Proustism

This site will explore some literary background on Proust, but will mainly focus on introducing the reader to Proust's style of writing. I will relate his writing to some of the things we are learning in Hypertext Class as well as experiment with my own writing.

Name:
Location: Tualatin, Oregon

This is my third year in the MAIS program at Marylhurst University and am excited to begin my thesis the fall of '05. I am the proud mother of 5-year old twins--Logan and Nikki---and have a great husband that has put up with me for 12 years.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Memories

"Swann's Way" is just one of several books Prouse wrote "In Search of Lost Time." His goal is writing these books was to put together his memories; these included the guilt, joy, regrets, indulgences, (and occasionally repentance) which was seemed to haunt his mind as he grew older.

The poem I write today deals with own memories as I begin with two sentences from Proust:

"But now, even though they had led to nothing,
those moments seemed to me to have had enough
charm in themselves.
I wanted to find them once
again as I remember them." (pg 443)
O Mighty Past, how I need you!
I try to make them real again,
make them tell me what I long to hear.
No. They fade and die into a whisper,
too dull for me to feel.
Edges are what I have,
Edges are where I stand.
Living and casting out my memories
to the holding Shadows.
They wait until I am complete.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Non-Linearity in Hypertext

Theorists of hypertext, such as Landow say we are accustomed to thinking about time as sequence, but time is also "a patterning of interrelated experienes reflectd upon as though it had a geography and could be mapped." This thought was sent to our class in an e-mail from Meg Roland. I also found in wikipedia that Derrida felt "deconstruction emphasises the way that presentism leaves us with no more than a chain of relations." I could see Landow's ideas, as well as Derrida's thoughts on deconstruction and non-linearity come alive in this (of course long) sentence from Proust. Notice how he weaves several experiences together (a chain of relations)to give us a picture (or map) of where he was at this time in his childhood:

"Lastly, continuing to trace from the inside to the outside these states simultaneously juxtaposed in my consciousness, and before reaching the real horizon that enveloped them, I find pleasures of another kind, the pleasure of being comfortably seated, of smelling the good scent of the air, of not being disturbed by a visit; and, when an hour rang in the bell tower of Saint-Hilaire, of seeing fall piece by piece what was already consumed of the afternoon, until I heard the last stroke, which allowed me to add up the total and after which the long silence that followed it seemed to commence in the blue sky that whole part that was still granted me for reading until the good dinner which Francoise was preparing and which would restore me from the hardships I had incurred, during the reading of the book, in pursuit of its hero." (pg 89)

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Worlds of Possibilities

Well, it's that time again. I would like to show some of my writing from how the famous scene of the madeleine cake affected me. This scene is famous as it is the entry point for Proust to begin reflecting back on his childhood. When I read this part, I reflected back on my own childhood and a certain food that, today, still takes me back to my grandmother's house.
First, Proust's scene:
"But at the very instant when the mouthful of tea mixed with cake crumbs touched my palate, I quivered, attentive to the extraordinary thing that was happening inside me. A delicious pleasure had invaded me, isolated me without my having any notion as to its cause.......Where could it have come to me from--this powerful joy? I sensed that is was connected to the taste of the tea and the cake, but that it went infinitely far beyond it, could not be of the same nature.....Clearly, the truth I am seeking is not in the drink, but in me.....And suddenly the memory appeared. That taste was the taste of the little piece of madeleine, which on Sunday mornings at Combray when I went to say good morning to her in her bedroom, my aunt Leonie would give me after dipping it in her infusion of tea or lime blossom." (pgs 45-47)

Now my own memory:

It would start when my grandmother would take the Swanson's chicken pot pie out of the oven with her gold-colored mitts, and place it upside down on her plate. Gently tapping the bottom of the tin foil pan with her fork, she would carefully lift it off so as not to disturb the crust or leave any stuck on bottom of the pan. She would then place a thin slice of pepper jack cheese on top and wait for it to melt completely before piercing it open with the edge of her fork. A blast of steam came out as she smashed the pie down making sure both the cheese and internal juices were spread evenly across the crust. Then, slowly, she gathered up a bite to eat, pausing momentarily to blow on it, and would wrap her mouth tightly around the fork leaving it there for a few seconds while she closed her eyes like someone who is about to be kissed by their lover. After slowly pulling out the fork she would ask if I wanted a bite, but I always said no, because after tasting it once, I never thought it tasted as delicious as she made it look. So this was my Saturday afternoons, before I went to the grocery store with her and my Auntie Pat, when I would sit at the little yellow kitchen table and watch her take pleasure in every bite while she would ask me questions about what I did during the week.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

An Eye For An Eye

Proust had a sharp eye when it came to descriptions of people, flowers, churches, and mannerisms. Below is a scene where Marcel and his father are walking back from church on Sunday and pass by their friend, Legrandin, who is enraptured by a ladyfriend he is walking with:

