Portrait of Mlle Germaine Giraudeau

   [September? 1893]

   [...] In her beauty everything is contrasted. The white cheeks and the black eyes. And over the Slavic brow black hair, like raven's wings resting in a field of snow. In those eyes there is sometimes sadness, and often gaiety, just as the sky brightens up if it is overcast. And for us they are also, those eyes, a little like the weather. Indeed like the sky they show extreme suggestions of melancholy or happiness. Like the daylight that paints the wall in front of me into an Eden of enchantment or a fresco of despair. Little white soul, pure as a fall of snow, with beautiful, lustrous, chill raven's wings, let your tormented flight take rest on me, light of your genius, mystery of your destiny. Little chill souls that we are, cold from weeping so long, we truly can no longer remain in our chaste linen but benumbed of all the tears that by turns burn us and freeze us let us go and warm ourselves. Recall animated mystery, gaze on vivacious grace, liberate yourself from incarnate whims. What could be more troubling than that conversation that is almost parallel with our interior dialogue, that reflects it rather than explains it, or ever coincides with it. We divine, without your ever explaining it to us like a meteorologist. Like that of your fascinating friends - the stormy atmosphere that enervates your spirit makes it writhe, languish, swoon, even despair, with abrupt relaxations, a lightning flash has come into view, a clap of thunder unties your hands, ah!, into this whole interior forest of sublime shudders, disquieting murmurs, celestial horizons, purplish and deep, ah!, let me place myself in harmony with this infinitely sad lyre, with the thousand voices of the storm. This much I merit for my present terrible sorrow so full of tears and bitterness in the throat, a despair which the overwhelming monotony of the burning sky darkly soothes.

Marcel P.

Written in a visitors' autograph book belonging to Germaine Giraudeau. The first part of this portrait is missing as it was destroyed by Mlle Giraudeau shortly afterwards on the advice of her confessor. We now know nothing about the length or the contents of the missing section.

From Bulletin de la société des amis de Marcel Proust et des amis de Combray, No 13, 1963, p9 - p15. Un amour de Proust? Textes inédits à Germaine Giraudeau, Bryant C. Freeman.

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