La Bruyère, Jean de (1645-1696)

French moralist, who is 1684 was appointed tutor to Duke Louis de Bourbon, grandson of the great Condé. He is famous for one book, Les Caractères, consisting largely of general maxims and aphorisms similar to those of La Rochefoucauld and devoted primarily to aspects of contemporary society. His famous portraits of individuals, belonging to various social groups, include courtiers.

M. de Charlus extolled the true "nobility" of mind and heart which characterized these women, playing upon the word in a double sense by which he himself was taken in, and in which lay the falsehood of this bastard conception, of this medley of aristocracy, generosity and art, but also its seductiveness, dangerous to people like my grandmother, to whom the less refined but more innocent prejudice of a nobleman who cared only about quarterings and took no thought for anything besides would have appeared too silly for words, whereas she was defenseless as soon as a thing presented itself under the externals of an intellectual superiority, so much so, indeed, that she regarded princes as enviable above all other men because they were able to have a La Bruyère or a Fénelon as their tutors.
Within a Budding Grove 2: 461-62
M. de Charlus célébrait la véritable noblesse d'esprit et de cœur de ces femmes, jouant ainsi sur le mot par une équivoque qui le trompait lui-même et où résidait le mensonge de cette conception bâtarde, de cet ambigu d'aristocratie, de générosité et d'art, mais aussi sa séduction, dangereuse pour des êtres comme ma grand-mère à qui le préjugé plus grossier mais plus innocent d'un noble qui ne regarde qu'aux quartiers et ne se soucie pas du reste, eût semblé trop ridicule, mais qui était sans défense dès que quelque chose se présentait sous les dehors d'une supériorité spirituelle, au point qu'elle trouvait les princes enviables par-dessus tous les hommes parce qu'ils purent avoir un La Bruyère, un Fénelon comme précepteurs.
À l'ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs 2: 117
"Once Mme de Sévigné was with her daughter, she had probably nothing to say to her," put in Mme de Villeparisis.
"Most certainly she had: if it was only what she calls 'things so slight that nobody else would notice them but you and I.' And anyhow she was with her. And La Bruyère tells us that this is everything: 'To be with the people one loves, to speak to them, not to speak to them, it is all the same.' He is right: that is the only true happiness," added M. de Charlus in a mournful voice, "and alas, life is so ill arranged that one very rarely experiences it. Mme de Sévigné was after all less to be pitied than most of us. She spent a great part of her with the person whom she loved."
Within a Budding Grove 2: 468 (The sentiments expressed here are close to Proust's own idea of happiness: "To be near those I love. . .")
«Une fois près de sa fille Mme de Sévigné n'avait probablement rien à lui dire, répondit Mme de Villeparisis.
—Certainement si; fût-ce de ce qu'elle appelait "choses si légères qu'il n'y a que vous et moi qui les remarquions". Et en tous cas, elle était près d'elle. Et La Bruyère nous dit que c'est tout: "Etre près des gens qu'on aime, leur parler, ne leur parler point, tout est égal." Il a raison; c'est le seul bonheur, ajouta M. de Charlus d'une voix mélancolique; et ce bonheur-là, hélas, la vie est si mal arrangée qu'on le goûte bien rarement; Mme de Sévigné a été en somme moins à plaindre que d'autres. Elle a passé une grande partie de sa vie auprès de ce qu'elle aimait.
À l'ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs 2:121-22
I returned home, despairingly clutching my windfall of ten thousand francs, which would have enabled me to arrange so many pleasant surprises for that Gilberte whom I had made up my mind never to see again. No doubt my call at the dealer's had brought me happiness by allowing me to hope that in future, whenever I saw my beloved, she would be pleased with me and grateful. But if I had not been there, if the carriage had not taken the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, I should not have seen Gilberte with that young man. Thus a single action may have two contradictory effects, and the misfortune that it engenders cancel the good fortune it had brought one. What had happened to me was the opposite of what so frequently occurs. We desire some pleasure, and the material means of obtaining it are lacking "It is sad," La Bruyère tells us, "to love without an ample fortune." There is nothing for it but to try to eradicate little by little our desire for that pleasure. In my case, however, the material means had been forthcoming, but at the same moment, if not by a logical effect, at any rate as a fortuitous consequence of that initial success, my pleasure had been snatched from me. As, for that matter, it seems as though it must always be.
Within a Budding Grove 2: 273-74
