Interview with André Arnyvelde
This reclusion, I believe, has profoundly benefited my work. Shadow, silence and solitude, by laying their heavy cloak over me, have obliged me to re-create within myself all the lights and music and thrills of nature and society. My spiritual being no longer assails itself against the barriers of the visible and nothing impedes its freedom [...] When it happens that a slender ray of sunlight manages to insinuate itself in here, like the ancient statue of Memnon which produces harmonious sounds when it is struck by the rays of the rising star, my whole being bursts with joy and I find myself transported into worlds of splendour... I find a profound sensuousness within my imprisonment. In much the same way, I assure you, and please don't laugh because you will come to understand my meaning, I don't think that for me there is any kind of reading which gives me the same pleasure... as railway timetables. Oh! the sweetness and the caress of all those names of villages and towns in the P.L.M.1, the charming evocation of lands of light and life that I will never visit...
Du côté de chez Swann [...] is
just the first book of a trilogy called À la recherche du temps perdu.
The second book will be called: Le Côté de Guermantes; the
third: Le Temps retrouvé. It goes without saying that each
volume can, or will be possible to be considered as a complete work in its
own right. Yet it will be only after reading all three books that the
reader will possess the full identity of my characters. I have tried to
follow real life through the unsuspected aspects of a character as they
are suddenly revealed in front of our eyes [...] In this way we shall see
in my book, among many others, a certain Vinteuil, who, in Du côté de
chez Swann, is a decent chap, although a somewhat clumsy bourgeois
and rather common; and it is not until the next volume that we learn that
he is in fact a musician of genius, the author of a sublime cantata....
To my mind my work has been like a vast tapestry that was too large to be kept in an apartment in its entirety and had to be cut up.
My characters will appear under multiple aspects through the course of the volumes, just as through time the different personalities of a particular individual are revealed to us. [...]
Throughout our life we have with us as a sort of companion in chains, a different man to our physical being. You see... when we think of ourselves we are creating a certain idea of ourselves... But when we look in a mirror the reflection we see is our real image... The other one was a stranger... It was the spiritual self... Well, that is the only one that is important to me... So too I am interested only in the manifestations of this "self" and not in events and dates...
I only consider my objective self (to use the word in the sense that it was understood by the philosophers) as an instrument of experimentation which is of no interest in itself but which connects me to my spiritual side so as to penetrate into certain realities and above all into the half-light of consciousness, upon which I try to shine some light...
So I couldn't tell you when I first began to write...
I took an article to one of the large daily papers. They liked it. It was published. Then others were published. The director of the paper acted like a bee-keeper with his bees in regard to any qualities that I might have had. He helped me with his advice and his friendship, in the same way as breeders of bees prepare their hives and their combs where the honey will be made...
1. P.L.M. Paris-Lyon Méditeranée railway company.
Interview with André
Arnyvelde (real name André Lévy) appeared in Le Miroir, 21 December
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