“The old porch by which we entered, black, pocked like a skimming ladle, was uneven and deeply hollowed at the edges (like the font to which it led us), as if the gentle brushing of the country-women’s cloaks as they entered the church and of their timid fingers taking holy water could, repeated over centuries, acquire a destructive force, bend the stone and carve it with furrows like those traced by the wheel of a cart in a boundary stone which it knocks against every day. Its tombstones, under which the noble dust of the abbots of Combray, who were buried there, formed for the choir a sort of spiritual pavement, were themselves no longer inert and hard matter, for time had softened them and made them flow like honey beyond the bounds of their own square shapes, which, in one place, they had overrun in a flaxed billow, carrying off on their drift a flowery Gothic capital letter, drowning the white violets of the marble….”
(Marcel Proust, Swann’s Way)
(Poems and prose that remind me of archaeology, pt 5)
I wasn’t sure about this new translation by Davis, but am relaxing into it, finding it as lush and velvety as the Moncrieff version, if not more so. Proust is a nice break from some of the more jagged academic writing; it makes me feel like I’m sitting underneath a large tree in the summertime, without a care in the world.
Anyone want a madeleine?