Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Vive la france

But the characteristic feature of the silly phase through which I was passing—a phase by no means irresponsive, indeed highly fertile—is that we do not consult our intelligence and that the most trivial attributes of other people seem to us then to form an inseparable part of their personality. In a world thronged with monsters and with gods, we are barely conscious of tranquillity. There is hardly one of the actions which we performed in that phase which we would not give anything, in later life, to be able to erase from our memory. Whereas what we ought to regret is that we no longer possess the spontaneity which made us perform them. In later life we look at things in a more practical way, in full conformity with the rest of society, but youth was the only time in which we learned anything.
From À l'ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs by Marcel Proust, translated by C. K. Scott Moncrieff

On the train this morning, while I was settling in and taking my copy of Proust from my backpack, I noticed that the woman sitting next to me was reading Les Misérables. Everyone else seemed to be looking at cell phones.


  1. Soon, Scott, ink-and-paper books might be rare relics; readers -- to the extent that they will still exist -- will be using electronic access to books. However, that prediction aside, there is something special about two such different French novels being read by two people on the same train at the same time. What are the odds!

    1. Sadly, what I see on the various cell phones around me during my commute tends to be Pokemon-Go and Twitter.

      Maybe there's a Hugo/Proust revival in the works!