À l'ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs manuscript

   One pleasure that is exalted by sensuality without allowing itself to be recognized, a pleasure rather imperfectly tasted so that on account of this unattainability of an ideal, makes its pursuit joyous in its task and makes a day of idleness active, unfinished, turning to the hope of the following day as if it were a day of work. But as for the little shop girls at least we know at what time and where to find them; we can speak to them, we can avoid the sorrow of being disregarded by them, as no doubt I was, by giving them large tips, had they even noticed me, this little band of young girls. My desire was moreover only inflamed by them. To contemplate the surface of a face the colour of geraniums does not furnish the reality, but only one dimension of a person; we must construct the others, draw out other aspects through imagination. But this self same surface [...] would be quite different had we only spoken to the girl. In front of her we find ourselves in front of the portrait of a woman whose life has to be recreated; and since the silence of this creature who passes at a distance gives fullness, solidity, mystery to her face, if we come to know this unknown person at a later date we are astonished how such a substantial painting can collapse into nothing [...] but this so alluring face, since it belongs to a creature behind which thoughts and ideas circulate, a whole existence into which we are not admitted, steals away the moment it offers itself up [...] This suffering, ever since I had constructed the life of these young girls in my imagination, that is to say made it worthy of being discovered - as was formerly the case with the name of the church at Balbec -, so as to alleviate it, yesterday I wanted to be introduced to them by somebody who knew them, and who I was unable to find [...] It was as if I had seen projected in front of me in an unsteady and diabolic hallucination a little of the hostile and yet violently lustful dream that the moment before still did not exist, not stagnating in any permanent way other than in my own brain.

The manuscript "Cahier violet" no 11, c.1918, was split up and included in the 50 de luxe copies of À l'ombre de jeunes filles en fleurs. This is taken from fragments of that manuscript.


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