Top Proust Quotes

Browse top 57 famous quotes and sayings about Proust by most favorite authors.

Favorite Proust Quotes

1. "According to Proust, one proof that we are reading a major new writer is that his writing immediately strikes us as ugly. Only minor writers write beautifully, since they simply reflect back to us our preconceived notion of what beauty is; we have no problem understanding what they are up to, since we have seen it many times before. When a writer is truly original, his failure to be conventionally beautiful makes us see him, initially, as shapeless, awkward, or perverse. Only once we have learned how to read him do we realize that this ugliness is really a new, totally unexpected kind of beauty and that what seemed wrong in his writing is exactly what makes him great."
Author: Adam Kirsch
2. "Reading Proust nearly silenced Virginia Woolf. She loved his novel, but loved it rather too much. There wasn't enough wrong with it—a crushing recognition when one considers Walter Benjamin's assessment of why people become writers: because they are unable to find a book already written that they are completely happy with. And"
Author: Alain De Botton
3. "The only way to defend language is to attack it....' - Proust. Every good writer in history had, in order to ensure adequate expression, broken a range of rules laid down by previous writers."
Author: Alain De Botton
4. "It should not be Illiers-Combray that we visit: a genuine homage to Proust would be to look at our world through his eyes, not look at his world through our eyes."
Author: Alain De Botton
5. "Proust's is a long book, though, water- skiing permitting, you could get through it in the summer recess"
Author: Alan Bennett
6. "Penser, c'est réapprendre à voir, à être attentif, c'est diriger sa conscience, c'est faire de chaque idée et de chaque image, à la façon de Proust, un lieu privilégié"
Author: Albert Camus
7. "Creating is living doubly. The groping, anxious quest of a Proust, his meticulous collecting of flowers, of wallpapers, and of anxieties, signifies nothing else."
Author: Albert Camus
8. "If what Proust says is true, that happiness is the absence of fever, then I will never know happiness. For I am possessed by a fever for knowledge, experience, and creation."
Author: Anaïs Nin
9. "We write to heighten our own awareness of life. We write to lure and enchant and console others. We write to serenade our lovers. We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospection. We write, like Proust, to render all of it eternal, and to persuade ourselves that it is eternal. We write to be able to transcend our life, to reach beyond it. We write to teach ourselves to speak with others, to record the journey into the labyrinth. We write to expand our world when we feel strangled, or constricted, or lonely...When I don't write, I feel my world shrinking. I feel I am in prison. I feel I lose my fire and my color. It should be a necessity, as the sea needs to heave, and I call it breathing."
Author: Anaïs Nin
10. "Das Leben ist zu kurz und Proust zu lang..."
Author: Anatole France
11. "M. Proust was more severe than M. de Caillavet on Anatole France: "He was selfish and supercilious. He had read so much that he had left his heart in other people's books, and all that remained was dryness. One day I asked him how he came to know so much. He said, 'Not by being such a handsome young man as you. I wasn't in demand, and instead of going out I studied and learned'."
Author: Celeste Albaret
12. "What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? (Just to give you an idea, Proust's reply was 'To be separated from Mama.') I think that the lowest depth of misery ought to be distinguished from the highest pitch of anguish. In the lower depths come enforced idleness, sexual boredom, and/or impotence. At the highest pitch, the death of a friend or even the fear of the death of a child."
Author: Christopher Hitchens
13. "Kilmartin wrote a highly amusing and illuminating account of his experience as a Proust revisionist, which appeared in the first issue of Ben Sonnenberg's quarterly Grand Street in the autumn of 1981. The essay opened with a kind of encouragement: 'There used to be a story that discerning Frenchmen preferred to read Marcel Proust in English on the grounds that the prose of A la recherche du temps perdu was deeply un-French and heavily influenced by English writers such as Ruskin.' I cling to this even though Kilmartin thought it to be ridiculous Parisian snobbery; I shall never be able to read Proust in French, and one's opportunities for outfacing Gallic self-regard are relatively scarce."
Author: Christopher Hitchens
14. "Fragrance takes you on a journey of time. You can walk down the street and pass someone and get taken back 20 years. It's very Proustian that way."
Author: Daphne Guinness
15. "What a strange idea: "comfort food." Isn't every food comforting in its own way! Why are certain foods disqualified? Can't fancy food be soothing in the same way as granny food?" Must it always be about loaded memories, like Proust's madeleine? Or can it be merely quirky, like M. F. K. Fisher's tangerine ritual: she dried them on a radiator, then cooled them on her Paris windowsill. Comfort food—food that reassures—is dilferent things to dilferent people."