Je rentrai, tenant avec désespoir les dix mille francs inespérés qui avaient dû me permettre de faire tant de petits plaisirs à cette Gilberte que, maintenant, j'étais décidé à ne plus revoir. Sans doute, cet arrêt chez le marchand de chinoiseries m'avait réjoui en me faisant espérer que je ne verrais plus jamais mon amie que contente de moi et reconnaissante. Mais si je n'avais pas fait cet arrêt, si la voiture n'avait pas pris par l'avenue des Champs-Élysées, je n'eusse pas rencontré Gilberte et ce jeune homme. Ainsi un même fait porte des rameaux opposites et le malheur qu'il engendre annule le bonheur qu'il avait causé. Il m'était arrivé le contraire de ce qui se produit si fréquemment. On désire une joie, et le moyen matériel de l'atteindre fait défaut. «Il est triste, a dit La Bruyère, d'aimer sans une grande fortune.» Il ne reste plus qu'à essayer d'anéantir peu à peu le désir de cette joie. Pour moi, au contraire, le moyen matériel avait été obtenu, mais, au même moment, sinon par un effet logique, du moins par une conséquence fortuite de cette réussite première, la joie avait été dérobée. Il semble, d'ailleurs, qu'elle doive nous l'être toujours.
À l'ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs 1: 613
(«Il est triste d'aimer sans une grande fortune, et qui nous donne les moyens de combler ce que l'on aime, et le rendre si heureux qu'il n'ait plus de souhaits à faire» La Bruyère, Caractères, chap. IV, «Du cœur», 20. —À l'ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs 1: 613, n. 2.)
"Yes, with Mme Octave—ah, a real saintly woman, I can tell you, and a house where there was always more than enough, and all of the very best—a good woman, and no mistake, who didn't spare the partridges, or the pheasants, or anything. You might turn up five to dinner or six, it was never the meat that was lacking, and of the first quality too, and white wine, and red wine, and everything you could wish." (Françoise used the word "spare" in the same sense as La Bruyère.)
The Guermantes Way 3: 24-25 (In its older usage, plaindre, which means to pity, also was used for regret. As used by Françoise and La Bruyère, the verb states that Mme Octave did not regret her lavish expenditures.)
—Oui, chez Mme Octave, ah! une bien sainte femme, mes pauvres enfants, et où il y avait toujours de quoi, et du beau et du bon, une bonne femme, vous pouvez dire, qui ne plaignait pas les perdreaux, ni les faisans, ni rien, que vous pouviez arriver dîner à cinq, à six, ce n'était pas la viande qui manquait et de première qualité encore, et vin blanc, et vin rouge, tout ce qu'il fallait. (Françoise employait le verbe "plaindre" dans le même sens que fait La Bruyère.)
Le Côté de Guermantes 2: 326 and n. 1.
The coarse pleasantries in which Brichot had indulged in the early days of his friendship with the baron had given place, as soon as it was a question not of uttering commonplaces but of trying to understand, to an awkward feeling which was cloaked by gaiety. He reassured himself by recalling pages of Plato, lines of Virgil, because, being mentally as well as physically blind, he did not understand that in their day to love a young man was the equivalent (Socrates's jokes reveal this more clearly than Plato's theories) of keeping a dancing girl before getting engaged to be married in ours. M. de Charlus himself would not have understood, he who confused his ruling passion with friendship, which does not resemble it in the least, and the athletes of Praxiteles with obliging boxers. He refused to see that for nineteen hundred years ("a pious courtier under a pious prince would have been an atheist under an atheist prince," as La Bruyère reminds us) all conventional homosexuality—that of Plato's young friends as well as that of Virgil's shepherds—has disappeared, that what survives and increases is only the involuntary, the neurotic kind, which one conceals from other people and misrepresents to oneself.
The Captive 5: 269-70
Les grosses plaisanteries de Brichot, au début de son amitié avec le baron, avaient fait place chez lui, dès qu'il s'était agi non plus de débiter des lieux communs mais de comprendre, à un sentiment pénible que voilait la gaieté. Il se rassurait en récitant des pages de Platon, des vers de Virgile, parce qu'aveugle d'esprit aussi, il ne comprenait pas qu'alors aimer un jeune homme était comme aujourd'hui (les plaisanteries de Socrate le révèlent mieux que les théories de Platon) entretenir une danseuse, puis se fiancer. M. de Charlus lui-même ne l'eut pas compris, lui qui confondait sa manie avec l'amitié, qui ne lui ressemble en rien, et les athlètes de Praxitèle avec de dociles boxeurs. Il ne voulait pas voir que depuis dix-neuf cents ans («un courtisan dévot sous un prince dévot eût été athée sous un prince athée», a dit La Bruyère), toute l'homosexualité de coutume—celle des jeunes gens de Platon comme des bergers de Virgile—a disparu, celle qu'on cache aux autres et qu'on travestit à soi-même.
La Prisonnière 3: 710 (Proust is quoting from memory. La Bruyère wrote: «Un dévot est celui qui sous un roi athée, serait athée». —La Prisonnière 3: 710, n. 3).

