Maeterlinck, Maurice (1862-1949)

See "Proust in the News" (théâtrophone and Pelléas et Mélisande)

Majestic Hotel

A luxury hotel built around 1907 at 19, avenue Kléber in the 16th arrondissement. According to Baedeker 1914, the hotel had 400 rooms, 300 of which, had bathrooms. (Le Temps retrouvé 4: 312, n. 3.) During the war, the Verdurins transfer their salon to this hotel.

...the Verdurin "salon," if it continued to exist in spirit and in all essentials, had been temporarily transferred to one of the largest hotels in Paris, the lack of coal and light making it too difficult for the Verdurins to entertain in the former mansion of the Venetian ambassadors, which was extremely damp. But the new drawing-room was not altogether disagreeable. Just as in Venice, the restrictions that water imposes upon a site dictate the shape of a palace, and in Paris a scrap of garden is more ravishing than a whole park in the country, so the narrow dining-room that Mme Verdurin had in the hotel, with the dazzling white walls of its irregular quadrilateral, made a sort of screen upon which figured every Wednesday, indeed almost every day of the week, all the most interesting men of every kind, all the smartest women in Paris, only too delighted to avail themselves of the luxury of the Verdurins, which went on increasing, with their wealth, at a time when other very rich people were economising, because part of their income was frozen. In their altered form the receptions had not ceased to enchant Brichot, who, as the circle of the Verdurins' acquaintance grew wider and wider, found in their parties ever new pleasures, packed tight together in a tiny space like surprises in a Christmas stocking. On some day the guests were so numerous that the dining-room of the private suite was too small and the dinner was given in the huge dining-room downstairs, where the faithful, if they feigned a hypocritical regret for the intimacy of upstairs, were at heart delighted—while keeping themselves to themselves, as in the old days on the little train—to be a spectacle and an object of envy for neighbouring tables. Doubtless, under normal peacetime conditions, a "society" note surreptitiously sent to Le Figaro or Le Gaulois would have informed a larger public than could be contained in the dining-room of the Majectic that Brichot had dined with the Duchesse de Duras. But since the war, the social reporters having suppressed this type of news (they made up for it, however, in funerals, "mentions in dispatches" and Franco-American banquets), publicity could only be obtained through a more embryonic, a more restricted medium, worthy of primitive ages and anterior to the discovery of Gutenberg: one had actually to be seen at Mme Verdurin's table. After dinner the guests went upstairs to the Mistress's reception rooms, and then the telephoning began. But many large hotels were at this period peopled with spies, who duly noted the news announced over the telephone by Bontemps with an indiscretion which might have had serious consequences but for a fortunate lack of accuracy in his reports, which were invariably contradicted by events.
Timed Regained 6: 62-63
...le «salon» Verdurin, s'il continuait en esprit et en vérité, s'était transporté momentanément dans un des plus grands hôtels de Paris, le manque de charbon et de lumière rendant plus difficiles les réceptions des Verdurin dans l'ancien logis, fort humide, des ambassadeurs de Venise. Le nouveau salon ne manquait pas, du reste, d'agrément. Comme à Venise la place, comptée à cause de l'eau, commande la forme des palais, comme un bout de jardin dans Paris ravit plus qu'un parc en province, l'étroite salle à manger qu'avait Mme Verdurin à l'hôtel faisait d'une sorte de losange aux murs éclatants de blancheur comme un écran sur lequel se détachaient à chaque mercredi, et presque tous les jours, tous les gens les plus intéressants, les plus variés, les femmes les plus élégantes de Paris, ravis de profiter du luxe des Verdurin, qui avec leur fortune allait croissant à une époque à une époque où les plus riches se restreignaient faute de toucher leurs revenus. La forme donnée aux réceptions se trouvait modifiée sans qu'elles cessassent d'enchanter Brichot, qui au fur et à mesure que les relations des Verdurin allaient s'étendant y trouvait des plaisirs nouveaux et accumulés dans un petit espace comme des surprises dans un chausson de Noël. Enfin certains jours les dîneurs étaient si nombreux que la salle à manger de l'appartement privé était trop petit, on donnait le dîner dans la salle à manger immense d'en bas, où les fidèles, tout en feignant hypocritement de déplorer l'intimité d'en haut, comme jadis la nécessité d'inviter les Cambremer faisait dire à Mme Verdurin qu'on serait trop serré, étaient ravis au fond—tout en faisant bande à part, comme jadis dans le petit chemin de fer—d'être un objet de spectacle et d'envie pour les tables voisines. Sans doute, dans les temps habituels de la paix, une note mondaine subrepticement envoyée au Figaro ou au Gaulois aurait fait savoir à plus de monde que n'en pouvait tenir la salle à manger du Majestic que Brichot avait dîné avec la duchesse de Duras. Mais depuis la guerre, les courriéristes mondains ayant supprimé ce genre d'informations (s'ils se rattrapaient sur les enterrements, les citations et les banquets franco-américains), la publicité ne pouvait plus exister que par ce moyen enfantin et restreint, digne des premiers âges, et antérieur à la découverte de Gutenberg: être vu à la table de Mme Verdurin. Après le dîner on montait dans les salons de la Patronne, puis les téléphonages commençaient. Mais beaucoup de grands hôtels étaient à cette époque peuplés d'espions qui notaient les nouvelles téléphonées par Bontemps avec une indiscrétion que corrigeait seulement, par bonheur, le manque de sûreté de ses informations, toujours démenties par l'événement.
Le Temps retrouvé 4: 311-12

