The Lovers’ Almanac 16 November – Denouement – Those Days – À la recherche du temps perdu

Dear Zazie,  Here is today’s Lovers’ Almanac from Mac Tag dedicated to his muse.  Have you wondered if those days would ever come back?  Rhett

The Lovers’ Almanac

Dear Muse,

used to be, all about
searchin’ for what
I thought was lost
for lost coulda, shoulda
a dreadful crime
for certain,
wastin’ so much time

now content to write
and ride the wave
of memories
the voluntary,
the involuntary
the beauty
and the sorrow

after takin’ several readin’s
this is startin’ to feel
more and more
like the denouement
the days fraught with angst
are givin’ way to a sense of peace
that comes with a growin’
acceptance of the inevitable
the meant to be,
the, there never ever
coulda been a shoulda been

© copyright 2017 mac tag/cowboy Coleridge all rights reserved

This one started out with me thinkin’ of the perfect day and you.  Then voilà, the Poem of the Day.

Those Days

We wake early
I bring coffee in bed
We work out, then we eat
I start writin’ on the porch
or in front of the fireplace
You climb the stairs to the studio
to release your inner impressions
We have dinner… we lay down together
We rise and work at other things
We take long walks on the plains
We work again on our visions
And my favorite part;
we prepare supper together,
pasta, fresh produce and herbs
from the garden, grilled meat,
and a good bottle, or two, of pinot noir
After we eat, we talk, read,
sittin’ across from each other
on the porch or in front of the fire
We go to bed… we love we dream…
Year round I dream the same dream
That these days could come again

© copyright 2012 mac tag/Cowboy Coleridge all rights reserved

The Song of the Day is “These Days” by Chantal Kreviazuk.

In Search of Lost Time (Remembrance of Things Past)
MS A la recherche du temps perdu.jpg

A first galley proof of À la recherche du temps perdu: Du côté de chez Swann with Proust’s handwritten corrections

It was on this day in 1913 that the first volume of Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time (French: À la recherche du temps perdu) was published. It is a novel in seven volumes, written by Marcel Proust (1871–1922). In my opinion, his most prominent work, known both for its length and its theme of involuntary memory, the most famous example being the “episode of the madeleine” which occurs early in the first volume. It gained fame in English in translations by C. K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin as Remembrance of Things Past, but the title In Search of Lost Time, a literal rendering of the French, has gained usage since D. J. Enright adopted it for his revised translation published in 1992.

In Search of Lost Time follows the narrator’s recollections of childhood and experiences into adulthood during late 19th century to early 20th century aristocratic France, while reflecting on the loss of time and lack of meaning to the world. Proust began work on the novel in 1909 and continued to work on it until his final illness in the autumn of 1922 forced him to break off. Proust established the structure early on, but even after volumes were initially finished he kept adding new material. The last three of the seven volumes contain oversights and fragmentary or unpolished passages, as they existed only in draft form at his death. The publication of these parts was overseen by his brother Robert.

The work was published in France between 1913 and 1927. Proust paid for the publication of the first volume (by the Grasset publishing house) after it had been turned down by leading editors who had been offered the manuscript in longhand. Many of its ideas, motifs and scenes are foreshadowed in Proust’s unfinished novel, Jean Santeuil (1896–99), though the perspective and treatment there are different, and in his unfinished hybrid of philosophical essay and story, Contre Sainte-Beuve (1908–09).

Illiers, the country town overlooked by a church steeple where Proust spent time as a child and which he described as “Combray” in the novel. The town adopted the name Illiers-Combray in homage.

Portrait of Mme Georges Bizet, née Geneviève Halévy, by Jules-Élie Delaunay, in Musée d’Orsay (1878). She served as partial inspiration for the character of Odette.

The beach at Cabourg, a seaside resort that was the model for Balbec in the novel

Élisabeth, Countess Greffulhe1905, by Philip Alexius de Laszlo, who served as the model for the character of the Duchesse de Guermantes


The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, John Martin, 1852. The fourth volume opens with a discussion of the inhabitants of the two Biblical “cities of the plain.”


Léontine Lippmann (1844–1910), better known by her married name of Madame Arman or Madame Arman de Caillavet, was the model for Proust’s Madame Verdurin.


Robert de Montesquiou, the main inspiration for Baron de Charlus in À la recherche du temps perdu

In Search of Lost Time (1913-1927)

À la recherche du temps perdu. Alternative translation of title: Remembrance of Things Past. The first six volumes were translated by C. K. Scott-Moncrieff from 1922 to 1930, with a revised translation by Terence Kilmartin in 1981 and a further revision by D.J Enright in 1992. The seventh and final volume was translated by Frederick Blossom and published in 1932.

