Quotes about Marcel Proust
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There's such a thing as having too much style. I think the only one who ever got away with it is Proust. He really had a perfect mating of material and style. Usually if you have a great style your material will be more constrained. That applies to Henry James and it applies to Hemingway.
One measures oncoming old age by its deepening of Proust, and its deepening by Proust. How to read a novel? Lovingly, if it shows itself capable of accomodating one's love; and jealously, because it can become the image of one's limitations in time and space, and yet can give the Proustian blessing of more life.
In the light of what Proust wrote with so mild a stimulus, it is the world's loss that he did not have a heartier appetite. On a dozen Gardiner's Island oysters, a bowl of clam chowder, a peck of steamers, some bay scallops, three sauteed soft-shelled crabs, a few ears of fresh picked corn, a thin swordfish steak of generous area, a pair of lobsters, and a Long Island Duck, he might have written a masterpiece.
James Cain - faugh! Everything he touches smells like a billygoat. He is every kind of writer I detest, a faux naix, a Proust in greasy overalls, a dirty little boy with a piece of chalk and a board fence and nobody looking. Such people are the offal of literature, not because they write about dirty things, but because they do it in a dirty way.
[You've said your material chooses you.] That's the difference between the serious artist and the craftsman—-the craftsman can take material and because of his abilities do a professional job of it. The serious artist, like Proust, is like an object caught by a wave and swept to shore. He's obsessed by his material; it's like a venom working in his blood and the art is the antidote.
I spent my nights reading Proust's A Remembrance of Things Past, admiring the lucid, subtle but strong prose, stupefied by its dazzling magic, awed by the vast, delicate, intricate, and psychological structure of the Frenchman's epic of death and decadence. But it crushed me with hopelessness, for I wanted to write of the people in my environment with an equal thoroughness, and the burning example before my eyes made me feel that I never could.
I once read somewhere that Sean Connery left school at the age of 13 and later went on to read Proust and Finnegans Wake and I keep expecting to meet an enthusiastic school leaver on the train, the type of person who only ever reads something because it is marvellous (and so hated school). Unfortunately the enthusiastic school leavers are all minding their own business.