Manet Ultima Caelo

Latin phrase, which was the motto of Henri III = La fin appartient au ciel. = The end belongs to Heaven.

Sodome et Gomorrhe 3: 453


A spa town (Mariánské Lázn?), founded in 1818, in the Czech Republic.

When Proust died, he had only revised part of The Captive, leaving the final three volumes incomplete, in that sense. The second reference to Marienbad is a repetition, with some variation, of the first one in The Fugitive. What Robert de Saint-Loup and Legrandin have in common is that they are both closeted homosexuals:

Like those women who deliberately sacrifice their faces to the slimness of their figures and never stir from Marienbad, Legrandin had acquired the breezy air of a cavalry officer. He had taken up tennis at the age of fifty-five. In proportion as M. de Charlus had thickened and slowed down, Legrandin had become slimmer and brisker, the contrary effect of an identical cause. This velocity of movement had its psychological reasons as well. He was in the habit of frequenting certain low haunts where he did not wish to be seen going in or coming out: he would hurl himself into them.
The Fugitive 5: 904
Comme les femmes qui sacrifient résolument leur visage à la sveltesse de leur taille et ne quittent plus Marienbad, Legrandin avait pris l'aspect désinvolte d'un officier de cavalerie. Au fur et à mesure que Charlus s'était alourdi et alenti, Legrandin était devenu plus élancé et rapide, effet contraire d'une même cause. Cette vélocité avait d'ailleurs des raisons psychologiques. Il avait l'habitude d'aller dans certains mauvais lieux où il aimait qu'on ne le vît ni entrer, ni sortir, il s'y engouffrait.
Albertine disparue 4: 244
Gradually, just as M. de Charlus had grown heavier, Robert (it is true that he was very much younger, but one felt that with age he would only get nearer and nearer to this ideal), had like those women who resolutely sacrifice their faces to their figures and after a certain moment never stir from Marienbad (they realise that they cannot preserve more than one kind of youth and think that a youthful figure will serve best to represent youth in general), became slimmer and taken to moving more rapidly, a contrary effect of an identical vice.
Time Regained 6: 12
Au fur et à mesure que M. de Charlus s'était alourdi, Robert (et sans doute il était infiniment plus jeune mais on sentait qu'il ne ferait que se rapprocher davantage de cet idéal avec l'âge, comme certaines femmes qui sacrifient résolument leur visage à leur taille et à partir d'un certain moment ne quittent plus Marienbad, pensant que, ne pouvant garder à la fois plusieurs jeunesses, c'est encore celle de la tournure qui sera le plus capable de représenter les autres) était devenu plus élancé, plus rapide, effet contraire d'un même vice.
Le Temps retrouvé 4: 276


See Quotable Proust: M.


Proust often uses the weather and time of day as a way to open or close sections of his vast novel. "A change in the weather is sufficient to create the world and ourselves anew." (The Guermantes Way 3: 472) One of Proust's favorite lines from Baudelaire was "Rien ne me vaut le soleil rayonnant sur la mer" (I love nothing more than the sun shining on the sea), a line that links sunlight with la joie de vivre. This device of using time and weather to modulate mood and emotions is a primary way for Proust to orchestrate his writing and, when the sun is shining, is directly linked to music in the opening paragraph of The Captive, where, as in the beginning of the novel, the Narrator lies in bed:

At daybreak, my face still turned to the wall, and before I had seen above the big window-curtains what shade of color the first streaks of light assumed, I could already tell what the weather was like. The first sounds from the street had told me, according to whether they came to ears deadened and distorted by the moisture of the atmosphere or quivering like arrows in the resonant, empty expanses of a spacious, frosty, pure morning; as soon as I heard the rumble of the first tramcar, I could tell whether it was sodden with rain or setting forth into the blue. And perhaps those sounds had themselves been forestalled by some swifter and more pervasive emanation which, stealing into my sleep, diffused in it a melancholy that announced snow or else (through a certain intermittent little person) burst into so many hymns to the glory of the sun that, having first of all begun to smile in my sleep, having prepared my eyes, behind their shut lids, to be dazzled, I would awake finally to clarion peals of music.
The Captive 5: 1
Dès le matin, la tête encore tournée contre le mur et avant d'avoir vu, au-dessus des grands rideaux de la fenêtre, de quelle nuance était la raie du jour, je savais déjà le temps qu'il faisait. Les premiers bruits de la rue me l'avaient appris, selon qu'ils me parvenaient amortis et déviés par l'humidité ou vibrants comme des flèches dans l'aire résonnante et vide d'un matin spacieux, glacial et pur; dès le roulement du premier tramway, j'avais entendu s'il était morfondu dans la pluie ou en partance pour l'azur. Et peut-être ces bruits avaient-ils été dévancés par quelque émanation plus rapide et plus pénétrante qui, glissée au travers de mon sommeil, y répandait une tristesse annonciatrice de la neige, ou y faisait entonner, à certain petit personnage intermittent, de si nombreux cantiques à la gloire du soleil que ceux-ci finissaient par amener pour moi, qui encore endormi commençais à sourire et dont les paupières closes se préparaient à être éblouies, un étourdissant réveil en musique.
La Prisonnière 3: 519

In an earlier draft for this passage, Proust refers to the myth of Memnon:

And already touched by this ray of the morning sun, I jumped from the bed, I did a thousand little dances and ecstatic movements that I watch in the mirror, I say with joy words that in themselves lack felicity, and I sing, for the poet is like the statue of Memnon. A ray of light from the rising sun is enough to make him sing.
Et déjà touché par ce rayon de soleil matinal, j'ai sauté à bas du lit, j'ai fait mille danses et gesticulations heureuses que je constate dans la glace, je dis avec joie des mots qui n'ont rien d'heureux, et je chante, car le poète est comme la statue de Memnon. Il suffit d'un rayon de soleil levant pour le faire chanter.
La Prisonnière 3: 1096

In her invaluable book Mythology, Edith Hamilton writes that "Prince Memnon of Ethiopia, the son of the Goddess of the Dawn," came with a large army to Troy, where he was killed fighting for the Trojans. A great statue was erected to Memnon "in Egypt at Thebes, and it was said that when the first rays of the dawn fell upon it a sound came from it like the twanging of a string."

Meurice, Hotel

During Proust's day, one of the best hotels in Paris and a favorite of English visitors. It is located at 228, rue de Rivoli, and is still a 5-Star luxury hotel.

The following conversation takes place when a Norwegian philosopher "who spoke French very well but very slowly, for the twofold reason that, in the first place, having learned the language only recently and not wishing to make mistakes (though he did make a few), he referred each word to a sort of mental dictionary, and secondly, being a metaphysician, he always thought of what he intended to say while he was saying it, which, even in a Frenchman, is a cause of slowness." This is another of the many humorous passages in the Search:

"My dear—colleague," he said to Brichot, after deliberating in his mind whether colleague was the correct term, "I have a sort of—desire to know whether there are other trees in the—nomenclature of your beautiful French—Latin—Norman tongue. Madame" (he meant Mme Verdurin, although he dared not look at her) "has told me that you know everything. Is not this precisely the moment?"
"No, it's the moment for eating," interrupted Mme Verdurin, who saw the dinner becoming interminable.
"Very well," the Scandinavian replied, bowing his head over his plate with a resigned and sorrowful smile. "But I must point out to Madame that if I have permitted myself this questionnaire—pardon me, this questation—it is because I have to return tomorrow to Paris to dine at the Tour d'Argent or at the Hôtel Meurice. My French—confrère—M. Boutroux is to address us there about certain séances of spiritualism—pardon me, certain spirituous evocations—which he has verified."
"The Tour d'Argent is not nearly as good as they make out," said Mme Verdurin sourly. "In fact, I've had some disgusting dinners there."
"But am I mistaken, is not the food that one consumes at Madame's table an example of the finest French cookery?"
"Well, it's not positively bad," replied Mme Verdurin, mollified. "And if you come next Wednesday, it will be better."
Sodom and Gomorrah 4: 447-48
«Mon cher—collègue», dit-il à Brichot, après avoir délibéré dans son esprit si «collègue» était le terme qui convenait, «j'ai une sorte de—désir pour savoir s'il y a d'autres arbres dans la—nomenclature de votre belle langue—française—latine—normande. Madame (il voulait dire Mme Verdurin quoiqu'il n'osât la regarder) m'a dit que vous saviez toutes choses. N'est-ce pas précisément le moment.
—Non, c'est le moment de manger», interrompit Mme Verdurin qui voyait que le dîner n'en finissait pas.
«Ah! bien», répondit le Scandinave baissant la tête dans son assiette, avec un sourire triste et résigné. «Mais je dois faire observer à madame que si je me suis permis ce questionnaire—pardon, ce questation—c'est que je dois retourner demain à Paris pour dîner chez la Tour d'Argent ou chez l'Hôtel Meurice. Mon confrère—français—M. Boutroux, doit nous y parler des séances de spiritisme—pardon, des évocations spiritueuses—qu'il a contrôlées.
—Ce n'est pas si bon qu'on dit, la Tour d'Argent, dit Mme Verdurin agacée. J'y ai même fait des dîners détestables.
—Mais est-ce que je me trompe, est-ce que la nourriture qu'on mange chez Madame n'est pas de la plus fine cuisine française?
—Mon Dieu, ce n'est pas positivement mauvais, répondit Mme Verdurin radoucie. Et si vous venez mercredi prochain ce sera meilleur.
Sodome et Gomorrhe 3: 322

Mistinguett (Jeanne Bourgeois) (1875-1956)

A very popular music-hall performer. In 1954, she published her memoirs, Toute ma vie. In Theatre Arts, December 1955, she is quoted as having said: "A kiss can be a comma, a question mark or an exclamation point. That's basic spelling that every woman ought to know."

In her later years, the duchesse de Guermantes, whose salon was the most exclusive in Paris, becomes more interested in literary and theatrical circles: a different appetite caused her to want to know the reasons behind this or that literary controversy, to want to meet the authors whose books she had read, to make friends with the actresses whom she had seen on the stage. Her tired mind required a new form of food, and in order to get to know theatrical and literary people she now made herself pleasant to women with whom formerly she would have refused to exchange cards....
Time Regained 6: 465
...maintenant un autre appétit lui faisait souhaiter savoir les raisons de telles polémiques littéraires, connaître les auteurs, voire les actrices. Son esprit fatigué réclamait une nouvelle alimentation. Elle se rapprocha, pour connaître les uns et les autres, des femmes avec qui jadis elle n'eût pas voulu échanger des cartes....
Le Temps retrouvé 4: 581
The Duchess still hesitated, for fear of a scene with M. de Guermantes, to make overtures to Balthy and Mistinguett, whom she found adorable, but with Rachel she was definitely on terms of friendship.
Time Regained 6: 447
La duchesse hésitait encore, par peur d'une scène de M. de Guermantes, devant Balthy et Mistinguett, qu'elle trouvait adorables, mais avait décidément Rachel pour amie.
Le Temps retrouvé 4: 571

Monceau, Parc

A Paris park in the 8th arrondissement where young Proust and his brother used to play. It is bordered on the western side by the rue de Courcelles, where Proust and his family lived at number 45 from 1900-1905. After the death of his parents, Proust moved, in 1906, to 102, boulevard Haussmann, where he wrote most of In Search of Lost Time. In the novel, the park is in Mme de Saint-Euverte's neighborhood.

The episode that concludes The Guermantes Way reveals the vain, shallow nature of the Duke and Duchess de Guermantes. Late for a grand dinner party at Mme de Saint-Euverte's that the Duchess and her husband pretend they must attend out of social duty, but which they would rather die than miss, the couple hurries to their carriage, accompanied by Charles Swann who had stopped by unannounced for a brief visit. When she invites Charles, her oldest and dearest friend, to accompany them to Italy the following spring, he declines. Swann resists answering her questions as to why he cannot come, but finally, after she insists, he admits that it is because he will be dead by then. He has an inoperable tumor. Swann urges Oriane to hurry on to the party, "because he knew that for other people their own social obligations took precedence over the death of a friend, and he put himself in their place thanks to his instinctive politeness. But that of the Duchess enabled her also to perceive in a vague way that the dinner-party to which she was going must count for less to Swann than his own death." Oriane is about to abandon, with much regret, the dinner party, but the duke insists that she come along. They must not arrive late. Just as she is getting into the carriage, he notices that she is wearing black shoes instead of red and orders her to go back and put on shoes that match her dress. When she argues that they'll be late, the duke replies:

"No, no, we have plenty of time. It's only 10 to; it won't take us ten minutes to get to the Parc Monceau." 
The Guermantes Way 3: 818
-Mais non, nous avons tout le temps. Il n'est que moins dix, nous ne mettrons pas dix minutes pour aller au parc Monceau.
Le Côté de Guermantes 2: 884

Not only is a dinner party more important than staying with a close friend who has just announced his impending death, but so are appearances. This scene, one of the most bitterly satirical in the novel, shows that Proust, far from being in thrall to high society, saw it for the vain and sterile world he knew it to be.

See Photo Gallery, where there is a photo of young Proust in the Parc Monceau.

Monceau, Rue De

In the 8th arrondissement, south of the Parc Monceau:

...a little slice of garden with a few trees, which would seem paltry in the country, acquires an extraordinary charm in the Avenue Gabriel or the Rue de Monceau, where only multi-millionaires can afford such a luxury....
Sodom and Gomorrah 4: 543
...un petit bout de jardin avec quelques arbres, qui paraîtrait mesquin à la campagne, prend un charme extraordinaire avenue Gabriel ou bien rue de Monceau, où des multimillionnaires seuls peuvent se l'offrir....
Sodome et Gomorrhe 3: 389


One of the most humorous passages in the novel is found in a scene where Proust caricatures the men who wear monocles at the marquise de Saint-Euverte's party. The monocle was in fashion from about 1830 until the end of the century. The point of view is Swann's:

Perhaps because he regarded General de Froberville and the Marquis de Bréauté, who were talking to each other just inside the door, simply as two figures in a picture, whereas they were the old and useful friends who had put him up for the Jockey Club and had supported him in duels, the General's monocle, stuck between his eyelids like a shell-splinter in his vulgar, scarred and overbearing face, in the middle of a forehead which it dominated like the single eye of the Cyclops, appeared to Swann as a monstrous wound which it might have been glorious to receive but which it was indecent to expose, while that which M. de Bréauté sported, as a festive badge, with his pearl-grey gloves, his crush hat and white tie, substituting it for the familiar pair of glasses (as Swann himself did) when he went to society functions, bore, glued to its other side, like a specimen prepared on a slide for the microscope, an infinitesimal gaze that swarmed with affability and never ceased to twinkle at the loftiness of the ceilings, the delightfulness of the entertainment, the interestingness of the programmes and the excellence of the refreshments.
"Hallo, you here! Why, it's ages since we've seen you," the General greeted Swann and, noticing his drawn features and concluding that it was perhaps a serious illness that had kept him away, added: "You're looking well, old man!" while M. de Bréauté exclaimed: "My dear fellow, what on earth are you doing here?" to a society novelist who had just fitted into the angle of eyebrow and cheek a monocle that was his sole instrument of psychological investigation and remorseless analysis, and who now replied with an air of mystery and self-importance, rolling the "r": "I am observing!"
The Marquis de Forestelle's monocle was minute and rimless, and, by enforcing an incessant and painful contraction of the eye in which it was embedded like a superfluous cartilage the presence of which is inexplicable and its substance unimaginable, gave to his face a melancholy refinement, and led women to suppose him capable of suffering greatly from the pangs of love. But that of M. de Saint-Candé, encircled, like Saturn, with an enormous ring, was the center of gravity of a face which adjusted itself constantly in relation to it, a face whose quivering red nose and swollen sarcastic lips endeavored by their grimaces to keep up with the running fire of wit that sparkled in the polished disc, and saw itself preferred to the most handsome looks in the world by snobbish and depraved young women whom it set dreaming of artificial charms and a refinement of sensual bliss. Meanwhile, behind him, M. de Palancy, who with his huge carp's head and goggling eyes moved slowly through the festive gathering, periodically unclenching his mandibles as though in search of his orientation, had the air of carrying about upon his person only an accidental and perhaps purely symbolical fragment of the glass wall of his aquarium, a part intended to suggest the whole, which recalled to Swann, a fervent admirer of Giotto's Vices and Virtues at Padua, that figure representing Injustice by whose side a leafy bough evokes the idea of the forests that enshroud his secret lair.
