À l'ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs manuscript

   [...] life. Since he had a lot of taste and the skill to speak to the imagination. And seeing how little pleasure I took in conversation, in society gatherings, I might well have thought, like those who are disappointed by travel, and who misguidedly place all their hopes in different countries, that I would find myself I was probably one of those who can hardly imagine that they will find any pleasure in the arts, who make their own light, their own electricity, and that every salon would disappoint me equally since I only took any pleasure from my own imagination. But since it was precisely to my imagination that Swann spoke, he came to make me consider those salons as something special, beyond imagination, imbued with an aesthetic charm (as he did with women's dress, with their beauty). When I asked him if some or other great lady went there he replied: "Oh no, not at all. There are never more than a dozen people there" (which often meant that the illustrious but socially rejected or standoffish fickle lady had not held on to her brilliant relations apart from some flotsam and jetsam). "I'll tell you who goes there every day of their life at five o'clock". And the names that he reeled off were not unfamiliar to me. They were to be seen at certain parties. But isolated in this way among a small number of others, in my imagination, at each of those salons, they cut a different figure, in the same way that the same little pieces of glass, according to the way they are arranged, compose themselves in a kaleidoscope. I felt moreover that it was these salons, even if they were bound to be infinitely curious, were not, in spite of their remoteness at the bottom of ancient gardens where it was necessary to show one's credentials before being admitted on account of certain masonic signs (certain objects being displayed in the window to indicate to the initiates whether or not the lady of the house was genuinely not at home), were not closed salons in the sense of being those of the highest elegance. And since they were the very ones that I saw Swann seek out, which for all that he entertained, attaching great importance to this on his wife's behalf, the least elegant formal society, I was left a little, in spite of his connections with the Princes d'Orléans (who like all sovereigns had close friends who were not willingly accepted in high society, to which many friends of the Duc d'Aumale would attest) [...]

Manuscript fragment of an early version of À l'ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs, c. 1910-1911. Jean-Baptise de Proyart, juin 2023.


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Created 21.06.23