Charlotte Reads Classics

Slowly, slowly, she sipped a sentence.

Tag: Marcel Proust

Proust Theme

Proust theme today.

The Hare With Amber Eyes

The Hare with Amber Eyes, Edmund de Waal

This book is so good. Edmund de Waal inherits a collection of 264 japanese netsuke from his great uncle in Tokyo. They have been in his family since they were bought in Paris in the 1870s. Since then they have been handed from one family member to another, and have travelled from Paris to Vienna to England to Tokyo.

Edmund de Waal comes from the Ephrussi family, very European, with an amazing history. The story begins with Charles Ephrussi, the original collector of the netsuke. Charles is one of the two men who were the model for Proust’s master creation: Charles Swann. And this is just the beginning.

Joyfully, de Waal is a wonderful story teller, and gives such a personal tinge to these objects. As he travels around Europe and back through history, he uncovers some difficult and sad moments (a jewish family in Vienna during the second world war speaks for itself). This intelligently emotive history becomes a broader exploration of what it means to collect things and pass them on. Do objects hold a memory of where they’ve been and what has happened to the people who held them?

To All Collectors

Even when one is no longer attached to things, it’s still something to have been attached to them; because it was always for reasons which other people didn’t grasp… Well, now that I’m a little too weary to live with other people, these old feelings, so personal and individual, that I had in the past, seem to me – it’s the mania of all collectors – very precious. I open my heart to myself like a sort of vitrine, and examine one by one all those love affairs of which the world can know nothing. And of this collection to which I’m now much more attached than to my others, I say to myself, rather as Mazarin said of his books, but in fact without the least distress, that it will be very tiresome to have to leave it all.
Marcel Proust, Sodom and Gomorrah (Cities of the Plain) via The Hare with Amber Eyes

In The Shadow of Young Girls in Flower

In Search of Lost Time Volume II: In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower, Marcel Proust

The epic read continues… Overall this second volume was more enjoyable than the first, although perhaps not as beautiful. The book has the tone of memory; the best way I can describe it is that the narrator has tinted everything to a certain hue. And I definitely get the impression I have met some characters that come to be very important in the future. I struggled with keeping the names of everyone straight but I think its understandable with Proust’s 10000+ creations!


Still coming towards me, [the trees] might have been some mythological apparition, a coven of witches, a group of Norns propounding oracles. But I saw them as ghosts from my past, beloved companions from childhood, sometime friends reminding me of shared moments. Like risen shades, they seemed to be asking me to take them with me, to bring them back to the realm of the living.
Marcel Proust, In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower


I was saddened by the loss of my strip of pink sky, when I caught sight of it again, now reddening, in the window on the other side, from which it disappeared at another bend in the line. And I dodged from one window to the other, trying to reassemble the offset intermittent fragments of my lovely, changeable red morning, so as to see it for once as a single lasting picture.
Marcel Proust, In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower


The best way to gain time is to change place.
Marcel Proust, In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower


Because you are now in love with someone who will one day mean nothing to you, you refuse out of hand to meet someone who means nothing to you now, but whom you will one day come to love, someone whom whom you might have loved sooner if you had agreed to an earlier meeting, who might have curtailed your present sufferings (before replacing them, of course, with others).
Marcel Proust, In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower


What makes one so happy is the presence of something unstable in the heart, something one contrives constantly to keep in a state of stability, and which one is hardly even aware of as long as it remains like that.
Marcel Proust on love, In Search of Lost Time: In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower


Perhaps there is only a single mind, in which everybody has a share, a mind to which all of us look, isolated though each of us is within a private body, just as at the theatre where, though every spectator sits in a separate place, there is only one stage.
Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time: In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower