Senancour: he could me me
Senancour: he could be me.
Moral reverie inspired by nature. He was, I believe, an invalid.
In fact it is necessary to be feeble in order to be intoxicated
in this way by the simplest aspects of nature. But his
reflections bore us; his harmonious phrases leave us colder the
harder he tries to move us (cf. France and Barrès quite often
now, Chateaubriand very often). At the root of everything I am
searching for is that it is the very sensation of particular
landscapes that is delightful.
"the noise of fast-running water" (p. 112).
A phrase which could have been written by me: "But at least we will become sensible to certain accidents of the light and of some vegetal seasonableness" (p. 74).
Let us return to feelings: "and the sounds that animate in their procession the Ementhal troops" (72).
"the autumnal simplicity, the gentle accord of silence in the sky, of the maturity of plants and of the earth's repose" (69); "the abated brightness behind the mists that no longer disperse themselves" (remember the Nahe, the protracted shadows on departure from Creusnach1) (69); "those leaves which without being buffeted by storms detach themselves and give themselves up to the movement of the air" (70); "in the density of yellowed woods, among broken and forgotten branches on the damp moss."
Read on page 66 what he says about the return of the light. Something, alas, that I have not experienced for a long time.
Page 56 on the trees, could be me. But I do not try to attach any moral sense to natural phenomena. Because it is pure allegory. However it is certainly true that the sight of nature re-awakens thought and that the life of the mind can find myriad charms in the sight of nature. Which proves the mysterious relationship (since progress in the life of the mind and in the admiration of nature are parallel and react upon each other) between intellectual truth and natural beauty. Whereas there is none (at least for me) between this same truth and the luxury and stage settings of the theatre, etc. While I am so removed from Senancour I note this: A clearly understood truth can no longer be written with sincerity. A poet who has understood through his own intelligence what he wants to write is like the man who feigns surprise over something he already knows very well. Thus everything I have written above could equally well be taken from my books.
To come back to some of Senancour's phrases: "You see nothing but the thorns in the sand, the cave, etc" (all this is very Fontainebleau2) [p. 21, very me]. Page 18, once again sands and thorns. "When the winds send the noise of cataracts through space". See 177: "morning, thorns"; 190: once again the sun which has just come out, "the sand furrowed by the tracks of hinds or hares"; "bizarrely shattered sandstone" (and at the top of 190, cf. Kenilworth3 and me): 214 and "those birds that seem to achieve their independence from the night", "those cries of hidden joy"; "on the beach embellished by the flames of dawn" 301, 324 (Heredia, Conquistadores4).
Unpublished manuscript discovered among Mme Mante-Proust's archives. Probably written c.1920 after À l'ombre de jeunes filles en fleurs. Page references are from the "third edition" of Rêveries sur la nature primitive de l'homme, Senancour 1798, published in 1833 as Rêveries. Senancour (1770 - 1846).
1. Proust is remembering holidays spent at Kreuznach with his mother in 1895 and 1897. The Nahe is a tributary of the Rhine which crosses Kreuznach.
2. In 1896 Proust spent a holiday with Léon Daudet at Fontainebleau.
3. Kenilworth, by Walter Scott.
4. Sonnet by Heredia.
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