Sweet and Sad


When the ability to hear disappears (“…the loss of a sense adds as much beauty to the world as its acquisition…”), the visual takes on a new intensity. The same may be said of hearing without seeing: The Telephone! Marcel receives his first phone call…

…for always until then, every time that my grandmother had talked to me, I  had been accustomed to follow what she said on the open score of her face, in which the eyes figured so largely; but her voice itself I was hearing this afternoon for the first time. And because that voice appeared to me to have altered in its proportions from the moment that it was a whole, and reached me thus alone and without the accompaniment of her face and features, I discovered for the first time how sweet that voice was; perhaps indeed it had never been so sweet as was now, for my grandmother, thinking of me as being far away and unhappy, felt that she might abandon herself to an outpouring of tenderness which, in accordance with her principles of upbringing, she usually restrained and kept hidden. It was sweet, but also how sad it was, first of all on account of its very sweetness, sweetness drained almost–more than any but a few human voices ever have been–of every element of hardness, of resistance to others, of selfishness! Fragile by reason of is delicacy, it seemed constantly on the verge of breaking, of expiring in a pure flow of tears; then, too, having it alone beside me, seen without the mask of her face, I noticed in it for the first time the sorrows that had cracked it in the course of a lifetime. (III,175)

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