Lacretelle, Jacques de (1888-1985), French novelist

In 1918, Lacretelle, with all the determination of a passionate bibliophile, had managed to procure one of the five copies of Swann's Way printed on Japan Imperial paper. Lacretelle sent the rare copy to Proust, asking him to autograph it. Proust, claiming to be poorly informed about what pleased bibliophiles, asked Lacretelle for advice. Would his young friend like him to write out certain pages from Swann's Way or excerpts from an unpublished volume? Or put in the margin of this copy rare notes indicating the few keys to characters in the Search? Or would he like some proof sheets to have bound in the book? In the postscript Proust asked for the "great pleasure of reimbursing" Lacretelle for the book. Thus he would have the illusion of having given him the rare copy. Lacretelle asked Proust to reveal some keys and these were duly provided in a dedication, dated April 20, 1918, that he wrote in Lacretelle's copy of Du côté de chez Swann. Addressing Lacretelle as "Dear friend," Proust began by saying that there were "no keys to the characters in this book; or rather, there are eight or ten to a single one; equally, for the church at Combray, my memory borrowed several churches (or had them pose) as 'models'. I can no longer tell you which ones. I don't even remember if the paving is from Saint-Pierre-sur-Dives or Lisieux. Certain stained-glass windows are undoubtedly from Evreux, others from the Sainte-Chapelle and some Pont-Audemer." Regarding Vinteuil's sonata, Proust said that his recollections were more precise. "To the extent that I drew on reality, actually, a very limited extent, the little phrase from this Sonata, and I've never told anyone this before, is, at the Saint-Euverte soirée (to begin at the end), the charming but mediocre theme from a Violin and Piano Sonata by Saint-Saëns, a composer I dislike. (I'll show you the precise passage, which recurs several times and was a triumph for Jacques Thibaud.)" Proust listed other works that he "wouldn't be surprised" if they had contributed to the music, such as Wagner's "Good Friday Spell," from Parsifal, and later at the Sainte-Euverte soirée "when piano and violin lament like two birds calling to one another, I was thinking of Franck's Sonata, especially as played by Enesco (Franck's Quartet appears in later volumes). The tremolo passages played over the little phrase at the Verdurins' were suggested by the Prelude to Lohengrin, but the phrase itself at that moment by a piece by Schubert. At the same Verdurin soirée, it becomes a ravishing piano piece by Fauré."

Selected Letters 4: 39; translation slightly modified.

Cher ami,
Il n'y a pas de clefs pour les personnages de ce livre: ou bien il y en a huit ou dix pour un seul; de même pour l'église de Combray, ma mémoire m'a prêté comme «modèles" (a fait poser), beaucoup d'églises. Je ne saurais plus vous dire lesquelles. Je ne me rappelle même plus si le pavage vient de Saint-Pierre-sur-Dives ou de Lisieux. Certains vitraux sont certainement les uns d'Évreux, les autres de la Sainte-Chapelle et de Pont Audemer. Mes souvenirs sont plus précis pour la Sonata. Dans la mesure où la réalité m'a servi, mesure très faible à vrai dire, la petite phrase de cette Sonate, et je ne l'ai jamais dit à personne, est (pour commencer par la fin), dans la Soirée Sainte-Euverte, la phrase charmante mais enfin médiocre d'une Sonate pour piano et violon de Saint-Saëns, musicien que je n'aime pas. (Je vous indiquerai exactement le passage qui vient plusieurs fois et qui était le triomphe de Jacques Thibaud). Dans la même soirée un peu plus loin, je ne serais pas surpris qu'en parlant de la petite phrase j'eusse pensé à l'Enchantement du Vendredi Saint. Dans cette même soirée encore (page 241) quand le piano et le violon gémissent comme deux oiseaux qui se répondent j'ai pensé à la Sonate de Franck surtout jouée par Enesco (dont le quatuor apparaît dans un des volumes suivants). Les trémolos qui couvrent la petite phrase chez les Verdurin m'ont été suggérés par un prélude de Lohengrin mais elle-même à ce moment-là par une chose de Schubert. Elle est dans la meme soirée Verdurin un ravissant morceau de piano de Fauré.
Corr. 17: 193-94 See notes 7-19. (Page 241, indicated by Proust, corresponds to 196 in Du côté de chez Swann).
...for Gilberte's arrival in the Champs-Élysées in the snow, I was thinking of somebody who, without her ever having known it, was the great love of my life (or the other great love of my life, for there have been two) Mlle Benardaky.... Naturally, the freer passages involving Gilberte at the beginning of À l'ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs have nothing whatever to do with the person in question, for I never had any but the most proper relations with her.
Selected Letters 4: 40
...j'ai pensé pour l'arrivée de Gilberte aux Champs-Élysées par la neige, à une personne qui a été le grand amour de ma vie sans qu'elle l'ait jamais su (ou l'autre grand amour de ma vie car il y en a au moins deux) Mlle Benardaky.... Mais bien entendu les passages plus libres relatifs à Gilberte au début de À l'ombre des Jeunes filles en fleurs ne s'appliquent nullement à cette personne car je n'ai jamais eu avec elle que les rapports les plus convenables.
Correspondance 17: 194

