Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A Reading of Proust: Take III

Wallace Fowlie (1908-1998), A Reading of Proust (London: Dennis Dobson, 1967; originally published in 1964).

Let's bring this show to a close, for now, with a few more observations:

"No one knows exactly what anyone else is thinking or plotting. Every one knows only partially, or suspects, or believes he [or she] knows. Such approximations of knowledge and ignorance account for the human comedy and . . . tragedy. These two terms have to be used simultaneously, because in Proust comedy is always tragic." (p. 128).

"According to Proust's canon, only the artist, when functioning as artist, is fully conscious." (p. 147).

"A work of art is the life of the artist. Marcel has just made the momentous discovery that a record of this life resides in the deepest part of himself . . . And he is the only one able to read this book, or to decipher it." (p. 262)

"The milieu, the world described by the novelist, is not important. What is important is the reflective power of the novelist, his [or her] ultimate value as a mirror." (p. 265). 

I think what he means by this is that choice of setting, world, genre, etc., can be anything, if it's done well. Whatever works. 

Finally: "An individual life is so bound up with the lives of the men [and women] of his [or her] time, and with the very existence of the world, that there is no end to his [or her] mystery, no clue to his [or her] absolute reality. Analogy is the only principle by which we begin to understand the mystery of human life." (p. 268). 

Today's Rune: Harvest. 


Charles Gramlich said...

Not sure I agree with the idea that only the artist when functioning as an artist is truly conscious. I do believe that most people are essentially unconscious most of the time. Have to give it some thought.

Erik Donald France said...

Yes, it's hyperbolic giving all credit only to artists, but I get the basic point. Tennessee Williams: Attention must be paid.