A Word from the Author


Proust occasionally inserts his own voice into the novel, as if to say, “Don’t forget about me! This is my novel.” The only authorial voice we should expect to hear is that of the elderly Marcel, writing his memoire. In this point of view, the characters are former acquaintances of the author, not “characters.”

Before we come back to Jupien’s shop, the author would like to say how grieved he would be if the reader were to be offended by his portrayal of such weird characters…But it is not the less true that considerable interest, not to say beauty, may be found in actions inspired by a cast of mind so remote from anything we feel, from anything we believe, that they remain incomprehensible to us, displaying themselves before our eyes like a spectacle without rhyme or reason. What could be more poetic than Xerxes, son of Darius, ordering the sea to be scourged with rods for having engulfed his fleet? (V,52-53)

 The novelist is not at all coy about himself here, where the protagonist finally gets a name.

Then she would find her tongue and say: “My–” or “My darling–” followed by my Christian name, which , if we give the narrator the same name as the author of this book, would be “My Marcel,” or “My darling Marcel.” (V,91)

The novelist and narrator are so entwined in this passage that I am unable to parse it.

And yet, my dear Charles Swann, whom I used to know when I was still so young and you were nearing your grave, it is because he whom you must have regarded as a y0ung idiot has made you the hero of one of his novels that people are beginning so speak of you again and that your name will perhaps live. If, in Tissot’s picture representing the balcony of the Rue Royale club, where you figure with Galliffet, Edmond de Polignac and Saint-Maurice, people are always drawing attention to you, it is because they see that there are some traces of you in the character of Swann. (V,262-263)

 

 

 

 

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One Response to “A Word from the Author”

  1. Jim Everett Says:

    The Tissot painting, I have learned, depicts Charles Haas, the person widely believed to be the source of the Swann character. Insert Haas’s name in the passage and it becomes legible, though still in the voice of the author.

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