Tuesday, May 05, 2009

The Ultimate Twitterer

Marcel Proust, author of Swann's Way and Remembrance of Things Past, was the ultimate stream-of-consciousness writer. When reading Proust, one gets the sense of how important the immediate sensation of being alive at any given moment was the essence of Proust's reality.
"For a long time I used to go to bed early. Sometimes, when I had put out my candle, my eyes would close so quickly that I had not even time to say to myself: "I'm falling asleep. And half an hour later the thought that it was time to go to sleep would awaken me; I would make as if to put away the book which I imagined was still in my hands, and to blow out the light; I had gone on thinking, while I was asleep, about what I had just been reading, but these thoughts had taken a rather peculiar turn; it seemed to me that I myself was the immediate subject of my book: a church, a quartet, the rivalry between Fran├žois I and Charles V."

Needless to say, reading Proust is intense. I still remember Swann's Way as a novel filled with summer light, something akin to Edwin Hopper's paintings but much warmer in tone and oh so precious in attitude.

This quote below says it all, especially the part with James Joyce, the other great SOC writer, meeting Proust for the first and only time in 1922.

"Throughout his life Proust suffered from asthma. He was looked after by his Jewish mother, to whom the writer was – neurotically – attached. After the death of his father in 1903 and mother in 1905, Proust withdrew gradually from high-society circles. Until 1919 Proust lived in a soundproof flat, at the 102 Boulevard Haussmann, where he devoted himself to writing and introspection. When James Joyce met Proust at a midnight supper in the fashionable Majestic Hotel in May 1922, the two great innovative writers did not speak more than a few words with each other. "Of course the situation was impossible," Joyce recalled later. "Proust's day was just beginning. Mine was at an end."

Molly Bloom's soliloquy at the end of Ulysses is sublime.

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