Swann's Way 1: 464-65
Peut-être parce qu'il ne regarda le général de Froberville et le marquis de Bréauté qui causaient dans l'entrée que comme deux personnages dans un tableau, alors qu'ils avaient été longtemps pour lui les amis utiles qui l'avaient présenté au Jockey et assisté dans des duels, le monocle du général, resté entre ses paupières comme un éclat d'obus dans sa figure vulgaire, balafrée et triomphale, au milieu du front qu'il éborgnait comme l'œil unique du cyclope, apparut à Swann comme une blessure monstrueuse qu'il pouvait être glorieux d'avoir reçue, mais qu'il était indécent d'exhiber; tandis que celui que M. de Bréauté ajoutait, en signe de festivité, aux gants gris perle, au «gibus», à la cravate blanche et substituait au binocle familier (comme faisait Swann lui-même) pour aller dans le monde, portait, collé à son revers, comme une préparation d'histoire naturelle sous un microscope, un regard infinitésimal et grouillant d'amabilité, qui ne cessait de sourire à la hauteur des plafonds, à la beauté des fêtes, à l'intérêt des programmes et à la qualité des rafraîchissements.
«Tiens, vous voilà, mais il y a des éternités qu'on ne vous a vu», dit à Swann le général qui, remarquant ses traits tirés et en concluant que c'était peut-être une maladie grave qui l'éloignait du monde, ajouta: «Vous avez bonne mine, vous savez!» pendant que M. de Bréauté demandait: «Comment, vous, mon cher, qu'est-ce que vous pouvez bien faire ici?» à un romancier mondain qui venait d'installer au coin de son œil un monocle, son seul organe d'investigation psychologique et d'impitoyable analyse, et répondit d'un air important et mystérieux, en roulant l'r: «J'observe.»
Le monocle du marquis de Forestelle était minuscule, n'avait aucune bordure et obligeait à une crispation incessante et douleurese l'œil où il s'inscrustait comme un cartilage superflu dont la présence est inexplicable et la matière recherchée, il donnait au visage du marquis une délicatesse mélancolique, et le faisait juger par les femmes comme capable de grands chagrins d'amour. Mais celui de M. de Saint-Candé, entouré d'un gigantesque anneau comme Saturne, était le centre de gravité d'une figure qui s'ordonnait à chaque moment par rapport à lui, dont le nez frémissant et rouge et la bouche lippue et sarcastique tâchaient par leurs grimaces d'être à la hauteur des feux roulants d'esprit dont étincelait le disque de verre, et se voyait préférer aux plus beaux regards du monde par des jeunes femmes snobs et dépravées qu'il faisait rêver de charmes artificiels et d'un raffinement de volupté; et cependant, derrière le sien, M. de Palancy qui, avec sa grosse tête de carpe aux yeux ronds se déplaçait lentement au mileu des fêtes, en desserrant d'instant en instant ses mandibules comme pour chercher son orientation, avait l'air de transporter seulement avec lui un fragment accidentel, et peut-être purement symbolique, du vitrage de son aquarium, partie destinée à figurer le tout, qui rappela à Swann, grand admirateur des Vices et des Virtus de Giotto à Padoue, cet Injuste à côté duquel un rameau feuillu évoque les forêts où se cache son repaire.
Du côté de chez Swann 1: 321-22

