Jammes, Francis (1868-1938)

French writer and poet, whose first important collection was published in 1898, wrote about animals, nature and everyday things.

A Proust Dictionary by Maxine Arnold Vogely

In a letter to Proust, Francis Jammes praised Swann's Way in terms that would delight any author. The novelist often quoted the poet's appraisal: "Jammes . . . says I am the equal of Shakespeare and Balzac (!!)" See Correspondance 12: 367. Jammes had praised Proust's logic and his sentences "in the manner of Tacitus, showing great skill, subtle, well-balanced" . . . and compared Proust to "Shakespeare, Cervantes, La Bruyère, Molière, Balzac, and Paul de Kocq." It was true that the last name on the list diminished the effect because the popular, often risqué, de Kocq seemed decidedly inferior to the exalted company in which Jammes had placed him.

In the "Intermittencies of the Heart" section of Sodom and Gomorrah, Proust uses Jammes's name in a passage about the often absurd nature of dreams. In the dream, the grieving Narrator, just prior to awakening, has asked his father for the deceased grandmother's address so that he can find her again:

"But you know quite well that I shall always live close to her, stags, stags, Francis Jammes, fork." But already I had retraced the dark meanderings of the stream [Lethe], had ascended to the surface where the world of the living opens, so that if I still repeated: "Francis Jammes, stags, stags," the sequence of these words no longer offered me the limpid meaning and logic which they had expressed so naturally for me only a moment before, and which I could not now recall.
Sodom and Gomorrah 4: 218-19
«Tu sais bien pourtant que je vivrai toujours près d'elle, cerfs, cerfs, Francis Jammes, fourchette.» Mais déjà j'avais retraversé le fleuve aux ténébreux méandres, j'étais remonté à la surface où s'ouvre le monde des vivants; aussi si je répétais encore: «Francis Jammes cerfs, cerfs», la suite de ces mots ne m'offrait plus le sens limpide et la logique qu'ils exprimaient si naturellement pour moi il y a un instant encore et que je ne pouvais plus me rappeler.
Sodome et Gomorrhe 3: 159


Roman God, "the god of good beginnings." His chief temple in Rome ran east and west, where the day begins and ends; it had two doors between which stood a statue of Janus with two faces—one young, one old. —A Proust Dictionary by Maxine Arnold Vogely

Every person we love, indeed to a certain extent every person, is to us like Janus, presenting to us a face that pleases us if the person leaves us, a dreary face if we know him or her to be at our perpetual disposal. In the case of Albertine, the prospect of her continued society was painful to me in another way which I cannot explain in this narrative. It is terrible to have the life of another person attached to one's own like a bomb which one holds in one's hands, unable to get rid of it without committing a crime.
The Captive 5: 235-36
Tout être aimé, même dans une certaine mesure tout être, est pour nous comme Janus, nous présentant le front qui nous plaît, si cet être nous quitte, le front morne, si nous le savons à notre perpétuelle disposition. Pour Albertine, la société durable avec elle avait quelque chose de pénible d'une autre façon que je ne peux dire en ce récit. C'est terrible d'avoir la vie d'une autre personne attachée à la sienne comme une bombe qu'on tiendrait sans qu'on puisse la lâcher sans crime.
La Prisonnière 3: 686

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