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Posted by clissold345 on August 30, 2007

Proust likens the tables in the restaurant to planets (each planet attracting the planets around it). The waiters revolve around the tables (like stars?). Proust’s analogy is perhaps far-fetched but I share his pity for any diners who are unable – even for an instant – to see beyond the customary appearance of things.

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

Et je plaignais un peu tous les dîneurs parce que je sentais que pour eux les tables rondes n’étaient pas des planètes et qu’ils n’avaient pas pratiqué dans les choses un sectionnement qui nous débarrasse de leur apparence coutumière et nous permet d’apercevoir des analogies. Ils pensaient qu’ils dînaient avec telle ou telle personne, que le repas coûterait à peu près tant et qu’ils recommenceraient le lendemain. (Page 75 of volume 5 of the Gallimard edition, Paris, 1946-47.)

Moncrieff translates as follows:

And I rather pitied all the diners because I felt that for them the round tables were not planets and that they had not cut through the scheme of things one of those sections which deliver us from the bondage of appearances and enable us to perceive analogies. They thought that they were dining with this or that person, that the dinner would cost roughly so much, and that to-morrow they would begin all over again.


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