Vol I: Swann’s Way (1913)

Du côté de chez Swann

  • Même au point de vue des plus insignifiantes choses de la vie, nous ne sommes pas un tout matériellement constitué, identique pour tout le monde et dont chacun n’a qu’à aller prendre connaissance comme d’un cahier des charges ou d’un testament; notre personnalité sociale est une création de la pensée des autres.
    • 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.
    • “Overture”
  • Mais, quand d’un passé ancien rien ne subsiste, après la mort des êtres, après la destruction des choses, seules, plus frêles mais plus vivaces, plus immatérielles, plus persistantes, plus fidèles, l’odeur et la saveur restent encore longtemps, comme des âmes, à se rappeler, à attendre, à espérer, sur la ruine de tout le reste, à porter sans fléchir, sur leur gouttelette presque impalpable, l’édifice immense du souvenir.Et dès que j’eus reconnu le goût du morceau de madeleine trempé dans le tilleul que me donnait ma tante (quoique je ne susse pas encore et dusse remettre à bien plus tard de découvrir pourquoi ce souvenir me rendait si heureux), aussitôt la vieille maison grise sur la rue, où était sa chambre, vint comme un décor de théâtre.
    • When from a long-distant past nothing subsists, after the people are dead, after the things are broken and scattered, still, alone, more fragile, but with more vitality, more unsubstantial, more persistent, more faithful, the smell and taste of things remain poised a long time, like souls, ready to remind us, waiting and hoping for their moment, amid the ruins of all the rest; and bear unfaltering, in the tiny and almost impalpable drop of their essence, the vast structure of recollection.And once again I had recognized the taste of the crumb of madeleine soaked in her decoction of lime-flowers which my aunt used to give me (although I did not yet know and must long postpone the discovery of why this memory made me so happy), immediately the old gray house upon the street, where her room was, rose up like the scenery of a theater.
    • “Overture”
  • À partir de cet instant, je n’avais plus un seul pas à faire, le sol marchait pour moi dans ce jardin où depuis si longtemps mes actes avaient cessé d’être accompagnés d’attention volontaire: l’Habitude venait de me prendre dans ses bras et me portait jusqu’à mon lit comme un petit enfant.
    • From that instant I had not to take another step; the ground moved forward under my feet in that garden where, for so long, my actions had ceased to require any control, or even attention, from my will. Custom came to take me in her arms, carried me all the way up to my bed, and laid me down there like a little child.
    • “Combray”
  • They would have preferred for me, instead of Bloch, companions who would have given me no more than it is proper to give according to the laws of middle-class morality, who would not unexpectedly send me a basket of fruit because they happened, that morning, to have thought of me with affection, but who, being incapable of inclining in my favour, by a simple impulse of imagination and sensibility, the exact balance of the duties and claims of friendship, would be equally incapable of loading the scales to my detriment. Even our faults will not easily divert from the path of their duty towards us those conventional natures of which the model was my great-aunt who, estranged for years from a niece to whom she never spoke, yet made no change in the will in which she left that niece the whole of her fortune, because she was her next-of-kin and it was the ‘proper thing to do.’
    • “Combray”
  • Autrefois on rêvait de posséder le cœur de la femme dont on était amoureux; plus tard sentir qu’on possède le cœur d’une femme peut suffire à vous en rendre amoureux.
    • In his younger days a man dreams of possessing the heart of the woman whom he loves; later, the feeling that he possesses the heart of a woman may be enough to make him fall in love with her.
    • “Swann in Love”

Vol II: Within a Budding Grove (1919)

