidently are not aware to whom you are speaking? Do you imagine that the envenomed spittle of five hundred little gentlemen of your type, heaped one upon another, would succeed in slobbering so much as the tips of my august toes?
I was so much in the habit of having Albertine with me, and now I suddenly saw a new aspect of Habit. Hitherto I had regarded it chiefly as an annihilating force which suppresses the originality and even the awareness of one's perceptions; now I saw it as a dread deity, so riveted to one's being, its insignificant face so incrusted in one's heart, that if it detaches itself, if it turns away from one, this deity that one had barely distinguished inflicts on one sufferings more terrible than any other and is then as cruel as death itself.
We only really know what is new, what suddenly introduces to our sensibility a change of tone which strikes us, that for which habit has not yet substituted its pale fac-similes.
In a language known to us, we have substituted the opacity of the sounds with the transparence of the ideas. But a language we donot know is a closed place in which the one we love can deceive us, making us, locked outside and convulsed in our impotence, incapable of seeing or preventing anything.
Habit is a second nature which prevents us from knowing the first, of which it has neither the cruelties nor the enchantments.
Ah, in those earliest days of love how naturally the kisses spring into life! So closely, in their profusion, do they crowd together that lovers would find it as hard to count the kisses exchanged in an hour as to count the flowers in a meadow in May.
Hard people are weak people whom nobody wants, and the strong, caring little whether they are wanted or not, have alone that meekness which the common herd mistake for weakness.
Proust was the greatest novelist of the twentieth century, just as Tolstoy was in the nineteenth.
We may have revolved every possible idea in our minds, and yet the truth has never occurred to us, and it is from without, when we are least expecting it, that it gives us its cruel stab and wounds us forever.
Altogether, I had derived little benefit from being in Balbec, for which reason I was all the more determined to come back one day. I felt I had spent too short a time there.
Her Albertine's intense and velvety gaze fastened itself, glued itself to the passer-by, so adhesive, so corrosive, that you felt that, in withdrawing, it must tear away the skin.
When one becomes for an instant one's former self, that is to say different from what one has been for some time past, one's sensibility, being no longer dulled by habit, receives from the slightest stimulus vivid impressions which make everything that has preceded them fade into insignificance, impressions to which, because of their intensity, we attach ourselves with the momentary enthusiasm of a drunkard.
After a certain age, and even if we develop in quite different ways, the more we become ourselves, the more our family traits are accentuated.
There is no more ridiculous custom than the one that makes you express sympathy once and for all on a given day to a person whose sorrow will endure as long as his life. Such grief, felt in such a way is always present, it is never too late to talk about it, never repetitious to mention it again.
The tiny, initial clue ... by allowing us to imagine what we do not know, stimulates a desire for knowledge.
Photography is the product of complete alienation.
Theoretically, we know that the world turns, but in fact we do not notice it, the earth on which we walk does not seem to move andwe live on in peace. This is how it is concerning Time in our lives. And to render its passing perceptible, novelists must... have their readers cross ten, twenty, thirty years in two minutes.
As profession recognizes profession, so, too, does vice.
It is always thus, impelled by a state of mind which is destined not to last, we make our irrevocable decisions.
Lies are essential to humanity. They are perhaps as important as the pursuit of pleasure and moreover are dictated by that pursuit.
I felt that I was not penetrating to the full depth of my impression, that something more lay behind that mobility, that luminosity, something which they seemed at once to contain and to conceal.
Now are the woods all black, but still the sky is blue.
May you always see a blue sky overhead, my young friend; and then, even when the time comes, which is coming now for me, when the woods are all black, when night is fast falling, you will be able to console yourself, as I am doing, by looking up to the sky.
In a separation it's the one who is not really in love who says the more tender things.
We are healed of a suffering only by experiencing it to the full.
Every reader, as he reads, is actually the reader of himself. The writer's work is only a kind of optical instrument he provides the reader so he can discern what he might never have seen in himself without this book. The reader's recognition in himself of what the book says is the proof of the book's truth.