Author: David Tanis
16. "In my twenties if even a tenth reading of Mallarmé failed to yield up its treasures, the fault was mine, not his. If my eyes swooned shut while I read The Sweet Cheat Gone, Proust's pacing was never called into question, just my intelligence and dedication and sensitivity. And I still entertain these sacralizing preconceptions about high art. I still admire what is difficult, though I now recognize it as a "period" taste and that my generation was the last to give a damn. Though we were atheists, we were, strangely enough, preparing ourselves for God's great Quiz Show; we had to know everything because we were convinced we would be tested on it—in our next life."
Author: Edmund White
17. "Proust is a hero of mine. I read 'A la recherche' in one go, and I'm a very slow reader. It had an astonishing impact, reading it on my own and being my main company. I think Proust is the most intelligent person to ever have written a novel."
Author: Edward St Aubyn
18. "El pasado, decía Proust, no sólo es fugaz, es que no se mueve de sitio. Con París pasa lo mismo, jamás ha salido de viaje. Y encima es interminable, no se acaba nunca."
Author: Enrique Vila Matas
19. "After Proust, there are certain things that simply cannot be done again. He marks off for you the boundaries of your talent."
Author: Francoise Sagan
20. "I agree with Proust in this, he says, that books create their own silences in ways that friends rarely do. And the silence that grows palpable when one has finished a canto of Dante, he says, is quite different from the silence that grows palpable when one has reached the end of Oedipus at Colonus. The most terrible thing that has happened to people today, he says, is that they have grown frightened of silence. Instead of seeking it as a friend and as a source of renewal they now try in every way they can to shut it out... the fear of silence is the fear of loneliness, he says, and the fear of loneliness is the fear of silence. People fear silence, he says, because they have lost the ability to trust the world to bring about renewal. Silence for them means only the recognition that they have been abandoned... How can people find the strength to be happy if they are so terrified of silence?"
Author: Gabriel Josipovici
21. "In the literary machine that Proust's "In Search of Lost Time" constitutes, we are struck by the fact that all the parts are produced as asymmetrical sections, paths that suddenly come to an end, hermetically sealed boxes, noncommunicating vessels, watertight compartments, in which there are gaps even between things that are contiguous, gaps that are affirmations, pieces of a puzzle belonging not to any one puzzle but to many, pieces assembled by forcing them into a certain place where they may or may not belong, their unmatched edges violently forced out of shape, forcibly made to fit together, to interlock, with a number of pieces always left over."
Author: Gilles Deleuze
22. "One measures oncoming old age by its deepening of Proust, and its deepening by Proust. How to read a novel? Lovingly, if it shows itself capable of accomodating one's love; and jealously, because it can become the image of one's limitations in time and space, and yet can give the Proustian blessing of more life."
Author: Harold Bloom
23. "While you're playing yourself out in lonesome dissipation in front of a pinball machine, someone else might be reading through Proust. Still another might be engaged in heavy petting with a girlfriend at a drive-in theater showing of Paths of Courage. The one could well become a writer, witness to the age; the others, a happily married couple. Pinball machines, however, won't lead you anywhere.Just the replay light. Replay, replay, replay..."
Author: Haruki Murakami
24. "Jeg har alltid sagt at du ikke legger tilstrekkelig vekt på bifigurene. En roman skal ligne en gate full av ukjente, hvor to-tre personer man kjenner til bunns, går forbi. Ikke flere. Se på andre forfattere, som Proust - de visste å gjøre bruk av bifigurene. De bruker dem for å ydmyke hovedpersonene og gjøre dem mindre. Det finnes ikke noe mer helsebringende i en roman enn å gi heltene en slik leksjon i ydmykhet. Tenk på de små bondekonene i Krig og fred, de som krysser veien foran vognen til fyrst Andrej og ler. De er de første som ser ham, han snakker til dem, rett inn i ørene deres, og dermed løfter leserens blikk seg, nå blir det bare ett eneste ansikt, en eneste sjel."
Author: Irène Némirovsky
25. "Translation error is compounded by bias error. We distort others by forcing into them our preferred ideas and gestalts, a process Proust beautifully describes: We pack the physical outline of the creature we see with all the ideas we already formed about him, and in the complete picture of him which we compose in our minds, these ideas have certainly the principal place. In the end they come to fill out so completely the curve of his cheeks, to follow so exactly the line of his nose, they blend so harmoniously in the sound of his voice that these seem to be no more than a transparent envelope, so that each time we see the face or hear the voice it is our own ideas of him which we recognize and to which we listen."
