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Beneath the Surface

Posted by clissold345 on August 23, 2007

I admire Proust for his insights (perhaps I should say he sometimes makes thoughts sound like insights). For example, the insight that sometimes the trivial and tragic continue hand in hand. In front of others we continue to talk as if nothing crucial has happened, our thoughts even follow the conversation. However, at times we are also aware very strongly that we’ve had the crucial answer, the answer we’ve been waiting for for a year, and that misfortune has struck us down.

The passage I’m discussing above is from In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower:

Au milieu d’autres personnes, nous recevons de celle que nous aimons la réponse favorable ou mortelle que nous attendions depuis une année. Mais il faut continuer à causer, les idées s’ajoutent les unes aux autres, développant une surface sous laquelle c’est à peine si de temps à autre vient sourdement affleurer le souvenir autrement profond, mais fort étroit, que le malheur est venu pour nous. (Page 172 of volume 5 of the Gallimard edition, Paris, 1946-47.)

Moncrieff translates as follows:

In a room full of other people we receive from her whom we love the answer, propitious or fatal, which we have been awaiting for the last year. But we must go on talking, ideas come, one after another, forming a smooth surface which is pricked, at the very most, now and then by a dull throb from within of the memory, deep-rooted enough but of very slender growth, that misfortune has come upon us.


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