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.
Homosexuals would be the best husbands in the world if they did not put on an act of loving other women.
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.
Even from the simplest, the most realistic point of view, the countries which we long for occupy, at any given moment, a far larger place in our actual life than the country in which we happen to be.
In times like ours, where the growing complexity of life leaves us barely the time to read the newspapers, where the map of Europehas endured profound rearrangements and is perhaps on the brink of enduring yet others, where so many threatening and new problems appear everywhere, you will admit it may be demanded of a writer that he be more than a fine wit who makes us forget in idle and byzantine discussions on the merits of pure form.
Instead of seeking new landscapes, develop new eyes.
May you always see a blue sky overhead, my young friend; and then, even when the time comes, as it has come for me now, when the woods are black, when night is fast falling, you will be able to console yourself, as I do, by looking up at the sky.
What brings men together is not a community of views but a consanguinity of minds.
Remembrance of things past is not necessarily the remembrance of things as they were.
A cathedral, a wave of a storm, a dancer's leap, never turn out to be as high as we had hoped.
Love is an incurable malady like those pathetic states in which rheumatism affords the sufferer a brief respite only to be replaced by epileptiform headaches.
But old age, to begin with, has something in common with death. Some face it with indifference, not because they have more courage than others, but because they have less imagination.
The nose is generally the organ in which stupidity is most readily displayed.
The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes but in having new eyes.
Time, which changes people, does not alter the image we have retained of them.
The human plagiarism which is most difficult to avoid, for individuals... is the plagiarism of ourselves.
I had spent the New Year's Day of old men, who differ on that day from their juniors, not because people have ceased to give them presents but because they themselves have ceased to believe in the New Year.
Happiness serves hardly any other purpose than to make unhappiness possible.
But,instead of what our imagination makes us suppose and which we worthless try to discover,life gives us something that we could hardly imagine.
I would ask myself what o'clock it could be; I could hear the whistling of trains, which, now nearer and now farther off, punctuating the distance like the note of a bird in a forest, shewed me in perspective the deserted countryside through which a traveller would be hurrying towards the nearest station: the path that he followed being fixed for ever in his memory by the general excitement due to being in a strange place, to doing unusual things, to the last words of conversation, to farewells exchanged beneath an unfamiliar lamp which echoed still in his ears amid the silence of the night; and to the delightful prospect of being once again at home.
The loss of a sense adds as much beauty to the world as its acquisition.
A woman one loves rarely suffices for all our needs, so we deceive her with another whom we do not love.
Less disappointing than life, great works of art do not begin by giving us all their best.
Le veritable voyage de decouverte ne consiste pas a chercher de nouveaux paysages, mais a avoir de nouveaux yeux. (The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.).
The inertia of the mind urges it to slide down the easy slope of imagination, rather than to climb the steep slope of introspection.
Only imagination and belief can differentiate from the rest certain objects, certain people, and can create an atmosphere.
The satisfaction an imbecile derives from having right on his side and being certain of success is especially irritating.
These dreams reminded me that, since I wished some day to become a writer, it was high time to decide what sort of books I was going to write. But as soon as I asked myself the question, and tried to discover some subject to which I could impart a philosophical significance of infinite value, my mind would stop like a clock, my consciousness would be faced with a blank, I would feel either that I was wholly devoid of talent or perhaps that some malady of the brain was hindering its development.
Our virtues themselves are not free and floating qualities over which we retain a permanent control and power of disposal; they come to be so closely linked in our minds with the actions in conjunction with which we have made it our duty to exercise them that if we come to engage in an activity of a different kind, it catches us off guard and without the slightest awareness that it might involve the application of those same virtues.
We can sometimes find a person again, but we cannot abolish time. And so on until the unforeseen day, gloomy as a winter night, when one no longer seeks that girl, or any other, when to find her would actually scare one. For one no longer feels that one has attractions enough to please, or strength enough to love. Not, of course, that one is in the strict sense of the word impotent. And as for loving, one would love more than ever. But one feels that it is too big an undertaking for the little strength one has left.