Montesquiou, Count Robert De (1855-1921)

See Tissot.


See Mirougrain in Photo Gallery.

Morand, Paul (1888-1976)

French diplomat and novelist. Proust wrote the preface for his collection of short stories Tendres Stocks.

On November 15, 1920, Proust's preface for Morand's Tendres Stocks appeared in the Revue de Paris, under the title "For a friend. Remarks on style." Although Proust said Morand's "delicious little novellas" needed no introduction, he would have undertaken a "real preface" had not "a sudden event prevented me from it. A strange woman took up residence in my brain. She came, she went," so often that soon he "knew all her ways. Moreover, like a boarder who is too attentive, she insisted on establishing direct relations with me. I was surprised to see that she was not beautiful. I had always thought that Death would be." Some of Proust's friends were disturbed to hear him thus announce his death; others, who had heard it so often, thought he lacked originality; still others found such a proclamation out of place in a preface for a young writer's first publication. For those who pitied Morand for his choice of presenter, matters only got worse in the following paragraphs, where the only direct remark about Morand as a writer was critical: Proust said his metaphors always fell short. 

See Contre Sainte-Beuve 5: 606-16.

For more details about Morand's relationship with Proust, see Carter, Marcel Proust: A Life and Proust in Love.

Morris, La Colonne

These columns on Paris streets were used, beginning in 1854, to advertize plays and other entertainments. They are named for the printer Gabriel Morris, who was the first concession holder:

Every morning I would hasten to the Morris column to see what new plays it announced. Nothing could be more disinterested or happier than the day-dreams with which these announcements filled my imagination, day-dreams which were conditioned by the associations of the words forming the titles of the plays, and also by the color of the bills, still damp and wrinkled with paste, on which those words stood out. Nothing, unless it were such strange titles as the Testament de César Girodot or Oedipus Rex, inscribed not on the green bills of the Opéra-Comique but on the wine-colored bills of the Comédie-Française, nothing seemed to me to differ more profoundly from the sparkling white plume of the Diamants de la Couronne than the sleek, mysterious satin of the Domino Noir; and since my parents had told me that, for my first visit to the theatre, I should have to choose between these two pieces, I would study exhaustively and in turn the title of one and the title of the other (for these were all that I knew of either), attempting to snatch from each a foretaste of the pleasure it promised, and to compare this with the pleasure latent in the other, until in the end I succeeded in conjuring up such vivid and compelling pictures of, on the one hand, a lay of dazzling arrogance, and on the other a gentle, velvety play, that I was as little capable of deciding which of them I should prefer to see as if, at the dinner-table, I had been obliged to choose between rice à l'impératrice and the famous chocolate cream.
Swann's Way 1: 100-01
Tous les matins je courais jusqu'à la colonne Morris pour voir les spectacles qu'elle annonçait. Rien n'était plus désintéressé et plus heureux que les rêves offerts à mon imagination par chaque pièce annoncée et qui étaient conditionnés à la fois par les images inséparables des mots qui en composaient le titre et aussi de la couleur des affiches encore humides et boursouflées de colle sur lesquelles il se détachait. Si ce n'est une de ces œuvres étranges comme Le Testament de César Girodot et Œdipe-Roi lesquelles s'inscrivaient non sur l'affiche verte de l'Opéra-Comique, mais sur l'affiche lie de vin de la Comédie-Française, rien ne me paraissait plus différent de l'aigrette étincelante et blanche des Diamants de la Couronne que le satin lisse et mystérieux du Domino Noir, et, mes parents m'ayant dit que quand j'irais pour la première fois au théâtre j'aurais à choisir entre ces deux pièces, cherchant à approfondir successivement le titre de l'une et le titre de l'autre, puisque c'était tout ce que je connaissais d'elles, pour tâcher de saisir en chacun le plaisir qu'il me promettait et de le comparer à celui que recélait l'autre, j'arrivais à me représenter avec tant de force, d'une part une pièce éblouissante et fière, de l'autre une pièce douce et veloutée, que j'étais aussi incapable de décider laquelle aurait ma préférence, que si, pour le dessert, on m'avait donné à opter entre du riz à l'impératrice et de la crème au chocolat.
Du côté de chez Swann 1: 72-73

Mutatis Mutandis

Latin phrase = the necessary changes being made; with due alteration of details.

The marquis de Norpois, an elderly, arrogant ex-diplomat, attempts to give the youthful Narrator, in the presence of his father, some literary advice and compares him to another young man with literary ambitions. The text is tinged with humor as the Narrator is discouraged by Norpois's ideas about literature, which differ so radically from his own, while being at the same time encouraged by the reaction that he knows that his father will have on hearing that one can rise socially and professionally by becoming what Norpois deems to be a successful writer:

Until now, I had concluded only that I had no gift for writing; now M. de Norpois took away from me even the desire to write. I wanted to express to him what had been my dreams, trembling with emotion, I was painfully anxious that all the words I uttered would be the sincerest possible equivalent of what I had felt and had never yet attempted to formulate; which is to say that my words were very unclear. Perhaps from a professional habit, perhaps by virtue of the calm that is acquired by every important personage whose advice is commonly sought, and who, knowing that he will keep the control of the conversation in his own hands, allows his interlocutor to fret, to struggle, to toil to his heart's content, perhaps also to show off the character of his face (Greek, according to himself, despite his sweeping whiskers), M. de Norpois, while anything was being expounded to him, would preserve a facial immobility as absolute as if you had been addressing some ancient—and deaf—bust in a museum. Until suddenly, falling upon you like an auctioneer's hammer or a Delphic oracle, the Ambassador's voice, as he replied to you, would be all the more striking in that nothing in his face had allowed you to guess what sort of impression you had made on him, or what opinion he was about to express.
"Precisely," he suddenly began, as though the case were now heard and judged, after having allowed me to stammer incoherently beneath those motionless eyes, which never for an instant left my face; "a friend of mine has a son whose case, mutatis mutandis, is very much like yours." He adopted in speaking of our common predisposition the same reassuring tone as if it had been a predisposition not for literature but for rheumatism, and he had wished to assure me that it would not necessarily prove fatal. "He too chose to leave the Quai d'Orsay, although the way had been paved for him there by his father, and without caring what people might say, he settled down to write. And certainly, he's had no reason to regret it. He published two years ago—of course, he's much older than you—a book about the Sense of the Infinite on the western shore of Lake Victoria Nyanza, and this year he has brought out a short treatise, less weighty but written with a lively, not to say cutting pen, on the Repeating Rifle in the Bulgarian Army; and these have put him quite in a class by himself . . . his name has been mentioned several times in conversation and not at all unfavourably, at the Academy of Moral Sciences. And so, though one can't say yet, of course, that he's exactly at the pinnacle, he has fought his way by sheer merit to a very fine position indeed, and success—which doesn't always come only to the pushers and the muddlers, the fusspots who are generally show-offs—success has crowned his efforts."
My father, seeing me already, in a few years' time, an Academician, exuded a satisfaction which M. de Norpois raised to the highest pitch when, after a momentary hesitation during which he appeared to be calculating the possible consequences of his act, he handed me his card and said: "Why not go and see him yourself. Tell him I sent you. He may be able to give you some good advice," plunging me by these words into as painful a state of anxiety as if he had told me that I was to embark next day as cabin-boy on board a wind-jammer.
Within a Budding Grove 2: 31-33
Jusqu'ici je m'étais seulement rendu compte que je n'avais pas le don d'écrire; maintenant M. de Norpois m'en ôtait même le désir. Je voulus lui exprimer ce que j'avais rêvé; tremblant d'émotion, je me serais fait un scrupule que toutes mes paroles ne fussent pas l'équivalent le plus sincère possible de ce que j'avais senti et que je n'avais jamais essayé de me formuler; c'est dire que mes paroles n'eurent aucune netteté. Peut-être par habitude professionnelle, peut-être en vertu du calme qu'acquiert tout homme important dont on sollicite le conseil et qui, sachant qu'il gardera en mains la maîtrise de la conversation, laisse l'interlocuteur s'agiter, s'efforcer, peiner à son aise, peut-être aussi pour faire valoir le caractère de sa tête (selon lui grecque, malgré les grands favoris), M. de Norpois, pendant qu'on lui exposait quelque chose, gardait une immobilité de visage aussi absolue que si vous aviez parlé devant quelque buste antique—et sourd—dans une glyptothèque. Tout à coup, tombant comme le marteau du commissaire-priseur, ou comme un oracle de Delphes, la voix de l'ambassadeur qui vous répondait vous impressionnait d'autant plus que rien dans sa face ne vous avait laissé soupçonner le genre d'impression que vous aviez produit sur lui, ni l'avis qu'il allait émettre.
«Précisément», me dit-il tout à coup comme si la cause était jugée et après m'avoir laissé bafouiller en face des yeux immobiles qui ne me quittaient pas un instant, «j'ai le fils d'un de mes amis qui, mutatis mutandis, est comme vous» (et il prit pour parler de nos dispositions communes le même ton rassurant que si elles avaient été des dispositions non pas à la littérature, mais au rhumatisme, et s'il avait voulu me montrer qu'on n'en mourait pas). «Aussi a-t-il préféré quitter le quai d'Orsay où la voie lui était pourtant toute tracée par son père et sans se soucier du qu'en dira-t-on, il s'est mis à produire. Il n'a certes pas lieu de s'en repentir. Il a publié il y a deux ans—il est d'ailleurs beaucoup plus âgé que vous, naturellement,—un ouvrage relatif au sentiment de l'Infini sur la rive occidentale du lac Victoria-Nyanza et cette année un opuscule moins important, mais conduit d'une plume alerte, parfois même acérée, sur le fusil à répétition dans l'armée bulgare, qui l'ont mis tout à fait hors de pair. . . . on a laissé tomber son nom deux ou trois dans la conversation et d'une façon qui n'avait rien de défavorable, à l'Académie des Sciences morales. En somme, sans pouvoir dire encore qu'il soit au pinacle, il a conquis de haute lutte une fort jolie position et le succès qui ne va pas toujours qu'aux agités et aux brouillons, aux faiseurs d'embarras qui sont presque toujours des faiseurs, le succès a récompensé son effort.»
Mon père, me voyant déjà académicien dans quelques années, respirait une satisfaction que M. de Norpois porta à son comble quand, après un instant d'hésitation pendant lequel il sembla calculer les conséquences de son acte, il me dit, en me tendant sa carte: «Allez donc le voir de ma part, il pourra vous donner d'utiles conseils», me causant par ces mots une agitation aussi pénible que s'il m'avait annoncé qu'on m'embarquait le lendemain comme mousse à bord d'un voilier.
À l'ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs 1: 444-45


See Danaïds.

See Furies.

See Ixion.

See Janus.

See Memnon.

See Xerxès.

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