À l’ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs

  • 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 make it our duty to practice them, that, if we are suddenly called upon to perform some action of a different order, it takes us by surprise, and without our supposing for a moment that it might involve the bringing of those very same virtues into play.
  • Fashions, being themselves begotten of the desire for change, are quick to change also.
  • Et non seulement on ne retient pas tout de suite les œuvres vraiment rares, mais même au sein de chacune de ces œuvres-là, et cela m’arriva pour la Sonate de Vinteuil, ce sont les parties les moins précieuses qu’on perçoit d’abord… Moins décevants que la vie, ces grands chefs-d’œuvre ne commencent pas par nous donner ce qu’ils ont de meilleur.
    • And not only does one not seize at once and retain an impression of works that are really great, but even in the content of any such work (as befell me in the case of Vinteuil’s sonata) it is the least valuable parts that one at first perceives… Less disappointing than life is, great works of art do not begin by giving us all their best.
    • Ch. I: “Madame Swann at Home”
  • Ce qu’on appelle la postérité, c’est la postérité de l’œuvre.
    • What artists call posterity is the posterity of the work of art.
    • Ch. I: “Madame Swann at Home”
  • Le temps dont nous disposons chaque jour est élastique; les passions que nous ressentons le dilatent, celles que nous inspirons le rétrécissent et l’habitude le remplit.
    • 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.
    • Ch. I: “Madame Swann at Home”
  • Ce n’est jamais qu’à cause d’un état d’esprit qui n’est pas destiné à durer qu’on prend des résolutions définitives.
    • It is always thus, impelled by a state of mind which is destined not to last, that we make our irrevocable decisions.
    • Ch. I: “Madame Swann at Home”
  • Faced with the thoughts, the actions of a woman whom we love, we are as completely at a loss as the world’s first natural philosophers must have been, face to face with the phenomena of nature, before their science had been elaborated and had cast a ray of light over the unknown.
  • Les traits de notre visage ne sont guère que des gestes devenus, par l’habitude, définitifs.
    • The features of our face are hardly more than gestures become, by habit, permanent.
    • Ch. IV: “Seascape, with a Frieze of Girls”
  • On ne reçoit pas la sagesse, il faut la découvrir soi-même après un trajet que personne ne peut faire pour nous, ne peut nous épargner.
    • We are not provided with wisdom, we must discover it for ourselves, after a journey through the wilderness which no one else can take for us, an effort which no one can spare us.
    • Ch. IV: “Seascape, with a Frieze of Girls”
  • [Le bonheur] est, dans l’amour, un état anormal.
    • In love, happiness is an abnormal state.

Vol III: The Guermantes Way (1920)

Le Côté de Guermantes

  • Tout ce que nous connaissons de grand nous vient des nerveux. Ce sont eux et non pas d’autres qui ont fondé les religions et composé les chefs-d’œuvre.
    • Translation: Everything great in the world comes from neurotics. They alone have founded our religions and composed our masterpieces.
    • Volume I

Vol. IV: Cities of the Plain (1921-1922)

Sodome et Gomorrhe

  • Il n’y avait pas d’anormaux quand l’homosexualité était la norme.
    • There was nothing abnormal about it when homosexuality was the norm.
    • Pt. I
  • Comme tous les gens qui ne sont pas amoureux, il s’imaginait qu’on choisit la personne qu’on aime après mille délibérations et d’après des qualités et convenances diverses.
    • Like everybody who is not in love, he imagined that one chose the person whom one loved after endless deliberations and on the strength of various qualities and advantages.
    • Pt. II, Ch. 1
  • La maladie est le plus écouté des médecins: à la bonté, au savoir on ne fait que promettre; on obéit à la souffrance.
    • Illness is the doctor to whom we pay most heed; to kindness, to knowledge, we make promises only; pain we obey.
    • Pt. II, Ch. 1
  • Nous désirons passionnément qu’il y ait une autre vie où nous serions pareils à ce que nous sommes ici-bas. Mais nous ne réfléchissons pas que, même sans attendre cette autre vie, dans celle-ci, au bout de quelques années, nous sommes infidèles à ce que nous avons été, à ce que nous voulions rester immortellement.
    • We passionately long that there may be another life in which we shall be similar to what we are here below. But we do not pause to reflect that, even without waiting for that other life, in this life, after a few years we are unfaithful to what we have been, to what we wished to remain immortally.
    • Pt. II, Ch. 2

Vol. V: The Captive (1923)

La Prisonnière

  • Le seul véritable voyage, le seul bain de Jouvence, ce ne serait pas d’aller vers de nouveaux paysages, mais d’avoir d’autres yeux, de voir l’univers avec les yeux d’un autre, de cent autres, de voir les cent univers que chacun d’eux voit, que chacun d’eux est.
    • The only true voyage of discovery, the only fountain of Eternal Youth, would be not to visit strange lands but to possess other eyes, to behold the universe through the eyes of another, of a hundred others, to behold the hundred universes that each of them beholds, that each of them is.
    • Ch. II: “The Verdurins Quarrel with M. de Charlus”
  • L’amour, c’est l’espace et le temps rendus sensibles au coeur.
    • Love is space and time made tender to the heart.
    • Variant translations:
      • Love is space and time made sensitive to the heart.
      • Love is space and time measured by the heart.
  • L’adultère introduit l’esprit dans la lettre que bien souvent le mariage eût laissée morte.
    • Adultery breathes new life into marriages which have been left for dead.