Although it is rightly said that there can be no progress, no discovery in art, but only in the sciences, and that each artist starting afresh on an individual effort cannot be either helped or hindered therein by the efforts of any other, it must none the less be acknowledged that, in so far as art brings to light certain laws, once an industry has popularized them, the art that was first in the field loses retrospectively a little of its originality.
I felt that these celestial hues indicated the presence of exquisite creatures who had been pleased to assume vegetable form, who, through the disguise which covered their firm and edible flesh, allowed me to discern in this radiance of earliest dawn, these hinted rainbows, these blue evening shades, that precious quality which I should recognise again when, all night long after a dinner at which I had partaken of them, they played (lyrical and coarse in their jesting as the fairies in Shakespeare's 'Dream') at transforming my humble chamber into a bower of aromatic perfume.
A constant repetition and a boundless incongruity of useless but indestructible objects.
Perfume is that last and best reserve of the past, the one which when all out tears have run dry, can make us cry again!
Our passions shape our books, repose writes them in the intervals.
Even if we take into account only atavism, family likenesses, it is inevitable that the uncle who delivers the lecture should have more or less the same faults as the nephew whom he has been deputed to scold. Nor is the uncle in the least hypocritical in so doing, taken in as he is by the faculty that people have of believing, in every fresh experience, that ‘this is quite different,' a faculty which allows them to adopt artistic, political and other errors without perceiving that they are the same errors which they exposed, ten years ago, in another school of painters, whom they condemned, another political affair which, they considered, merited a loathing that they no longer feel, and espouse those errors without recognising them in a fresh disguise.
But, when nothing subsists of an old past, after the death of people, after the destruction of things, alone, frailer but more enduring, more immaterial, more persistent, more faithful, smell and taste still remain for a long time, like souls, remembering, waiting, hoping, on the ruin of all the rest, bearing without giving way, on their almost impalpable droplet, the immense edifice of memory.
As long as men are free to ask what they must, free to say what they think, free to think what they will, freedom can never be lost and science can never regress.
Physical love, so unjustly decried, forces everyone to manifest even the smallest bits of kindness he possesses, of selflessness,that they shine in the eyes of all who surround him.
We say that the hour of death cannot be forecast, but when we say this we imagine that hour as placed in an obscure and distant future. It never occurs to us that it has any connection with the day already begun or that death could arrive this same afternoon, this afternoon which is so certain and which has every hour filled in advance.
How often is not the prospect of future happiness thus sacrificed to one's impatient insistence upon an immediate gratification.
How often is not the prospect of future happiness thus sacrificed to one's impatient insistence upon an immediate gratification, But his desire to know the truth was stronger, and seemed to him nobler than his desire for her.
An impression is for the writer what an experiment is for the scientist, except that for the scientist the work of the intelligence precedes it, and for the writer it comes afterwards.
The bonds between ourselves and another person exists only in our minds. Memory as it grows fainter loosens them, and notwithstanding the illusion by which we want to be duped and which, out of love, friendship, politeness, deference, duty, we dupe other people, we exist alone. Man is the creature who cannot escape from himself, who knows other people only in himself, and when he asserts the contrary, he is lying.
Her blue, almond-shaped eyes -- now even more elongated -- had altered in appearance; they were indeed of the same colour, but seemed to have passed into a liquid state. So much so that, when she closed them, it was as though a pair of curtains had been drawn to shut out a view of the sea.
The reigns of the kings and queens who are portrayed as kneeling with clasped hands in the windows of churches, were stained by oppression and bloodshed.
People are not always very tolerant of the tears which they themselves have provoked.
An excellent but an eccentric man in whom the least little thing would, it seemed, often check the flow of his spirits and divert the current of his thoughts.
For the possession of what we love is an even greater joy than love itself.
The Celtic belief that the souls of those whom we have lost are held captive in some inferior being, in an animal, in a plant, in some inanimate object and so effectively lost to us until the day (which to many never comes) when we happen to pass by the tree or to obtain possession of the object which forms their prison. Then they start and tremble, they call us by our name, and as soon as we have recognized their voices the spell is broken. We have delivered them: they have overcome death and return to share our life.
