Proust is really different. This writer in France is really a milestone : long, hard to read, but magnificent like a cathedral for those who dared to explore his huge masterpiece.
Therefore there are two kinds of French people : those who read Proust and those who did not, or abandoned the discipline.
Today I talked with a Proust lover, and we agreed on this :
Well : the way he explores the human mind and its tropisms (which are the “very subtle movements of the human mind”), like a… craftsman goldsmith, a jewels maker, is exhausting : on each page you’ll find ideas for one single evening of conversation (with a real conversation lover, I mean).
(I know : there are few)
Then we talked about Paul Valéry, who does the same in his Carnets (Notebooks), but not in the “novel” form : only thinking and explaining.
Both of them are craftsmen, goldsmiths, jewels makers. They find ideas so subtle and delicious that you have to stop and smile and think for a few hours. Intelligences of the highest range…
One (Proust) unfolds this in long (I mean : LONG) phrases running for pages in gorgeous French. It’s like spreading out in the novel, it’s so good that it can hurt you. YES : “that” good.
The other one (Valéry) works on jewels. He makes very very small paragraphs, a few lines, that makes you stop and think the whole thing :
Oh my God he’s so right I’ve never seen it written so well before!
Finding seeds, delicate ideas. Offering them to the audience, one in complex magnificent buildings made of words, the other in small boxes containing a splendid marvel.
Two ways, to means. Try both, if you dare!
Thanks for reading!