This morning I woke up with the flavor of “Remembrance of Things Past” swirling in my dreams. Marcel Proust wrote this book before the first World War. I read an excellent translation years ago by Montcrieff. Swann’s Way and the Within the Budding Grove still haunt me. It is written as if in a waking dream, of a man lost in memories of people and places long ago. The writing is delicious, detailed with minute remembrances of the sound of a blue muslin dress, the flower garden in the summer (with their ‘balls of blossoms’), the yearning of a mother’s kiss….
The descriptions of bygone lamp-lit Paris, treacherous Venice and fecund French countryside, with mannerisms and traditions long since blown away like gray ash. Places and time so strange and yet so familiar to us.
At night I too sometimes dream of a home and people that I have left behind, of a past life, of past mannerisms and traditions gone forever, their loss catches me unawares and presses a sweaty palm across my eyes.
“Remembrance” is a trilogy, and written in an era where time walked at a slower pace, where there was leisure to discover and express one’s thoughts (within decorum). The mahogany chairs covered with green velvet (they are uncomfortable), a shivering Duchess covered by a coat of white ermine, the loss of Albertine (a love within reach, but never to be found)….
Such is life in the remembrance of things past.
But my baby had a smile for me this morning, and I soon forgot the book till now. I wanted to capture that fleeting moment of past places and time, that will revisit again.