The horror that grand people have for the snobs who strive so hard to make their acquaintance is also felt by masculine men for inverts, and by women for every man who is too much in love with them.
The truth was that, with the Duchess de Luxembourg, with Mme de Morienval, Mme de Saint-Euverte and any number of others, the features that made their faces distinctive were a big red nose next to a hare-lip, or two wrinkled cheeks and a faint moustache. Such features cast their own spell well enough since, as a merely conventional form of handwriting, they enabled one to read a famous and impressive name; but ultimately they also gave rise to the notion that ugliness was somehow aristocratic, that it was a matter of indifference that the face of a grand lady should be beautiful, provided that it was distinguished.
I drank a second mouthful in which I find nothing more than in the first, then a third which gives me rather less than the second. It is time to stop; the potion is losing its magic.
And wasn't my mind also like another crib in the depths of which I felt I remained ensconced, even in order to watch what was happening outside? When I saw an external object, my awareness that I was seeing it would remain between me and it, lining it with a thin spiritual border that prevented me from ever directly touching its substance; it would volatize in some way before I could make contact with it, just as an incandescent body brought near a wet object never touches its moisture because it is always preceded by a zone of evaporation.
We pack the physical outline of the creature we see with all the ideas we have already formed about him, and in the complete picture of him we compose in our minds those ideas have certainly the principal place.
So beautiful that he could not refrain from moving his lips towards her.
I blame the newspapers because every day they call our attention to insignificant things, while three or four times in our lives,we read books that contain essential things. Once we feverishly tear the band of paper enclosing our newspapers, things should change and we should find -- I do not know -- the Pensées by Pascal!
To achieve accurate knowledge of others, if such a thing were possible, we could only ever arrive at it through the slow and unsure recognition of our own initial optical inaccuracies. However, such knowledge is not possible: for, while our vision of others is being adjusted, they, who are not made of mere brute matter, are also changing; we think we have managed to see them more clearly, but they shift; and when we believe we have them fully in focus, it is merely our older images of them that we have clarified, but which are themselves already out of date.
Even though our lives wander, our memories remain in one place.
The process which had begun in her -- and in he a little earlier only than it must come to all of us -- was the great renunciation of old age as it prepared for death, wraps itself up in its chrysalis, which may be observed at the end of lives that are at all prolonged, even in old lovers who have lived for one another, in old friends bound by the closest ties of mutual sympathy, who, after a certain year, cease to make the necessary journey or even to cross the street to see one another, cease to correspond, and know that they will communicate no more in this world.
A well-read man will yawn with boredom when one speaks to him of a new "good book," as he imagines a sort of composite of all the good books he has read, whereas a good book is something special, unforeseeable, made up not of the sum of all previous masterpieces but of something which the most thorough assimilation of every one of them would not enable him to discover, since it exists not in their sum but beyond it.
Dinner-parties bore us because our imagination is absent, and reading interests us because it is keeping us company.
But he did not tell her, for he realised how petty it would appear to her, and how different from what she had expected, less sensational and less touching; he was afraid, too, lest, disillusioned in the matter of art, she might at the same time be disillusioned in the greater matter of love.
Even from the point of view of coquetry, pure and simple," he had told her, "can't you see how much of your attraction you throw away when you stoop to lying?
Every kiss provokes another. Oh, in those earliest days of love how naturally the kisses spring to life! So closely, in their profusion, do they crowd together that lovers would find it as hard to count the kisses exchanged in an hour as to count the flowers in a meadow in May.
Hoeveel bedroevender nog dan vroeger vond ik het sedert die dag ... dat ik geen aanleg voor schrijven had en ervan moest afzien ooit een beroemde schrijver te worden.
M. de Charlus made no reply and looked as if he had not heard, which was one of his favourite forms of rudeness.
That distant look characteristic of people who do not wish to be agreeable.
