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August 2014

Longtemps, je me suis couché de bonne heure.

August 18, 2014 | Ranald | Comments (0)

Parfois, à peine ma bougie éteinte, mes yeux se fermaient si vite que je n’avais pas le temps de me dire: «Je m’endors.» Et, une demi-heure après, la pensée qu’il était temps de chercher le sommeil m’éveillait; je voulais poser le volume que je croyais avoir encore dans les mains et souffler ma lumière…

These first sentences seem to allude to the composition of the novel, much of which Proust wrote at night in bed.

For the half hour that the narrator doesn't realize he's asleep, the novelist of the same name writes into the night, in notebook after notebook ("le volume que je croyais avoir encore dans les mains"), not as a "garrulous old dowager" (Beckett) but with the poise of a Duchesse de Guemantes (and allure of a Saint-Loup), as certain that he's not asleep as that he's not holding his notebook upside down.

There are 2-3 flights a day from Toronto to Paris, from now until the end of October. Torontonians like going. They're able to say, "I'm going to Paris!" They're able to use an exclamation mark, which they seldom find occasion to do. They're able to see what they can't see in Toronto, like Vermeer's De kantwerkster and De astronoom in the Louvre and, in the Bibliothèque nationale de France, the cahiers Proust wrote into the night in.

These cahiers can also be seen online (as can the Vermeers), without going to Paris, on the BnF’s Gallica.

Not having written even a short novel in bed, it's surprising, seeing them, to see, though not wanting in allure, how wanting in poise Proust's handwriting is. He was no doubt writing quickly. He wrote on the recto, not verso, of notebooks but sometimes, as in the one below, wrote on the verso as though it were the recto. He was holding the notebook upside down, suggesting hurry. And he was writing in bed.

 

Proust ms

Titre : Fonds Marcel Proust. II — À LA RECHERCHE DU TEMPS PERDU. A — Manuscrits autographes. XXXI-XCII Soixante-deux cahiers de brouillons comportant des ébauches des différentes parties de la Recherche à divers stades de leur rédaction. XXXI-XXXVII Contre Sainte-Beuve. NAF 16647

Date d'édition : XIXe-XXe s. Type : manuscrit Langue : Français Format : 71 f. - 220 × 175 mm. - Cahier moleskine noire Droits : domaine public Identifiant : ark:/12148/btv1b6000474c Source : Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des manuscrits, NAF 16647

Description : Contient : Combray ; Le Petit noyau des Verdurin ; Le Marquis de Guercy ; Sainte-Beuve et Baudelaire Provenance : bnf.fr

Date de mise en ligne : 09/10/2009

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