Author: Irvin D. Yalom
26. "I know the secrets; I dig Joyce and Proust above Melville and Celine."
Author: Jack Kerouac
27. "My work comprises one vast book like Proust's except that my remembrances are written on the run instead of afterwards in a sick bed."
Author: Jack Kerouac
28. "We've inherited many ideas about writing that emerged in the eighteenth century, especially an interest in literature as both an expression and an exploration of the self. This development ? part of what distinguishes the "modern" from the "early modern" ? has shaped the work of many of our most celebrated authors, whose personal experiences indelibly and visibly mark their writing. It's fair to say that the fiction and poetry of many of the finest writers of the past century or so ? and I'm thinking here of Conrad, Proust, Lawrence, Joyce, Woolf, Kafka, Plath, Ellison, Lowell, Sexton, Roth, and Coetzee, to name but a few ? have been deeply autobiographical. The link between the life and the work is one of the things we're curious about and look for when we pick up the latest book by a favorite author."
Author: James Shapiro
29. "That's it then. This is how it ends. I haven't even read Proust."
Author: James Turner
30. "My mother was right: When you've got nothing left, all you can do is get into silk underwear and start reading Proust."
Author: Jane Birkin
31. "I wonder what Proust would have made of our present-day locus of collective fantasy, the Internet. I'm guessing he would have seized on its wistful aspect, pointing out gently and with wry humor that much of what beguiles us is the act of reaching for what isn't there."
Author: Jennifer Egan
32. "Thousands and thousands of books are thrown on the market every yearpresenting some new variant of the personal romance, some tale of the vacillationsof the melancholic or the career of the ambitious. The heroine of Proust requiresseveral finely-wrought pages in order to feel that she does not feel anything. Itwould seem that one might, at least with equal justice, demand attention to aseries of collective historic dramas which lifted hundreds of millions of humanbeings out of nonexistence, transforming the character of nations and intrudingforever into the life of all mankind."
Author: Leon Trotsky
33. "The idea of some kind of objectively constant, universal literary value is seductive. It feels real. It feels like a stone cold fact that In Search of Lost Time, by Marcel Proust, is better than A Shore Thing, by Snooki. And it may be; Snooki definitely has more one-star reviews on Amazon. But if literary value is real, no one seems to be able to locate it or define it very well. We're increasingly adrift in a grey void of aesthetic relativism."
Author: Lev Grossman
34. "I believe in the theory that you should invert the genders in Proust - to me, it makes more sense like that, given that he was gay himself. . . . I promise you, it is a very common way to read the books, and has been much discussed. . . . You see how common it is? . . . it's pretty mainstream."
Author: Manny Rayner
35. "Andras Riedlmayer described a colleague who survived the siege of Sarajevo. In the winter, the scholar and his wife ran out of firewood, and so began to burn their books for heat and cooking. 'This forces one to think critically,' Riedlmayer remembered his friend saying. 'One must prioritize. First you burn old college textbooks, which you haven't read in thirty years. Then there are the duplicates. But eventually, you're forced to make tougher choices. Who burns today: Dostoevsky or Proust?' I asked Riedlmayer if his friend had any books left when the war was over. 'Oh yes,' he replied, his face lit by a flickering smile. 'He still had many books. Sometimes, he told me, you look at the books and just choose to go hungry."
Author: Matthew Battles
36. "Proust is famous for his rhapsodies on hawthorns but his book has only three of these, whereas there are thirteen scenes in brothels, one especially detailed episode running to more than forty pages. Few critics mention the brothels but they are more fun than the hawthorns."
Author: Michael Foley
37. "Proust laat ook zien dat er geen betere manier om anderen te misleiden bestaat dan eerst jezelf te misleiden: 'Men liegt het hele leven door, met name tegen geliefden, en bovenal tegen de vreemdeling wiens minachting ons de meeste pijn zou doen: zichzelf."
Author: Michael Foley
38. "The littlest thing can have the strongest connection when you're grieving. Your Proustian, poetic nerve is turned up to ten."