Lying is essential to humanity. It plays as large a part perhaps as the quest for pleasure, and is moreover governed by that quest. One lies in order to protect one's pleasure, or one's honour if the disclosure of one's pleasure runs counter to one's honour. One lies all one's life long, even, especially, perhaps only, to those who love one. For they alone make us fear for our pleasure and desire their esteem.
Like everybody who is not in love, he thought one chose the person to be loved after endless deliberations and on the basis of particular qualities or advantages.
Human altruism which is not egoism, is sterile.
Everything great in the world comes from neurotics. They alone have founded our religions and composed our masterpieces.
The illusions of paternal love are perhaps no less poignant than those of the other kind; many daughters regard their fathers merely as the old men who leave their fortunes to them.
The true voyage of discovery is not a journey to a new place; it is learning to see with new eyes.
We love only what we do not wholly possess.
The creation of the world did not occur at the beginning of time, it occurs every day.
Time passes, and little by little everything that we have spoken in falsehood becomes true.
But the true nature which we repress continues nevertheless to abide within us. Thus it is that at times, if we read the latest masterpiece of a man of genius, we are delighted to find in it all those of our own reflexions which we have despised, joys and sorrows which we have repressed, a whole world of feelings we have scorned, and whose value the book in which we discover them afresh suddenly teaches us.
Desire makes everything blossom; possession makes everything wither and fade.
Let us leave pretty women to men devoid of imagination.
The images selected by memory are as arbitrary, as narrow, as elusive as those which the imagination had formed and reality has destroyed. There is no reason why, existing outside ourselves, a real place should conform to the pictures in our memory rather than those in our dreams.
Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.
We do not include the pleasures we enjoy in sleep in the inventory of the pleasures we have experienced in the course of our existence.
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.
He could see her, but dared not remain for fear of annoying her by seeming to be spying upon the pleasures which she tasted in other company, pleasures which -- while he drove home in utter loneliness, and went to bed, as anxiously as I myself was to go to bed, some years later, on the evenings when he came to dine with us at Combray -- seemed illimitable to him since he had not been able to see their end.
If a memory or a particular sadness we feel is capable of disappearing, to the point where we no longer notice it, it can also return and sometimes remain there for a long time. There were evenings when, as I crossed the town on my way to the restaurant, I felt so great a pang of longing for Mme de Guermantes that it took my breath away: it was as if part of my breast had been cut out by a skilled anatomist and replaced by an equal part of immaterial suffering, by an equivalent degree of nostalgia and love. And however neat the surgeon's stitches are, life is rather painful when longing for another person is substituted for the intestines; it seems to occupy more space than they do; it is a constantly felt presence; and then, how utterly unsettling it is to be obliged to think with part of the body! Yet it does somehow make us feel more authentic.
Memory nourishes the heart, and grief abates.
No sooner had the warm liquid mixed with the crumbs touched my palate than a shudder ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me.
The smell and taste of things remain poised a long time, like souls, ready to remind us.
If a little dreaming is dangerous, the cure for it is not to dream less but to dream more, to dream all the time.
It appears that vice is far more common than one has been led to believe.
A real person, profoundly as we may sympathize with him, is in a great measure perceptible only through our senses, that is to say, remains opaque, presents a dead weight which our sensibilities have not the strength to lift. If some misfortune comes to him, it is only in one small section of the complete idea we have of him that we are capable of feeling any emotion; indeed it is only in one small section of the complete idea he has of himself that he is capable of feeling any emotion either.
A change in the weather is sufficient to recreate the world and ourselves.
It's odd how a person always arouses admiration for his moral qualities among the relatives of another with whom he has sexual relations. Physical love, so unjustifiably decried, makes everyone show, down to the least detail, all he has of goodness and self-sacrifice, so that he shines even in the eyes of those nearest to him.
I find very reasonable the Celtic belief that the souls of our dearly departed are trapped in some inferior being, in an animal, aplant, an inanimate object, indeed lost to us until the day, which for some never arrives, when we find that we pass near the tree, or come to possess the object which is their prison. Then they quiver, call us, and as soon as we have recognized them, the spell is broken. Freed by us, they have vanquished death and return to live with us.
