Friday, December 11, 2009

Light and grease redux

Proust, The Captive, trans. Scott Moncrieff (mainly because that's the version that's online):
In the early-rising mornings of spring that followed, I could hear the tram-cars moving, through a cloud of perfumes, in an air with which the prevailing warmth became more and more blended until it reached the solidification and density of noon. When the unctuous air had succeeded in varnishing with it and isolating in it the scent of the wash-stand, the scent of the wardrobe, the scent of the sofa, simply by the sharpness with which, vertical and erect, they stood out in adjacent but distinct slices, in a pearly chiaroscuro which added a softer glaze to the shimmer of the curtains and the blue satin armchairs, I saw myself, not by a mere caprice of my imagination, but because it was physically possible, following in some new quarter of the suburbs, like that in which Bloch’s house at Balbec was situated, the streets blinded by the sun, and finding in them not the dull butchers’ shops and the white freestone facings, but the country dining-room which I could reach in no time, and the scents that I would find there on my arrival, that of the bowl of cherries and apricots, the scent of cider, that of gruyère cheese, held in suspense in the luminous congelation of shadow which they delicately vein like the heart of an agate, while the knife-rests of prismatic glass scatter rainbows athwart the room or paint the waxcloth here and there with peacock-eyes.

(I like long sentences a little too much for my own good.) Cf. also here and here. I should note in passing that one of the reasons Proust is a difficult writer is that he's got to be read both somewhat fast (so that you remember the bits in the earlier vols. that correspond to bits in the later vols.) and somewhat carefully (so that you don't skim past the good bits). Had one but world enough and time, I think one would want to do the whole thing at something like five hours a day over two weeks.