Proust made similar revelations in a brief letter to Antoine Bibesco, sent in the fall of 1915. In any case, Proust's closest friends had long known the origin of the little phrase. He first heard the prelude to Lohengrin on its one hundredth performance at the Opéra, May 7, 1894.

Dear Antoine,
Just a line to thank you with all my heart and tell you that the Vinteuil sonata is not Franck's." If you're interested (which I doubt!), I shall tell you, with a copy in my hand, all the works (some of them mediocre) which 'posed' for my sonata. Thus the 'little phrase' is a phrase from a sonata for piano and violin by Saint-Saëns which I'll hum to you (tremble!); the restless tremolos above it come from a Wagner prelude; the opening with its plangent rise and fall, is from the Franck sonata; the more spacious passages from Fauré's Ballade, etc., etc., etc. And people think that these things are written at random, 'off the cuff'."
Selected Letters 3: 322.
Cher Antoine,
Une seule ligne car je suis très souffrant pour te remercier de tout cœur et te dire que la Sonate de Vinteuil n'est pas celle de Franck. Si cela peut t'intéresser (mais je ne pense pas!) je te dirai l'exemplaire en mains, toutes les œuvres (parfois médiocres) qui ont «posé" [pour] ma Sonate. Ainsi la «petite phrase» est une phrase d'une Sonate [pour] piano et violon de Saint-Saëns que je te chanterai (tremble!) l'agitation des trémolos au-dessus d'elle est dans un Prélude de Wagner, son début gémissant et alterné est de la Sonate de Franck, ses mouvements espacés Ballade de Fauré etc. etc. etc. Et les gens croient que tout cela s'écrit au hasard, par «facilité».
Correspondance 14: 234-36


Laon Cathedral presents a unique feature. Built high on a hill, its twin towers, rising higher still and appearing to touch the sky, serve as the viewing platform for eight majestic oxen. The statues were placed on the towers because the townspeople had wanted to honor the brave beasts of burden for the years spent dragging the huge stones from the quarries far below to the top of the hill for the construction of the cathedral.