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.
That which we remember of our conduct is ignored by our closest neighbour; but that which we have forgotten having said, or even what we never said, will cause laughter even into the next world.
Our worst fears, like our greatest hopes, are not outside our powers, and we can come in the end to triumph over the former and to achieve the latter.
After a certain age our memories are so intertwined with one another that what we are thinking of, the book we are reading, scarcely matters any more. We have put something of ourselves everywhere, everything is fertile, everything is dangerous, and we can make discoveries no less precious than in Pascal's Pensées in an advertisement for soap.
Certainly, it is more reasonable to devote one's life to women than to postage stamps or old snuff-boxes, even to pictures or statues. But the example of other collections should be a warning to us to diversify, to have not one woman only but several.
Custom! that skillful but unhurrying manager who begins by torturing the mind for weeks on end with her provisional arrangements; whom the mind, for all that, is fortunate in discovering, for without the help of custom it would never contrive, by its own efforts, to make any room seem habitable.
The facts of life do not penetrate to the sphere in which our beliefs are cherished; as it was not they that endangered those beliefs, so they are powerless to destroy them; they can aim at them continual blows of contradiction and disproof without weakening them; and an avalanche of miseries and maladies coming, one after another, without interruption into the bosom of a family, will not make it lose faith in either the clemency of its God or the capacity of its physician.
He went farther; agonised by the reflection, at the moment when it passed by him, so near and yet so infinitely remote, that, while it was addressed to their ears, it knew them not, he would regret, almost, that it had a meaning of its own, an intrinsic and unalterable beauty, foreign to themselves, just as in the jewels given to us, or even in the letters written to us by a woman with whom we are in love, we find fault with the 'water' of a stone, or with the words of a sentence because they are not fashioned exclusively from the spirit of a fleeting intimacy and of a 'lass unaparalleled.
Sometimes in the afternoon sky the moon would pass white as a cloud, furtive, lusterless, like an actress who does not have to perform yet and who, from the audience, in street clothes, watches the other actors for a moment, making herself inconspicuous, not wanting anyone to pay attention to her.
Without inquiring too deeply into the causes which make it possible to find subjects of gaiety always close at hand, the proof of that possibility can be found in the fact that persons of sensitive intelligence are capable of finding comic potentialities in everything and everybody, thereby demonstrating that if some people hold the belief that there is very little that is laughable in the world, the reason is that they lack the ability to find it.
No doubt, having developed the habit, out of idleness, of each day putting off my work until the day after, I thought that death could be dealt with in the same way.
The world was not created once and for all time for each of us individually. There are added to it in the course of our life things of which we have never had any suspicion.
Happiness is beneficial for the body, but it is grief that develops the powers of the mind.
All the products of one period have something in common; the artists who illustrate the poetry of their generation are the same artists who are employed by the big financial houses. And nothing reminds me so much of the monthly parts of Notre-Dame de Paris, and of various books by Gérard de Nerval, that used to hang outside the grocer's door at Combray, than does, in its rectangular and flowery border, supported by recumbent river-gods, a 'personal share' in the Water Company.
There was nothing abnormal about it when homosexuality was the norm.
For every death is a simplification of existence for the others, removes the necessity to show gratitude, the obligation to pay visits.
There is no man, 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.
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 nicest way imaginable, in order to be loved and 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.
I spent many a charming evening talking and playing with Albertine, but none so sweet as when I was watching her sleep.
When we have passed a certain age, the soul of the child we were and the souls of the dead from whom we have sprung come to lavish on us their riches and their spells.
Nothing so tempts us to approach another person as what is keeping us apart; and what barrier is so insurmountable as silence? It has been said also that silence is torture, capable of goading to madness the man who is condemned to it in a prison cell. But what an even greater torture than that of having to keep silence it is to have to endure the silence of the person one loves!
