Saturday, November 07, 2015

A Reading of Proust: Take I

Wallace Fowlie, A Reading of Proust (London: Dennis Dobson, 1967; originally published in 1964).

I originally read this in the late 1980s after meeting Wallace Fowlie (1908-1998) in North Carolina, and still find it interesting and helpful, not only about Marcel Proust -- one of the great and enduring global authors -- but also in its observations about art and writing. Some brief samples follow.

"A literary work is not a copy of life, but the development and . . . deepening of an original intuition. The permanent law of all art is the necessity of choosing . . ." (p. 7).

"If a novel is looked upon as a creation . . . it will inevitably call to mind the analogy with the Creation of the world." (p. 8).

"The artist does not rival the universe, he [or she] is a universe unto himself [or herself] . . . The creation of the novelist, according to one of Marcel Proust's most cherished beliefs, is more 'real' than life . . ." (p. 15). 

"An artist expresses not only himself [or herself], but hundreds of ancestors, the dead who find their spokesman in him [or her]." Because of this, the conscious, psychically aware artist will oftentimes be creating with a certain gravitas.

"The Book ends by becoming, in the language of the poet [Mallarmé], an instrument of the spirit . . . in which the smallest detail has some meaning." (pp. 35-36).

"[Henri] Bergson's distinction between two egos, the social ego (le moi social) with its discursive knowledge, and the real ego (le moi profound) which is intuitive and and continuous, residing below the social self, will be brilliantly illustrated in Proustian psychology." (p. 37).

"[The poet Charles] Baudelaire and Proust were both deeply and persistently conscious of the vanity of man's ambitions, of most . . . achievements and even of . . . existence, and yet their work retains and consecrates the poetry, the magic  and the beauty of certain moments of life." (p. 40).

In Proust, "the  principle becomes clear to the narrator that the past which seems lost because it is time elapsed is not lost. It is within us, and ready, under the appropriate circumstances and the appropriate stimuli to return as the present . . . Time is constantly destroying the present. But memory is able to restore the past . . ." (p. 55).

And: "A lifetime is required to understand life" (p. 84) -- or even a substantial part of it. In a strange sense, life's past moments become more important in the act of remembering them, funding them with deeper meaning than could have been understood the first time around.

D'accord. Today's Rune: Signals. 


Charles Gramlich said...

the intersection between writing and creativity has always fascinated me. Perhaps the closest a human can get to a god-like feeling

the walking man said...

I never felt like I was creating something new when I write--I simply write but time, time does intersect with the one doing the writing and the past can be adjusted in the present. Not in the "I was offered a scholarship to West Point, well not really" sort of way, But one can go back in memory, time and find the lost best qualities of the one journeying and bring them forward again. We are all cellular and every cell has a place for the various things meant for it. All we once were we can have again.

Erik Donald France said...

Thanks, Dudes ~ ! Cheers ~ ~ >