Explosions in the Dark


For Marcel memories are impregnated with sensations. Often they provoke pleasure, as those laid down in childhood.

So then my life was entirely altered. What had constituted its sweetness–not because of Albertine, but concurrently with her, when I was alone–was precisely the perpetual resurgence, at the bidding of identical moments, of moments from the past. From the sound of pattering raindrops I recaptured the scent of the lilacs at Combray, from the shifting of the sun’s rays on the balcony the pigeons in the Champs Elysées; from the muffling of sounds in the heat of the morning hours, the cool taste of cherries; the longing for Brittany or Venice from the noise of the wind and return of Easter. (V,645)

Those associated with a loved one who is recently dead are full of pain.

And if Françoise, when she came in, accidentally disturbed the folds of the big curtains, I stifled a cry of pain at the rent that had just been made in my heart by that ray of long-ago sunlight which had made beautiful in my eyes the modern facade of Marcouville-l’Orgueilleuse when Albertine had said to me: “It’s restored,” Not knowing how to account to Francoise for my groan, I said to her: “Oh, I’m so thirsty.” She left the room, then returned, but I turned sharply away under the impact of the painful discharge of one the thousand invisible memories which incessantly exploded around me in the darkness. (V,646)

It was not enough now to draw the curtains; I tried to stop the eyes and ears of my memory in order not to see that band of orange in the western sky, in order not to hear those invisible birds responding from one tree to the next on either side of me who was then so tenderly embraced by her who was now dead. I  tried to avoid those sensations that are produced by the dampness of leaves in the evening air, the rise and fall of humpback roads. But already those sensations had gripped me once more, carrying me far enough back from the present moment to give the necessary recoil, the necessary momentum to strike me anew, to the idea that Albertine was dead. (V,647)

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