I shall not find a painting more beautiful because the artist has painted a hawthorn in the foreground, though I know of nothing more beautiful than the hawthorn, for I wish to remain sincere and because I know that the beauty of a painting does not depend on the things represented in it. I shall not collect images of hawthorn. I do not venerate hawthorn, I go to see and smell it.
The thirst for something other than what we have…to bring something new, even if it is worse, some emotion, some sorrow; when our sensibility, which happiness has silenced like an idle harp, wants to resonate under some hand, even a rough one, and even if it might be broken by it.
At that time, he was satisfying a sensual curiosity by experiencing the pleasures of people who live for love. He had believed he could stop there, that he would not be obliged to learn their sorrows; how small a thing her charm was for him now compared with the astounding terror that extended out from it like a murky halo, the immense anguish of not knowing at every moment what she had been doing, of not possessing her everywhere and always!
The great quality of true art is that it rediscovers, grasps and reveals to us that reality far from where we live, from which we get farther and farther away as the conventional knowledge we substitute for it becomes thicker and more impermeable.
Even in the most insignificant details of our daily life, none of us can be said to constitute a material whole, which is identical for everyone, and need only be turned up like a page in an account-book or the record of a will; our social personality is created by the thoughts of other people.
It is illness that makes us recognize that we do not live in isolation but are chained to a being from a different realm, worlds apart from us and by whom it is impossible to make ourselves understood: our body. Were we to meet a brigand on the road, we might manage to make him conscious of his own personal interest if not our plight. But to ask pity of our body is like talking to an octopus, for which our words can have no more meaning than the sound of the sea, and with which we should be terrified to find ourselves condemned to live.
And what little she allowed herself to say was said in a strained tone, in which her ingrained timidity paralysed her tendency to freedom and audacity of speech.
A little tap at the window, as though some missile had struck it, followed by a plentiful, falling sound, as light, though, as if a shower of sand were being sprinkled from a window overhead; then the fall spread, took on an order, a rhythm, became liquid, loud, drumming, musical, innumerable, universal. It was the rain.
The fixity of a habit is generally in direct proportion to its absurdity.
We live not alone but chained to a creature of a different kingdom: our body.
Every woman feels that the greater her power over a man, the more impossible it is to leave him except by sudden flight: a fugitive precisely because a queen.
Now are the woods all black, But still the sky is blue.
Habit! that skilful but slow-moving arranger who begins by letting our minds suffer for weeks on end in temporary quarters, but whom our minds are none the less only too happy to discover at last, for without it, reduced to their own devices, they would be powerless to make any room seem habitable.
But one never finds a cathedral, a wave in a storm, a dancer's leap in the air quite as high as one has been expecting;.
And then, gradually, the memory of her would fade away, I had forgotten the girl of my dream.
When the mind has a tendency to dream, it is a mistake to keep dreams away from it, to ration its dreams. So long as you distract your mind from its dreams, it will not know them for what they are; you will always be being taken in by the appearance of things, because you will not have grasped their true nature. If a little dreaming is dangerous, the cure for it is not to dream less but to dream more, to dream all the time. One must have a thorough understanding of one.
There is, following an ample meal, a sort of pause in time, filled with a gentle slackening of thought and energy, when to sit doing nothing gives us a sense of life's richness and a feeling that the least effort would be intolerable. The melancholy we took with us to table has disappeared and, if we think of it at all it is only to smile, as at some black mood now past, its cause having gone. And with the melancholy, all scruple, all remorse departs from us.
And so when studying faces, we do indeed measure them, but as painters, not as surveyors.
The charms of the passing woman are generally in direct proportion to the swiftness of her passing.
Even the simple act which we describe as 'seeing someone we know' is, to some extent, an intellectual process. We pack the physical outline of the creature we see with all the ideas we already formed about him, and in the complete picture of him which we compose in our minds those ideas have certainly the principal place. In the end they come to fill out so completely the curve of his cheeks, to follow so exactly the line of his nose, they blend so harmoniously in the sound of his voice that these seem to be no more than a transparent envelope, so that each time we see the face or hear the voice it is our own ideas of him which we recognize and to which we listen.
