On the count's psyche

9, boulevard Malesherbes
Sunday 11 o'clock
[11 Mar 1894]

Dear Sir,

   if you would deign to read this enclosed little study you will understand why I am particularly grateful to you this evening (an old piece that I would never have sent you, but topical, alas, and in your name). Please allow me to add no further justifications. I renounce it henceforth, convinced that we cannot, at a certain level, listen to ourselves and in any case I'm not taking it too seriously. The maxim "a word to the wise is sufficient" is too restrictive. The bad listener can, in other ways, be "delightful". What good depriving oneself of these delights through morose intransigence? Our destinies in everything are without doubt there to be overcome, not to be understood. If those who misjudge them, embellish them in a different way, why wear them out with inevitably unheard and misunderstood, and in any case extremely tiresome, reproaches? A misunderstanding (which I wrongly thought had been dispelled) that is renewed after one year is a misunderstanding for ever. Just as there are original laws of arithmetic so there are in the chronology of feelings. Is it lack of knowledge in that respect on your part - or thoughtlessness on mine? I wouldn't even know how to discuss it. But, in trying once again to convince you for ever, either I am missing the correct note - or you ears. Be that as it may, renouncing for ever a more intimate confidence, merely pitying, without ceasing to admire him, the one who crushes thus between mistrustful fingers the most moving devotion and the most sincere tenderness, I preserve too profound a taste for the charm of your wit, a too sincere gratitude for your goodness to me, to cease on account of this sentimental renouncement, to revel so eagerly in your connection, if you deign to keep it alive.And I send you a thousand affectionate respects. I am going to write the Folies-Bergère in for Saturday.

Marcel Proust.

   Do not delay too long, Monsieur, having the little blue bird sought out. I fear, this evening, that it may be dying. Perhaps it will be found dead already.


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Upon returning from a preview
On the count's psyche [1893?]

   Melancholy and distracted (is it not through seeing everything and saying nothing, that gives you, mirror, that transparent, distracted appearance) distracted, like all the noble, charming and sad creatures who, from the depth of their exile, remember, foresee, (and that again is, alas, to remember) the mirror, where wisteria bend down in tears - as if at the edge of a pond - the mirror, with the blind fixity of look that dreams but no longer sees, was dreaming. The inspired sage who blended into this thing of delicacy, the most profound, the most intense intimacy with the most celestial, the most mysterious distance, would not he alone have had to rest his woes there that weep and gaze endlessly at the wisteria. The resignation of this gentle sob resigned to being emitted in harmony, opened out - less than enraptured - into flower (the lament that becomes the flower and, by excess of enchantment, caresses with its reflection the wave fixed in the frost of this closely observed dream, that familiar and sublime grace, that habitual poetry, that accustomed melancholy, that elegant and accomplished specimen of the smiling wisdom of those without hope, this pensive look, sightless and calm, set beyond the mauve flower, moistened with the tears from its eyes, was attracted without end, scattered irretrievably, more than through any haughtiness, by its perfection, our smitten dreams, but dreams unworthy of being reflected there. A distracted young woman threw herself before it. It was to convince herself that the tricoloured ribbons that were restraining her impure bosom were "holding". She had no regard for the delicate and dreaming thing, so well defended was she from vulgarity by her own beauty, and, amid this dissolute mob, maintained the mystery of her melancholy and the charm of her solitude. The shamelessness of the young woman's gesture did nothing to interrupt the inexhaustible and silent tears of the wisteria, any more than had she disturbed the clairvoyance of the mirror in which the wisteria came to draw up the sap of its tears and the secret of its grief. But it now seemed that the wisteria's tears flowed more bitterly and more gently still after the ignoble offence that accounted for them.
   But the silent and eloquent mirror, sightless and yet seeing, spoke no more of it, and returned us to our reverie, enriched, in its own sadness, in the exquisite frame of its haughty and yielding elegance, melancholic and resigned, inattentive and thoughtful.

Marcel Proust.

(who lays at the feet of the artist his respect, his sincere admiration with his loyal affection).

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