Remembrance of Things Past: Volume I - Swann's Way & Within a Budding Grove (À la recherche du temps perdu #1-2)

Aquella alcoba chiquita, tan alta de techo, que se alzaba en forma de pirámide, ocupando la altura de dos pisos, revestida en parte de caoba y en donde me sentí desde el primer momento moralmente envenenado por el olor nuevo, desconocido para mí, de la petiveria, y convencido de la hostilidad de las cortinas moradas y de la insolente indiferencia del reloj de péndulo, que se pasaba las horas chirriando, como si allí no hubiera nadie; cuarto en donde un extraño e implacable espejo, sostenido en cuadradas patas, se atravesaba oblicuamente en uno de los rincones de la habitación, abriéndose a la fuerza en la dulce plenitud de mi campo visual acostumbrado, un lugar que no estaba previsto y en donde mi pensamiento sufrió noches muy crueles afanándose durante horas y horas por dislocarse, por estirarse hacia lo alto para poder tomar cabalmente la forma de la habitación y llenar hasta arriba su gigantesco embudo, mientras yo estaba echado en mi cama, con los ojos mirando al techo, el oído avizor, las narices secas y el corazón palpitante; hasta que la costumbre cambió el color de las cortinas, enseñó al reloj a ser silencioso y al espejo, sesgado y cruel, a ser compasivo; disimuló, ya que no llegara a borrarlo por completo, el olor de la petiveria, e introdujo notable disminución en la altura aparente del techo.

...a writer's works, like the water in an artesian well, mount to a height which is in proportion to the depth to which suffering has penetrated his soul.

But when from a long-distant past nothing subsists, after the people are dead, after the things are broken and scattered, taste and smell alone, more fragile but more enduring, more unsubstantial, more persistent, more faithful, remain poised a long time, like souls, remembering, waiting, hoping, amid the ruins of all the rest; and bear unflinchingly, in the tiny and almost impalpable drop of their essence, the vast structure of recollection. And as soon as

Carried away in a sort of dream, he smiled, then he began to hurry back towards the lady; he was walking faster than usual, and his shoulders swayed backwards and forwards, right and left, in the most absurd fashion; altogether he looked, so utterly had he abandoned himself to it, ignoring all other considerations, as though he were the lifeless and wire-pulled puppet of his own happiness.

Every person is destroyed when we cease to see him; after which his next appearance is a new creation, different from that which immediately preceded it, if not from them all.

For a long time I used to go to bed early.

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.

L'habitude! aménageuse habile mais bien lente et qui commence par laisser souffrir notre esprit pendant des semaines dans une installation provisoire; mais que malgré tout il est bien heureux de trouver, car sans l'habitude et réduit à ses seuls moyens il serait impuissant à nous rendre un logis habitable.

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.

Nine tenths of the ills from which intelligent people suffer spring from their intellect.

Perhaps the immobility of the things that surround us is forced upon them by our conviction that they are themselves, and not anything else, and by the immobility of our conceptions of them.

Quell’anno, quando, un po’ prima del solito, i miei genitori ebbero fissato la data del ritorno a Parigi, la mattina della partenza, poiché per fotografarmi mi avevano fatto arricciare i capelli, sistemato con cautela un cappello che non avevo ancora mai portato e fatto indossare un cappottino di velluto, mia madre, dopo avermi cercato dappertutto, mi trovò in lacrime sul breve, ripido sentiero, vicino a Tansonville, nell'atto di dire addio ai biancospini, mentre abbracciavo i rami pungenti, e, come una principessa da tragedia a cui pesassero quei vani ornamenti, ingrato verso la mano importuna che intrecciando tutti quei nodi aveva avuto cura di raccogliermi i capelli sulla fronte, calpestavo i miei bigodini strappati e il mio cappello nuovo. La mamma non si commosse alle mie lacrime, ma non poté trattenere un grido alla vista del cappello sfondato e del cappotto da buttar via. Non l’udii: «Miei poveri, piccoli biancospini, dicevo piangendo, non voi, certo, vorreste farmi del male, costringermi a partire. Voi, voi non m’avete mai fatto soffrire! Perciò vi amerò sempre». E, asciugandomi le lacrime, promettevo loro che, quando fossi stato grande, non avrei imitato la vita insensata degli altri uomini e, anche a Parigi, nei giorni di primavera, invece di recarmi a far visite e ad ascoltare sciocchezze, sarei corso in campagna a vedere i primi biancospini.

She's on the stairs, ma'am, getting her breath,' said the young servant, who had not been long up from the country, where my mother had the excellent habit of getting all her servants. Often she had seen them born. That's the only way to get really good ones. And they're the rarest of luxuries.

There is no man...however wise, who has not at some period in his youth said things, or lived a life, the memory of which is so unpleasant to him that he would gladly expunge it. And yet he ought not entirely to regret it, because he cannot be certain that he has indeed become a wise man...

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.

We are all of us obliged, if we are to make reality endurable, to nurse a few little follies in ourselves.