Author: Mike Mills
39. "Within five minutes of leaving the reunion, I'd undone the double wrapping and eaten all six rugelach, each a snail of sugar-dusted pastry dough, the cinnamon-lined chambers microscopically studded with midget raisins and chopped walnuts. By rapidly devouring mouthful after mouthful of these crumbs whose floury richness - blended of butter and sour cream and vanilla and cream cheese and egg yolk and sugar - I'd loved since childhood, perhaps I'd find vanishing from Nathan what, according to Proust, vanished from Marcel the instant he recognized "the savour of the little madeleine": the apprehensiveness of death. "A mere taste," Proust writes, and "the word 'death' ... [has] ... no meaning for him." So, greedily I ate, gluttonously, refusing to curtail for a moment this wolfish intake of saturated fat, but, in the end, having nothing like Marcel's luck."
Author: Philip Roth
40. "You're our Marcel Proust, Mr. Zuckerman."Zuckerman laughed. It wasn't exactly how he saw it."
Author: Philip Roth
41. "James Cain – faugh! Everything he touches smells like a billygoat. He is every kind of writer I detest, a faux naïf, a Proust in greasy overalls, a dirty little boy with a piece of chalk and a board fence and nobody looking. Such people are the offal of literature, not because they write about dirty things, but because they do it in a dirty way. Nothing hard and clean and cold and ventilated. A brothel with a smell of cheap scent in the front parlor and a bucket of slops at the back door. Do I, for God's sake, sound like that?"
Author: Raymond Chandler
42. "He [James Cain] is every kind of writer I detest...a Proust in greasy overalls, a dirty little boy with a piece of chalk and a board fence and nobody looking."
Author: Raymond Chandler
43. "The only real voyage consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes; in seeing the universe through the eyes of another, one hundred others-in seeing the hundred universes that each of them sees. Marcel Proust, translated by Kiyotesong"
Author: Rob Brezsny
44. "Friendship, according to Proust, is the negation of that irremediable solitude to which every human being is condemned."
Author: Samuel Beckett
45. "Is there just one single love in a lifetime? Are all our lovers ? from the first to the last, including the most fleeting ? part of that unique love, and is each of them merely an expression of it, a variation, a particular version? In the same way that in literature there is just one true masterpiece to which different writers give a particular form (taking the twentieth century alone: Joyce, who explores everything happening inside his character;s head with microscopic precision; Proust, for whom the present is merely a memory of the past; Kafka, who drifts on the margins between dream and reality; the blind Borges, probably the one I relate to best, etc)."
Author: Sijie Dai
46. "Wall of lies?' Proust muttered. ‘Is that the one that borders the orchard of obsession that contains the tree of lunacy?"
Author: Sophie Hannah
47. "Great works of art in all cultures succeed in capturing within the constraints of their form both the pathos of anguish and a vision of its resolution. Take, for example, the languorous sentences of Proust or the haiku of Basho, the late quartets and sonatas of Beethoven, the tragicomic brushwork of Sengai or the daunting canvases of Rothko, the luminous self-portraits of Rembrandt and Hakuin. Such works achieve their resolution not through consoling or romantic images whereby anguish is transcended. They accept anguish without being overwhelmed by it. They reveal anguish as that which gives beauty its dignity and depth."
Author: Stephen Batchelor
48. "Pop music can get inside us and enter our memory bubbles. It provides those true Proustian moments, unlocking sensations, unlocking our imaginations. Music inspired me as a filmmaker."
Author: Todd Haynes
49. "Thackeray's a good writer and Flaubert is a great artist. Trollope is a good writer and Dickens is a great artist. Colette is a very good writer and Proust is a great artist. Katherine Anne Porter was an extremely good writer and Willa Cather was a great artist."
Author: Truman Capote
50. "Ever since the days when such formidable mediocrities as Galsworthy, Dreiser, Tagore, Maxim Gorky, Romain Rolland and Thomas Mann were being accepted as geniuses, I have been perplexed and amused by fabricated notions about so-called "great books." That, for instance, Mann's asinine "Death in Venice," or Pasternak's melodramatic, vilely written "Dr. Zhivago," or Faulkner's corn-cobby chronicles can be considered "masterpieces" or at least what journalists term "great books," is to me the sort of absurd delusion as when a hypnotized person makes love to a chair. My greatest masterpieces of twentieth century prose are, in this order: Joyce's "Ulysses"; Kafka's "Transformation"; Bely's "St. Petersburg," and the first half of Proust's fairy tale, "In Search of Lost Time."
Author: Vladimir Nabokov

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You can't make up anything anymore. The world itself is a satire. All you're doing is recording it."
Author: Art Buchwald

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