Manuscript fragment

   The preoccupation of certain artists [...] from them as though everything that comes from them was [...] that the possession of one by that more [...] life, and consequently for us upon hearing of a furtive[?] phrase[?] [...] a few lines quoted in a work that we would have bought[?] far distant [illegible] we know that if it quotes a few words from our adored author we [...] [illegible] delights[?] than that of the dilettante who has before his ears without wishing it a hearing [...] and perfect in the works of the same musician, in the library where he has all the books [...] complete works of our writer. Also certain books becoming impregnated with our past life to the extent that the very mention of their name gives us the feeling of living in them for a moment, that is to say in a life in which there are no doubt more objectives[?] exterior to us, that lay bare by the fascination[?] [...] interest out of the vanity of our own nature, so much so that we bathe in a [...] [illegible] overburdened with that intimate essence of things and of ourselves [illegible] poetic feeling, that leaves us indifferent to all pleasures and to all egoistical fear[?] [...] and provides us only with the need to thoroughly examine it and to fix it.  While I was undergoing my military service Schumann was that same prescience for me. The surgeon-major at whose house I had heard him and had had that impression that afterwards we try to rediscover at any cost and which meanwhile dominated all my dreams, often played it to me. But I wanted to possess it so as to be able to play it for myself whenever I wanted, even though I did not know how to play. And I requested a book of Schumann's music. I was sent the Scenes from Childhood. I could only play one or two phrases but the titles were enough for me, At the Fireside, In the Evening, the Lead Soldiers, The Poet Speaks, and I dreamed about the Schumann pieces that I did not know so that I imbued myself with the whole spirit of Schumann that was stirring within me.  So that those pages of the Scenes from Childhood with titles sometimes magical and sometimes familiar of a life where there really is a Poet who sometimes speaks - which is very much in keeping with and easy to believe for someone like me for whom all pleasures are domestic, with dreams about a Poet who sometimes speaks - do not summon up for me my life [...] without making me ascribe some or other episode but give me the feeling [...] life completely the same[?] [...] entire the poetry [...] [illegible] [...]

[...] things which give me pleasure and were able to [...] to write (which for me is the same [...] from the past suddenly restore it to me, like [...] the essence of things in which I [...] free from care moreover. [...] that album of Schumann [...] at that time imbued my life, no less than the chocolate [...] was steaming in the canteen when every time[?] there came down to go on exercises some [...] all in anticipation I went down to the canteen to have some chocolate before going out, and that the cool morning air and the blue of the sky moistened by the steam on the window pane and gilded by the sun entered into that [illegible] canteen kitchen, the room hot by contrast and where the whole vicinity of the stove was illuminated with other reflections, the reflections [...] of red flames, as always happens in those sweet memories [...] [illegible] the force of the immense cool golden blue day, and of the scorching, burning hot, busy and comfortable house. Steam rises from the chocolate and the morning air moistens the window panes. Meanwhile hurriedly we swallow down the chocolate and leave at a run, because the battalion is already assembling. And we still feel it in our stomachs and the warmth of the kitchen throughout our whole bodies, while on our faces we feel the coolness of the sky. And the senior men who have nothing to do before nine o'clock remain in the canteen to drink calmly while leave for the morning, followed by the tradesmen who to [illegible] bring us drinks.[?] Sometimes the colonel who we did not expect to see arrives on horseback [...] and prolongs one by his movements, other times he [illegible]. And we return [illegible] asking again if the sergeant of the day who is bringing letters has one for us, we would already have passed[?] [illegible] a letter bearing a particular handwriting. Because there are certain periods of our life in which sacrifices that know nothing of gives us all our life from that time, all our thoughts even during military marches, even at [...] reading to a person for whom [...] more than [...] At that moment [...]

[...] nothing are those by which she has not [...] moving like the despatch that [...] who alone[?] we have thought that one word [...] that she would not have been able and which making us think[?] [...] to still think about her. Then our nights are disturbed, our mornings filled with the [...] we purchase portraits that bear some resemblance to her, we show her name, we interlace our initials as if to unite the letters [illegible] favourite, because we feel[?] a great deal about things but nothing about hearts being able to reconcile hearts, we give to heroines to see in her face and in this way we have the sweetness of hearing her speaking words of love to us, to see them intermingle[?], vanish, so many paths have been formed in words[?] [...] that we do not doubt that a fire has been lit during those times in reality and what seemed to us impossible has become possible,  [illegible] permitted. In other periods we have no love and we can relieve[?] [...] to understand the essence of love, with no object to love by one of those [illegible] [...] Then we love those that we have loved with difficulty, platonically even, with a love simply[?] [...]

A tantalizing but badly torn and unidentified manuscript fragment from NAF 16634 248r - 249r. Because of the fragmentary nature of the manuscript it is not possible to establish a coherent  version. But it is of interest, I think, for the unusual mention of Schumann and Proust's military service.


Return to Front Page