And, together with Mme de Guermantes, her dwelling was simultaneously transformed; itself also the offspring of that name, fertilized from year to year by some word or other that came to my ears and modified my reveries, that dwelling of hers mirrored them in its very stones, which had become reflectors, like the surface of a cloud or of a lake. A two-dimensional castle, no more indeed than a strip of orange light, from the summit of which the lord and his lady disposed of the lives and deaths of their vassals, had given place—right at the end of that "Guermantes way" along which, on so many summer afternoons, I followed with my parents the course of the Vivonne—to that land of bubbling streams where the Duchess taught me to fish for trout and to know the names of the flowers whose red and purple clusters adorned the walls of the neighboring gardens; then it had been the ancient heritage, the poetic domain from which the proud race of Guermantes, like a mellow crenellated tower that traverses the ages, had risen already over France, at a time when the sky was still empty at those points where later were to rise Notre-Dame of Paris and Notre-Dame of Chartres; a time when on the summit of the hill at Laon the nave of its cathedral had not yet been posed like the Art of the Deluge on the summit of Mount Ararat, crowded with Patriarchs and Judges anxiously leaning from its windows to see whether the wrath of God has yet subsided, carrying with it specimens of the plants that will multiply on the earth, brimming over with animals which have even climbed out through the towers, between which oxen grazing calmly on the roof look down on the plains of Champagne; when the traveler who left Beauvais at the close of day did not yet see, following him and turning with his road, the black, ribbed wings of the cathedral spread out against the golden screen of the western sky.
The Guermantes Way 3: 6-7
Et, en même temps que Mme de Guermantes, changeait sa demeure, issue elle aussi de ce nom que fécondait d'année en année telle ou telle parole entendue qui modifiait mes rêveries; cette demeure les reflétait dans ses pierres mêmes devenues réfléchissantes comme la surface d'un nuage ou d'un lac. Un donjon sans épaisseur qui n'était qu'une bande de lumière orangée et du haut duquel le seigneur et sa dame décidaient de la vie et de la mort de leurs vassaux avait fait place—tout au bout de ce «côté de Guermantes» où, par tant de beaux après-midi, je suivais avec mes parents le cours de la Vivonne—à cette terre torrentueuse où la duchesse m'apprenait à pêcher la truite et à connaître le nom des fleurs aux grappes violettes et rougeâtres qui décoraient les murs bas des enclos environnants; puis ç'avait été la terre héréditaire, le poétique domaine, où cette race altière de Guermantes, comme une tour jaunissante et fleuronnée qui traverse les âges, s'élevait déjà sur la France, alors que le ciel était encore vide là où devaient plus tard surgir Notre-Dame de Paris et Notre-Dame de Chartres; alors qu'au sommet de la colline de Laon la nef de la cathédrale ne s'était pas posée comme l'Arche du Déluge au sommet du mont Ararat, emplie de Patriarches et de Justes anxieusement penchés aux fenêtres pour voir si la colère de Dieu s'est apaisée, emportant avec elle les types des végétaux qui multiplieront sur la terre, débordante d'animaux qui s'échappent jusque par les tours où des bœufs, se promenant paisiblement sur la toiture, regardent de haut les plaines de Champagne; alors que le voyageur qui quittait Beauvais à la fin du jour ne voyait pas encore le suivre en tournoyant, dépliées sur l'écran d'or du couchant, les ailes noires et ramifiées de la cathédrale.
Le Côté de Guermantes 2: 313-14
Proust found Laon's architecture fascinating, as he later wrote to Mme Catusse, because it was there "better than in the rich subsequent efflorescence, that one can see the first burgeoning of the Gothic and how 'the marvelous flower slowly emerges'." Laon had been a center of medieval scholasticism, and Proust noted the "delightfully pedantic insistence on the liberal arts in its main portal and in the stained glass of its rose window." He described for Mme Catusse the representations of "Philosophy" with "the ladder (of learning) placed in front of her chest, Astronomy gazing at the heavens, Geometry with her compass, Arithmetic counting on her fingers, Dialectics with the wily snake." Although the architecture was "very splendid," he was somewhat disappointed in the representation of Medicine, which he found "rather banal, not as at Reims, where she is examining an invalid's urine."
Selected Letters 2: 167-68.

Proust later paid homage to the oxen at Laon when he wrote an article denouncing the Combes laws, which threatened to turn the churches into secular edifices.

See Contre Sainte-Beuve 5: 148. The quote about the "marvelous flower" of Gothic architecture slowly emerging in medieval France has not been identified.

During the war, Proust made a strategic decision regarding the geography of the Search: he moved Combray from its Beauce location near Chartres, where Illiers lies on the map, to the north of Paris, near Laon, in order to place the little village in the path of the advancing German army.

