Contre Sainte-Beuve manuscript

   In the small house in the rue du Mont-Parnasse, on a Monday morning in winter with the daylight still pale above the drawn curtains, he opened Le Constitutionel and felt conscious that at this very moment the words that he had chosen were about to introduce into a good many Paris bedrooms news of the splendid ideas that he had hit upon and in many homes excite that admiration that experiences for itself what he had felt take shape in his own mind, an idea that was superior to any he had ever read by other people and which presented itself in all its force, with all its detail that he himself at first had not perceived, in the full light of day, with shades too that he had lovingly caressed.  To be sure he did not feel the emotion of the debutant who some time ago had sent his article to the paper, and not seeing it when he opened his paper began finally to despair that it would ever appear. But one morning coming into his bedroom his mother placed the newspaper beside him with a more absent-minded expression than usual, as if to say there was nothing in it of any interest. But for all that she left it close beside him so that he could not avoid reading it and she quickly retired, pushing back the old servant who was about to come into the room. And he smiled at her because he understood that his beloved mother wanted him to suspect nothing, wanted his joy to be a complete surprise, and that he be alone to savour it, not being irritated by anyone else's words while he read, and being obliged  through pride to hide his joy from those who might have indiscreetly asked to share it with him. Yet above the pale daylight, the sky is the colour of live coals, in the foggy streets thousands of newspapers, still damp from the printing press and early morning dew, a more nourishing and tasty routine than the warm brioche that around the still lit lamp we break into our cups of coffee, will carry his thoughts multiplied a thousand times over into every home. He quickly orders more copies of the paper to be bought so as to actually touch with his own hands the miracle of this astonishing multiplication, to put himself into the mind of a new purchaser, open with an unprejudiced eye this other copy, and find within it the same thoughts. And just as the sun, growing in strength, swollen and glowing has leapt by means of the slight burst of its distension above the violet horizon, he sees at the same hour his ideas rise like the sun in each and every mind, triumphant and imbuing them with its colours. Sainte-Beuve was no longer a debutant and no longer experienced these joys. But yet, on this early winter's morning he saw, in her four poster bed, Mme de Boigne opening Le Constitutionel, told himself that at two o'clock the Chancellor would come to see her, and would perhaps talk to her about it and that evening he would receive word from Mme Allart or Mme d'Arbouville telling him what they had thought about it.

From NAF 16636. Printed in Bulletin d'informations proustiennes, no 34, 2004, p.73: Proust «débutant»: la dynamique de l'écriture dans les premiers textes, Jean-Marc Quaranta.


Created 13.11.15

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