"He passed close to us, did not break off his conversation with his neighbor, and from the corner of his blue eye gave us a little sign that was in some way interior to his eyelid and which, not involving the muscles of his face, could go perfectly unnoticed by the lady he was talking to; but seeking to compensate by intensity of feeling for the somewhat narrow field in which he had circumscribed its expression, in the azure corner assigned to us he set sparkling all the liveliness of a grace that exceeded playfulness, bordered on mischievousness; he overrefined the subtleties of amiability into winks of connivance, insinuations, innuendos, the mysteries of complicity; and finally exalted his assurances of friendship into protestations of affection, into a declaration of love, illuminating for us alone at that moment, with a secret languor invisible to the lady, a love-smitten eye in a face of ice." (pg 128)

Like the stroke of a painter's brush, Proust takes us from one detail to the other with the intesity of his senses. As mentioned in a previous posting, I feel Proust could work in Storyspace because sentences like these have the energy to break off into several different areas. For example, I could break off from his description of "winks of connivance, insinuations, innuendos," and create a box in Storyspace that explains the looks lovers give to one another when they first meet and become intimate. Or I might break off from the end of this sentence and create a box in Storyspace that has a short story on how eyes give a person away, such as the time when a stranger walked down my dormitory hall and I shivered with fear as he looked at me, so I quickly went into my room and locked the door. At 4:00 a.m. the next morning the campus police knocked on my door and reported there had been a rape on my floor and did I see anyone who looked suspicious walking around.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Proust's Beginnings


Where Proust Grew Up - Combray, Italy Posted by Hello


Proust's mother was very steeped in the Jewish religion, so as a result, he writes much about the church he attended in Combray--with an emphasis on its steeple and how it towered over the rooftops:

".....with the effort the steeple was making to hurl its spire into the heart of the sky; it was always to the steeple that we had to return, always the steeple that dominated everything, summing up the houses with an unexpected pinnacle, raised before me like the finger of God, whose body might be hidden in the crowd of humans, though I would not confuse it with them because of that.......(pg 68)
Then I did not ask myself as at Chartres or Rheims how powerfully it expressed religious feeling, but involuntarily exclaimed: The church! The church!" (pg 63)

Again, with long sentences, Proust easily leads his reader to absorb both the beauty and power that the church beholds.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Proust in Hypertext?



Seems to me that I'm seeing a "link" between Proust's stream-of-consciousness writing and the Storyspace exercise we did last week. After I created "spaces" for my story, then began to draw the lines between the spaces as to which ones related to which---I thought of Proust when he wrote about having tea and a madelaine cake. The "act" of eating and drinking was in the present, but it took him back to when he used to share tea and cake with his grandmother before mass every Sunday. This thought took him back to several boyhood memories about spending the summers in Combray at his grandmother's farm.
I thought about how Proust could recreate this part of his story in "Swann's Way" in Storyspace. Actually, I would say that Proust was hypertext ready!!! His stream-of-consciousness writing is based on non-linearity, since one sentence seems to "link" to worlds of possiblities for other stories and thoughts he had in his past.


Hey all you Proust fans, what do you think of this new "view" of his literary work?

Thursday, April 28, 2005

A Writer's Thoughts on Writing


I just had to share this piece from Swann's Way as I'm always fascinated by what great writers thought about their craft. Hemingway did this in many of his novels--revealed his ideas and opinions through his characters.
The scene below takes place in Proust's garden at Combray, where he is mentally commenting on a book he is reading by one of his favorite authors, Bergotte.
Enjoy!!

"And once the novelist has put us in that state, in which, as in all purely internal states, every emotion is multiplied tenfold, in which his book will disturb us as might a dream but a dream more lucid than those we have while sleeping and whose memory will last longer, then see how he provokes in us within one hour all possible happinesses and all possible unhappinesses just a few of which we would spend years of our lives coming to know and the most intense of which would never be revealed to us because the slowness with which they occur prevents us from perceiving them....." (pg. 87)

My First Attempt At Poetry



Well, here is my first crack at a short poem. I may go back and add, or change, as time marches on. Proust's stream-of-consciousness writing seemed, to me, at times ready to break out into a poem that could have easily complimented the story. Nature was always a part of the story in Swann's Way. Proust touched all five of my senses when it came to flowers, trees, and especially the sun. He had a keen eye on where light fell on the ground, how it came through a window, or how it was reflected off the wall;he spoke,too, of shadows from the sun and moon and how these were connected to the sadness in his life.
My poem starts out from a line in Swann's Way (which will be in quotes) and then my thoughts will continue from there

My Current Life

"Outdoors, too, things seemed frozen in silent attention
so as not to disturb the moonlight"
with its ribbon of light laid gently
on the water's surface.
Now the wind comes,
and the reflection of light seems to struggle
to free itself from the water's embrace.
No, it cannot.
It stays and becomes a thousand
twinkling lights on the lake.
It rides every ripple as do we
in the current of life.