Vol. VI: The Sweet Cheat Gone (1925)

Albertine disparue. Also known as La fugitive

  • Les liens entre un être et nous n’existent que dans notre pensée. La mémoire en s’affaiblissant les relâche, et, malgré l’illusion dont nous voudrions être dupes et dont, par amour, par amitié, par politesse, par respect humain, par devoir, nous dupons les autres, nous existons seuls. L’homme est l’être qui ne peut sortir de soi, qui ne connaît les autres qu’en soi, et, en disant le contraire, ment.
    • The bonds that unite another person to ourself exist only in our mind. Memory as it grows fainter relaxes them, and notwithstanding the illusion by which we would fain be cheated and with which, out of love, friendship, politeness, deference, duty, we cheat other people, we exist alone. Man is the creature that cannot emerge from himself, that knows his fellows only in himself; when he asserts the contrary, he is lying.
    • Ch. I: “Grief and Oblivion”
  • Nous n’arrivons pas à changer les choses selon notre désir, mais peu à peu notre désir change. La situation que nous espérions changer parce qu’elle nous était insupportable, nous devient indifférente. Nous n’avons pas pu surmonter l’obstacle, comme nous le voulions absolument, mais la vie nous l’a fait tourner, dépasser, et c’est à peine alors si en nous retournant vers le lointain du passé nous pouvons l’apercevoir, tant il est devenu imperceptible.
    • 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.
    • Ch. I: “Grief and Oblivion”
  • Une femme est d’une plus grande utilité pour notre vie si elle y est, au lieu d’un élément de bonheur, un instrument de chagrin, et il n’y en a pas une seule dont la possession soit aussi précieuse que celle des vérités qu’elle nous découvre en nous faisant souffrir.
    • A woman is of greater service to our life if she is in it, instead of being an element of happiness, an instrument of sorrow, and there is not a woman in the world the possession of whom is as precious as that of the truths which she reveals to us by causing us to suffer.
    • Ch. I: “Grief and Oblivion”
  • On ne guérit d’une souffrance qu’à condition de l’éprouver pleinement.
    • We are healed of a suffering only by experiencing it to the full.
    • Ch. I: “Grief and Oblivion”
  • Il n’y a pas une idée qui ne porte en elle sa réfutation possible, un mot, le mot contraire.
    • There is no idea that does not carry in itself a possible refutation, no word that does not imply its opposite.
    • Ch. II: “Mademoiselle de Forcheville”
  • Aussi, les demeures disposées des deux côtés du chenal faisaient penser à des sites de la nature, mais d’une nature qui aurait créé ses œvres avec une imagination humaine.
    • In this way, the mansions arranged along either bank of the canal made one think of objects of nature, but of a nature which seemed to have created its works with a human imagination.
    • Ch. III: Venise

Vol. VII: The Past Recaptured (1927)

Le temps retrouvé

  • Par l’art seulement, nous pouvons sortir de nous, savoir ce que voit un autre de cet univers qui n’est pas le même que le nôtre et dont les paysages nous seraient restés aussi inconnus que ceux qu’il peut y avoir dans la lune. Grâce à l’art, au lieu de voir un seul monde, le nôtre, nous le voyons se multiplier, et autant qu’il y a d’artistes originaux, autant nous avons de mondes à notre disposition, plus différents les uns des autres que ceux qui roulent dans l’infini et qui, bien des siècles après qu’est éteint le foyer dont il émanait, qu’il s’appelât Rembrandt ou Vermeer, nous envoient encore leur rayon spécial.Ce travail de l’artiste, de chercher à apercevoir sous la matière, sous de l’expérience, sous des mots, quelque chose de différent, c’est exactement le travail inverse de celui que, à chaque minute, quand nous vivons détourné de nous-même, l’amour-propre, la passion, l’intelligence, et l’habitude aussi accomplissent en nous, quand elles amassent au-dessus de nos impressions vraies, pour nous les cacher entièrement, les nomenclatures, les buts pratiques que nous appelons faussement la vie.
    • By art alone we are able to get outside ourselves, to know what another sees of this universe which for him is not ours, the landscapes of which would remain as unknown to us as those of the moon. Thanks to art, instead of seeing one world, our own, we see it multiplied and as many original artists as there are, so many worlds are at our disposal, differing more widely from each other than those which roll round the infinite and which, whether their name be Rembrandt or Vermeer, send us their unique rays many centuries after the hearth from which they emanate is extinguished.This labour of the artist to discover a means of apprehending beneath matter and experience, beneath words, something different from their appearance, is of an exactly contrary nature to the operation in which pride, passion, intelligence and habit are constantly engaged within us when we spend our lives without self-communion, accumulating as though to hide our true impressions, the terminology for practical ends which we falsely call life.
    • Ch. III: “An Afternoon Party at the House of the Princesse de Guermantes”
  • Le bonheur est salutaire pour le corps, mais c’est le chagrin qui développe les forces de l’esprit.
    • Happiness is beneficial for the body but it is grief that develops the powers of the mind.
    • Ch. III: “An Afternoon Party at the House of the Princesse de Guermantes”

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