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Lost Time Thursday: A Welcome Isolation

I felt myself isolated, not only from the great, freezing night which extended far around us and in which we heard from time to time the whistle of a train which only rendered more keen the pleasure of being where we were, or the chime of an hour which, happily, was still a long way short of that at which these young men would have to buckle on their sabres and go, but also from all my external obsessions, almost from the memory of Mme. de Guermantes, by the hospitality of Saint-Loup, to which that of his friends, reinforcing it, gave, so to speak, a greater solidity; by the warmth also of this little dining-room, by the savour of the well-chosen dishes that were set before us. They gave as much pleasure to my imagination as to my appetite; sometimes the little piece of still life from which they had been taken, the rugged holy water stoup of the oyster in which lingered a few drops of brackish water, or the knotted stem, the yellow leaves of a bunch of grapes still enveloped them, inedible, poetic and remote as a landscape, and producing, at different points in the course of the meal, the impressions of rest in the shade of a vine and of an excursion out to sea; on other evenings it was the cook alone who threw into relief these original properties of our food, which he presented in its natural setting, like a work of art; and a fish cooked in wine was brought in on a long earthenware dish, on which, as it stood out in relief on a bed of bluish herbs, unbreakable now but still contorted from having been dropped alive into boiling water, surrounded by a circle of satellite creatures in their shells, crabs, shrimps and mussels, it had the appearance of being part of a ceramic design by Bernard Palissy.

"I am jealous, furious," Saint-Loup attacked me, half smiling, half in earnest, alluding to the interminable conversations aside which I had been having with his friend. "Is it because you find him more intelligent than me; do you like him better than me? Well, I suppose he's everything now, and no one else is to have a look in!" Men who are enormously in love with a woman, who live in the society of woman-lovers, allow themselves pleasantries on which others, who would see less innocence in them, would never venture.

If you say so!

I won't have much to say about it probably, but thanks to Project Gutenberg I'm still creeping along in Guermantes despite not having it with me.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 30th, 2016 01:43 pm (UTC)
Jul. 1st, 2016 02:08 am (UTC)
a ceramic design by Bernard Palissy.

Palissy! I happened to be looking up photos of his work recently; have you ever seen them? I think this one is my favorite, although the crayfish in this one is a thing of joy. And the pitchers are even better than the plates, imo! This one is fantastic, but I would give A LOT to own these snakes and lettuce! (But I would not give quite as much money as I'm sure it's actually worth, alas.)

Sorry, I've only just learned about him, so I was very excited to see this reference.

Edited at 2016-07-01 02:09 am (UTC)
Jul. 1st, 2016 06:12 am (UTC)
Oh, wow, look at that! :D No, I hadn't seen these before. They're a little bit Proustian, aren't they? kind of feverish in their attention to detail? I don't blame you for wanting to own the snakes and lettuce, I mean LOOK AT IT.

Thanks for bringing these to my attention! I tend to just roll right over references I don't know with maybe a vague sense that I should look it up later, but seeing these ceramics really adds a lot to an already great description.
Jul. 2nd, 2016 08:26 pm (UTC)
Oh, I don't look up most references either. I don't think you can, if you read a lot of historical books – stopping multiple times a page to google something isn't very conducive to enjoying a story.

This is just one reference that I happened to have been looking at pictures of recently, and I was so surprised to see him mentioned again that I wanted to share my discovery. It's a bit hard to imagine actually eating off one of these plates, but they do make excellent metaphors for writers, ha!
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


blase ev

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