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.
Neurosis has an absolute genius for malingering. There is no illness which it cannot counterfeit perfectly. If it is capable of deceiving the doctor, how should it fail to deceive the patient.
The beauty of images lies behind things, the beauty of ideas in front of them.
The air of those rooms was saturated with the fine bouquet of a silence so nourishing, so succulent, that I never went into them without a sort of greedy anticipation, particularly on those first mornings, chilly still, of the Easter holidays, when I could taste it more fully because I had only just arrived in Combray.
Long after the poor departed have gone from our hearts, their insignificant dust continues to be mingled, to be used as an alloy, with the events of the past.
We must never be afraid to go too far, for truth lies beyond.
Princes know themselves to be princes, and are not snobs; besides, they believe themselves to be so far above everything that is not of their blood royal that noblemen and commoners appear, in the depths beneath them, to be practically on a level.
Truth is a point of view about things.
The only true paradises are the paradises that we have lost.
There are mountainous, arduous days, up which one takes an infinite time to climb, and downward-sloping days which one can descend at full tilt, singing as one goes.
When we are nice to others, we generally lose all claim to their respect.
A man who falls straight into bed night after night, and ceases to live until the moment when he wakes and rises, will surely never dream of making, I don't say great discoveries, but even minor observations about sleep. He scarcely knows that he is asleep. A little insomnia is not without its value in making us appreciate sleep, in throwing a ray of light upon that darkness.
We may, indeed, say that the hour of death is uncertain, but when we say this we think of that hour as situated in a vague and remorse expanse of time; it does not occur to us that it can have any connexion with the day that has already dawned and can mean that death -- -or its first assault and partial possession of us, after which it will never leave hold of us again -- -may occur this very afternoon, so far from uncertain, this afternoon whose timetable, hour by hour, has been settled in advance.
It is always during a passing state of mind that we make lasting resolutions.
The only possible paradises are those we have lost.
That translucent alabaster of our memories.
Often the fairest impression that remains in our minds of a favourite air is one which has arisen out of a jumble of wrong notes struck by unskillful fingers upon a tuneless piano.
Aristocracy is a relative thing. And there are plenty of out-of-the-way places where the son of an upholsterer is the arbiter of fashion and reigns over a court like any young Prince of Wales.
There is probably not one person, however great his virtue, who cannot be led by the complexities of life's circumstances to a familiarity with the vices he condemns the most vehemently -- without his completely recognizing this vice which, disguised as certain events, touches him and wounds him: strange words, an inexplicable attitude, on a given night, of the person whom he otherwise has so many reasons to love.
All I could remember was her smile. Unable to picture the loved face, however strenuously I tried to make myself remember it, I was for ever irritated to find that my memory had retained exact replicas of the striking and futile faces of the roundabout man and the barley-sugar woman, just as the bereaved, who each night search their dreams in vain for the lost beloved, will find their sleep is peopled by all manner of exasperating and unbearable intruders, whom they have always found, even in the waking world, more than dislikable. Faced with the impossibility of seeing clearly the object of their grief, they come close to accusing themselves of not grieving, just as I was tempted to believe that my inability to "remember the features of Gilberte's face meant that I had forgotten her and had stopped loving her.
She exclaimed, the innate respectability of the middle-class housewife rising impulsively to the surface through the acquired dilettantism of the 'light woman.'
People who enjoyed 'picking-up' things, who admired poetry, despised sordid calculations of profit and loss, and nourished ideals of honour and love, she placed in a class by themselves, superior to the rest of humanity.
In my most desperate moments, I have never conceived of anything more horrible than a law office.
I learned that identical emotions do not spring up in the hearts of all men simultaneously, by a pre-established order. Later on I discovered that, whenever I had read for too long and was in a mood for conversation, the friend to whom I would be burning to say something would at that moment have finished indulging himself in the delights of conversation, and wanted nothing now but to be left to read undisturbed.