Once in the fields, we never left them again during the rest of our Méséglise walk. They were perpetually traversed, as though by an invisible wanderer, by the wind which was to me the tutelary genius of Combray. Every year, on the day of our arrival, in order to feel that I really was at Combray, I would climb the hill to greet it as it swept through the furrows and swept me along in its wake. One always had the wind for companion when one went the Méséglise way, on that gently undulating plain where for mile after mile it met no rising ground. I knew that Mlle Swann used often to go and spend a few days at Laon for all that it was many miles away, the distance was counterbalanced by the absence of any intervening obstacle, and when, on hot afternoons, I saw a breath of wind emerge from the furthest horizon, bowing the heads of the corn in distant fields, pouring like a flood over all that vast expanse, and finally come to rest, warm and rustling, among the clover and sainfoin at my feet, that plain which was common to us both seemed then to draw us together, to unite us; I would imagine that the same breath of wind had passed close to her, that it was some message from her that it was whispering to me, without my being able to understand it, and I would kiss it as it passed.
Swann's Way 1: 204-05
Une fois dans les champs, on ne les quittait plus pendant tout le reste de la promenade qu'on faisait du côté de Méséglise. Ils étaient perpétuellement parcourus, comme par un chemineau invisible, par le vent qui était pour moi le génie particulier de Combray. Chaque année, le jour de notre arrivée, pour sentir que j'étais bien à Combray, je montais le retrouver qui courait dans les sayons et me faisait courir à sa suite. On avait toujours le vent à côté de soi du côté de Méséglise, sur cette plaine bombée où pendant des lieues il ne rencontre aucun accident de terrain. Je savais que Mlle Swann allait souvent à Laon passer quelques jours et, bien que ce fût à plusieurs lieues, la distance se trouvant compensée par l'absence de tout obstacle, quand, par les chauds après-midi, je voyais un même souffle, venu de l'extrême horizon, abaisser les blés les plus éloignés, se propager comme un flot sur toute l'immense étendue et venir se coucher, murmurant et tiède, parmi les sainfoins et les trèfles, à mes pieds, cette plaine qui nous était commune à tous deux semblait nous rapprocher, nous unir, je pensais que ce souffle avait passé auprès d'elle, que c'était quelque message d'elle qu'il me chuchotait sans que je pusse le comprendre, et je l'embrassais au passage.
Du côté de chez Swann 1: 143-44

Gilberte Swann, who by the time of the war is married to Saint-Loup, flees Paris because of the "constant Taube raids on the city," making her fear for her little daughter's safety. She arrives at Tansonville, Swann's country estate, only two days before the Germans arrive. For more than eight months the French and the Germans, in the battle of Méséglise, fight over Combray and its environs. Gilberte describes in a letter to the Narrator how his beloved hawthorn path that rises up a slope has become an important military objective. "The huge field of corn upon which it emerges is the famous Hill 307.... The French blew up the little bridge over the Vivonne...and the Germans have thrown other bridges across the river. For a year and a half they held one half of Combray and the French the other." The Narrator's childhood paradise is annihilated by the opposing armies.

See Time Regained 6: 88-89, 95-96.

Larivière, Marcelle (?-1920), niece of Céleste Albaret's husband Odilon

As he completed Within a Budding Grove and other episodes of the Albertine cycle, Proust called on younger friends to provide details about the lives of adolescent girls. He consulted Céleste's niece Marcelle Larivière, about two high school French compositions he intended to assign to Gisèle. He had selected as topics for the compositions works by his mother's and grandmother's favorite seventeenth-century writers: Racine, Mme de Sévigné, and Mme de La Fayette. Marcelle, as bright as she was diligent, provided excellent summaries, for which Proust thanked her, finding them to be "quite perfect."

See Selected Letters, 1910-1917, 3: 334

In another passage, Proust pays homage to the Larivière family, representative of all that is the best in the French character:

In this book in which there is not a single incident which is not fictitious, not a single character who is a real person in disguise, in which everything has been invented by me in accordance with the requirements of my theme, I owe it to the credit of my country to say that only the millionaire cousins of Françoise who came out of retirement to help their niece when she was left without support, only they are real people who exist. And persuaded as I am that I shall not offend their modesty, for the reason that they will never read this book, it is both with childish pleasure and with a profound emotion that, being unable to record the names of so many others who undoubtedly acted in the same way, to all of whom France owes her survival, I transcribe here the real name of this family: they are called—and what name could be more French?—Larivière. If there were a few vile shirkers like the arrogant young man in a dinner-jacket whom I had seen at Jupien's establishment, whose only concern was to know whether he could have Léon at half past ten "as he had a luncheon engagement," they are redeemed by the innumerable throng of all the Frenchmen of Saint-André-des-Champs, by all the sublime soldiers and by those whom I rank as their equals, the Larivières.
Time Regained 6: 226-27
Dans ce livre où il n'y a pas un seul fait qui ne soit fictif, où il n'y a pas un seul personnage «à clefs», où tout a été inventé par moi selon les besoins de ma démonstration, je dois dire à la louange de mon pays que seuls les parents millionnaires de Françoise ayant quitté leur retraite pour aider leur nièce sans appui, que seuls ceux-là sont des gens réels, qui existent. Et persuadé que leur modestie ne s'en offensera pas, pour la raison qu'ils ne liront jamais ce livre, c'est avec un enfantin plaisir et une profonde émotion que, ne pouvant citer les noms de tant d'autres qui durent agir de même et par qui la France a survécu, je transcris ici leur nom véritable: ils s'appellent, d'un nom si français d'ailleurs, Larivière. S'il y a eu quelques vilains embusqués comme l'impérieux jeune homme en smoking que j'avais vu chez Jupien et dont la seule préoccupation était de savoir s'il pourrait avoir Léon à 10 heures et demie «parce qu'il déjeunait en ville», ils sont rachetés par la foule innombrable de tous les Français de Saint-André-des-Champs, par tous les soldats sublimes auxquels j'égale les Larivière.
Le Temps retrouvé 4: 424 Françoise's cousins, their generosity; seul nom de gens réels donné dans ce livre: —Le Temps retrouvé 4: 424-25 (untrue, not that it matters).

