Metaphors and Images


Chernowitz recognizes Proust’s frequent use of paintings in his metaphors.

We must remember that Proust is opposed to merely “describing” objects: it is his “impressions” he wished to convey, since for him an abstract thought is less valuable, less profound than a truth or an image derived from one’s impressions. Is there a better syntactical formula than the simile to express the component parts of an impression, that is, the relation of sensations and memories, or, as Proust defines reality, “un certain rapport entre ces sensations et ces souvenirs qui nous entourent simultanément”? Proust’s search for his impressions and their recapture in literary imagery will therefore proceed by juxtaposing in an analogical relation the sensations of the present with the memories of the past. Thanks to comparison, these elements from different periods of time are harmonized in the sentence almost simultaneously, just like notes in a broken chord.

“…and the life of Odette at all other times, since he knew nothing of it, appeared to him upon a neutral and colorless background, like those sheets of sketches by Watteau upon which one sees, here and there, in every corner and in all directions, traced in three colors and upon the buff paper, innumerable smiles.” (130)

Watteau Sketch of Women’s Faces
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2 Responses to “Metaphors and Images”

  1. Shira Says:

    This is actually a comment regarding your Musil Reader blog (for I’ve yet to read Proust). I’m posting it here because this blog seems to be more active.

    Just wanted to say that I started reading The Man Without Qualities a few days ago (without ever hearing anything about it beforehand. I just came across it on the bookstore). So far I’m astonished by it and wonder how come it’s so criminally overlooked. Anyways, I found your blog and I think it’s really great. You should go on with it!

    Greetings from Israel,
    Shira

    • Jim Everett Says:

      I agree that Musil is unjustly ignored. He deserves to be mentioned in the same breath with Proust and Joyce. Perhaps his Germanic detachment is not as engaging as Gallic passion.

      I intend to return to the Musil blog with Vol 2 of The Man Without Qualities sometime soon.

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