Maeterlinck manuscript fragment

   [...]  [Maeterlinck] seemed to say that the motor car opened up a new era in the artistic sensibility? It is going to allow us, he says, to absorb in virtually one day as much of the countryside, the skies above, and sights that in days gone by one could only absorb through the course of an entire lifetime [...] etc. [A false idea, Proust claims. The greatest scientific discoveries have not improved mankind, have not produced any philosophies] greater than Plato, any poets of greater genius than that of Homer, sages more noble or auspicious than Epicurus. But on the very particular and in any case lesser question of the motor car M. Maeterlinck's theory seems to me to be incorrect for other reasons. [...] First of all it is quite true to say that we absorb as much of the countryside in one day as in days gone by we absorbed in a lifetime. [...]

From a four page manuscript. Auction of the possessions of Jacques Guérin, Nouveau Drouot, 22 November 1985, lot 115. Extract from the sales catalogue reprinted in Bulletin d'informations proustiennes, no. 17, 1986, p. 71. Maeterlinck published an article in Le Figaro, 13 July 1901, Sensations d'automobiles. In 1904 the same article was published in Le Double jardin as En automobile. The article includes the phrase: "afin de vous permettre d’absorber en un jour autant de paysages, de ciels et de spectacles, qu’on en absorbait autrefois au cours de toute une vie". It is unclear whether Proust is responding to the 1901 article or the later publication in 1904.


Return to Front Page

Created 04.02.22