In addition to a number of historical figures, who are mentioned or quoted, one finds some of Proust's acquaintances, including Sarah Bernhardt, Henri Bergson, Count Bertrand de Fénelon, and Anna de Noailles, to name only a few. The one person to whom he does pay an extended homage is his housekeeper Céleste Albaret. His parody of her speech is a fine example of Proustian layering in that she also mocks his—and the Narrator's—gestures, habits, and fussiness about food.

See Sodom and Gomorrah 4: 331-37, 448, 716; The Captive 5: 12-13, 176.

Such people as those praised here represent the ideal—regardless of class or social standing—expressed by the grandmother and said first about the tailor Jupien and his niece, whom she met when calling on her friend the Marquise de Villeparisis. The grandmother believes that the niece is Jupien's daughter:

My grandmother had returned from the call full of praise for the house which overlooked some gardens, and in which Mme de Villeparisis had advised her to rent a flat, and also for a repairing tailor and his daughter who kept a little shop in the courtyard, into which she had gone to ask them to put a stitch in her skirt, which she had torn on the staircase. My grandmother had found these people perfectly charming: the girl, she said, was a jewel, and the tailor the best and most distinguished man she had ever seen. For in her eyes distinction was a thing wholly independent of social position. She was in ecstasies over some answer the tailor had made to her, saying to Mamma: "Sévigné would not have put it better!" and, by way of contrast, of a nephew of Mme de Villeparisis whom she had met at the house:
"My dear, he is so common!"
Swann's Way 1: 25
Ma grand-mère était revenue de sa visite enthousiasmée par la maison qui donnait sur des jardins et où Mme de Villeparisis lui conseillait de louer, et aussi par un giletier et sa fille, qui avaient leur boutique dans la cour et chez qui elle était entrée demander qu'on fît un point à sa jupe qu'elle avait déchirée dans l'escalier. Ma grand-mère trouvait ces gens parfaits, elle déclarait que la petite était une perle et que le giletier était l'homme le plus distingué, le mieux qu'elle eût jamais vu. Car pour elle, la distinction était quelque chose d'absolument indépendant du rang social. Elle s'extasiait sur une réponse que le giletier lui avait faite, disant à maman: «Sévigné n'aurait pas mieux dit!» et en revanche, d'un neveu de Mme de Villeparisis qu'elle avait rencontré chez elle:
«Ah! ma fille, comme il est commun!»
Du côté de chez Swann 1: 20

Proust chose the statuary of the medieval church of Saint-André-des-Champs to represent what he saw as the finest qualities of his countrymen, qualities one finds in generation after generation:

I looked at Saint-Loup, and I said to myself that it is a thing to be glad of when there is no lack of physical grace to serve as vestibule to the graces within, and when the curves of the nostrils are as delicate and as perfectly designed as the wings of the little butterflies that hover over the field-flowers around Combray; and that the true opus francigenum, the secret of which was not lost in the thirteenth century, and would not perish with our churches, consists not so much in the stone angels of Saint-André-des-Champs as in the young Frenchmen, noble, bourgeois or peasant, whose faces are carved with that delicacy and boldness which have remained as traditional as on famous porch, but are creative still.
The Guermantes Way 3: 560-61 (Translation modified).
Je regardais Saint-Loup, et je me disais que c'est une jolie chose quand il n'y a pas de disgrâce physique pour servir de vestibule aux grâces intérieures, et que les ailes du nez sont délicates et d'un dessin parfait comme ces petits papillons qui se posent sur les fleurs des prairies, autour de Combray; et que le véritable opus francigenum, dont le secret n'a pas été perdu depuis le XIIIe siècle, et qui ne périrait pas avec nos églises, ce ne sont pas tant les anges de pierre de Saint-André-des-Champs que les petits Français, nobles, bourgeois ou paysans, au visage sculpté avec cette délicatesse et cette franchise restées aussi traditionnelles qu'au porche fameux, mais encore créatrices.
Le Côté de Guermantes 2: 703

See opus francigenum.

