Wednesday, March 24, 2010

In Search of Lost Time

The Captive, Book V, Part One

". . . is it not true that those elements - all the residuum of reality which we are obliged to keep to ourselves, which cannot be transmitted in talk, even from friend to friend, from master to disciple, from lover to mistress, that ineffable something which differentiates qualitatively what each of us has felt and what he is obliged to leave behind at the threshold of the phrases in which he can communicate with others only by limiting himself to externals, common to all and of no interest - are brought out by art, the art of a Vinteuil like that of an Elstir, which exteriorises in the colors of the spectrum the intimate composition of the worlds which we call individualsand which, but for art, we should never know?

"The only true voyage, the only bath in the Fountain of Youth, would be not to visit strange lands but to possess other eyes, to see the universe through the eyes of another, of a hundred others, to see the hundred universes that each of them sees, that each of them is; and this we can do with an Elstir, with a Vinteuil; with men like these we do really fly from star to star."
- Marcel Proust, The Captive, p 343

The concluding pages of The Captive focus on art, particularly music and literature, perhaps as discussed in the above excerpt to address the ineffable, "which cannot be transmitted by talk". Marcel relies on rumor and his own imagination to fuel his continuing suspicions of Albertine's infidelity. In spite of her captivity he feels the pangs of jealousy from these imaginings and they provide relief from his boredom with her only to add to his pain at the thought of her perverse behavior. Her denials only prove to him that he is right in these thoughts. It is a relief, in a sense, when he becomes somewhat didactic with a litany of literature from Hardy to Dostoevsky and beyond in an attempt to provide examples of the other - of the ineffable. It is not without some relief that this section ends, and with it Albertine's captivity, although it is fairly certain that Marcel's pain is not at an end.

In Search of Lost Time Vol V, The Captive & The Fugitive by Marcel Proust. The Modern Library, New York. 2003 (1923)

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