Lazing about after the meal

   On those days when it was far too hot, after lunch, instead of going out Jean went up to take an afternoon nap. But not wanting to lie down immediately after lunch one would stay for a short while in the dining room. It is just as easy, at the moment one is beginning to digest one's meal, to stay and do nothing, as it would be difficult to change places or to accomplish some task or other. And the well-being that accompanies this sort of somnolence, this sort of anaesthetic to our intelligence and our will, is enough to take the place of everything else in us. At that moment all we want to do, if our room looks out over a vitreous bay of the sea, is to watch the boats, but on condition that we do not have to move from our armchair next to which a small table has been placed close enough for us to be able to take our cognac without getting up. And if we are urged to come to the window to look at the steam launch from Le Havre as it arrives back at the jetty, when we have been sitting in the wing chair close by the window we say in a tone of reproach: "You've made me get up", and we smile... at the pleasure of sitting back down. We welcome any pleasure that adds to our general pleasure, but only on condition that we are not obliged to go and look for it: the sight of colours burnished by the sunshine, the blue green sea, white sails,  great black steam packets with their smoke dematerializing in the blueness and the breeze from the sea, the pretty furnishings in the drawing-room, an enchanting melody that sweeps us up at will, rapid or slow, for our glorification or well-being, but without obliging us to move from our place. If, without getting up, we can accompany the melody with our own voice, we give ourselves the intimate pleasure of then feeling our voice at intervals passing through our relaxed breast and voluptuously following the rhythm where the air carries it, indicative of the sovereignty that we are feeling at that moment. Then the music gives a momentaneous form to everybody's pleasure, but everybody listens to it, of course, one from their sofa, another from their armchair. At most it is as if a young girl who cannot stay still, or the person who cannot digest their food very easily if they lay down after lunch, goes over to the piano stool to turn the pages where the other person is warming up and for whom the exercise of his talent is a sufficient stimulant or an act that is so easy to accomplish that he never hesitated to take up his uncomfortable position. The others are all seated in different corners of the room, in the place where they found themselves and from where they had no wish to move, or in the place they chose out of habit, for comfort, or because they had calculated that they would be less disturbed there. Everybody, invested by the meal with this beatitude and by the dominion of one o'clock in the afternoon and like some royal feast [...]

NAF 16615, 102r - Jean Santeuil précédé de Les Plaisirs et les jours, Pléiade, 1971, p. 1003


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Created 27.06.19