La Rochefoucauld, François VI, duc de (1613-1680)

Author of the famous Maximes, who in the Search, is said to be an ancestor of the Guermantes's.

"I was just showing this gentleman a fine portrait of the Duchesse de La Rochefoucauld, the wife of the author of the Maxims; it's a family heirloom."
The Guermantes Way 3: 268
«Je montrais à monsieur le beau portrait de la duchesse de La Rochefoucauld, femme de l'auteur des Maximes, il me vient de famille.»
Le Côté de Guermantes 2: 498
"And notwithstanding the instances I've borrowed from the seventeenth century, if my great ancestor François de La Rochefoucauld were alive today, he might say of it with even more justification than of his own—come, Brichot, help me out: "Vices are common to every age; but if certain persons whom everyone knows had appeared in the first centuries of our era, would anyone speak today of the prostitutions of Heliogabalus?' 'Whom everyone knows' appeals to me immensely."
The Captive 5: 407-08
«Et malgré les exemples que j'empruntais au XVIIe siècle, si mon grand aïeul François de La Rochefoucauld vivait de notre temps, il pourrait en dire avec plus de raison encore que du sien, voyons, Brichot, aidez-moi: "Les vices sont de tous les temps; mais si des personnes que tout le monde connaît avaient paru dans les premiers siècle, parlerait-on présentement des prostitutions d'Héliogabale?" Que tout le mon connaît me plaît beaucoup.»
La Prisonnière 3: 808

Proust is quoting from memory and, as is usually the case, his memory serves him well. Here is the complete quotation: «Les vices sont de tous les temps; les hommes sont nés avec de l'intérêt, de la cruauté et de la débauche; mais si des personnes que tout le monde connaît avaient paru dans les premiers siècles, parlerait-on présentement des prostitutions d'Héliogabale, de la foi des Grecs, et des poisons et des parricides de Médée?» Héliogabale was emperor of Rome from 218 to 222; he was devoted to the cult of the Sun; his reign was one of superstition and debauchery.

La Prisonnière 3: 808, n. 4 and Vogely: A Proust Dictionary

Loti, Pierre, pseudonym of Julien Viaud (1850-1923), French novelist

"She really is astonishing, the little Duchess," said M. d'Argencourt, pointing to Mme de Guermantes who was talking to G. "Whenever there's a prominent person in the room you're sure to find him sitting with her. Evidently that must be the lion of the party over there. It can't be M. de Borelli everyday, or M. Schlumberger or M. d'Avenel. But then it's bound to be M. Pierre Loti or M. Edmond Rostand. Yesterday evening at the Doudeauvilles', where by the way she was looking splendid in her emerald tiara and a pink dress with a long train, she had M. Deschanel on one side and the German Ambassador on the other; she was holding forth to them about China. The general public, at a respectful distance where they couldn't hear what was being said, were wondering whether there wasn't going to be war. Really, you'd have said she was a queen holding her circle."
Le Côté de Guermantes 2: 510
«Elle est vraiment étonnante la petite duchesse», dit M. d'Argencourt en montrant Mme de Guermantes qui causait avec G. «Dès qu'il y a un homme en vue dans un salon, il est toujours à côté d'elle. Évidemment cela ne peut être que le grand pontife qui se trouve là. Cela ne peut pas être tous les jours M. de Borelli, Schlumberger ou d'Avenel. Mais alors ce sera M. Pierre Loti ou M. Edmond Rostand. Hier soir, chez les Doudeauville, où, entre parenthèses, elle était splendide sous son diadème d'émeraudes, dans une grande robe rose à queue, elle avait d'un côté d'elle M. Deschanel, de l'autre l'ambassadeur d'Allemagne: elle leur tenait tête sur la Chine; le gros public, à distance respectueuse, et qui n'entendait pas ce qu'ils disaient, se demandait s'il n'y allait pas y avoir la guerre. Vraiment on aurait dit une reine qui tenait le cercle.»
Le Côté de Guermantes 2: 510

By the age of nineteen, Reynaldo Hahn had written his first opera, l'Ile du rêve, based on Pierre Loti's Mariage de Loti. Pierre Loti, whom Proust had met in a Paris salon, sent a polite thank-you note for the inscribed copy of Les Plaisirs et les Jours, but did not even bother to cut the pages.

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