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Top 500 Marcel Proust Quotes (2023 Update)
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Marcel Proust Quote: “If the idea of death during this period had, as we have seen, cast a gloom over love, the memory of love had for a long time now helped me not to be afraid of death. For I understood that dying was not something new but quite the reverse, that since my childhood I had already died a number of times.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “In vain the young man gave him details of all his obscenities with his women, M. de Charlus was only struck by how little they amounted to. For that matter that was not only the result of insincerity, for nothing is more limited than vice. In that sense one can really use a common expression and say that one is always turning in the same vicious circle.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “Her memory was a burning pillow which she kept turning and turning.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “And continued to regard all their absurdities in the most rosy light through the admiring eyes of love.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “And it is perhaps one of the causes of our perpetual disappointments in love, this perpetual displacement whereby, in response to our expectation of the ideal person whom we love, each meeting provides us with a person in flesh and blood who yet contains so little trace of our dream.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “Let a prize lower my position, if it causes me to be read; that I prefer immediately to all the honors.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “For everyone who, having no artistic sense-that is to say, no submission to subjective reality-may have the knack of reasoning about art till doomsday, especially if he be, in addition, a diplomat or financier in contact with the ‘realities’ of the present day, is only too ready to believe literature is an intellectual game which is destined to gradually be abandoned as time goes on.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “It was like every attitude or action which reveals a man’s deep and hidden character; they bear no relation to what he has previously said, and we cannot confirm our suspicions by the culprit’s evidence, for he will admit nothing; we are reduced to the evidence of our own senses, and we ask ourselves, in the face of this detached and incoherent fragment of recollection, whether indeed our senses have not been the victims of a hallucination...”
Marcel Proust Quote: “We fear more than the loss of anything else the disappearance of possessions that have remained outside ourselves, because our hearts have not taken possession of them.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “Even when she had to make some one a present of the kind called ‘useful,’ when she had to give an armchair or some table-silver or a walking-stick, she would choose ‘antiques,’ as though their long desuetude had effaced from them any semblance of utility and fitted them rather to instruct us in the lives of the men of other days than to serve the common requirements of our own.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “Now, in one of those utterly physical moments, when the soul takes a backseat to the digesting stomach, the skin enjoying a recent ablution and some fine linen, the mouth smoking, the eyes reveling in bare shoulders and bright lights, he repeated his prayer more indolently, doubting a miracle that would upset the psychological law of his fickleness, which was as impossible to flout as the physical laws of weight or death.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “And then, while she was making them some orangeade, suddenly, just as when the reflector of a lamp that is badly fitted begins by casting all round an object, on the wall beyond it, huge and fantastic shadows which, in time, contract and are lost in the shadow of the object itself, all the terrible and disturbing ideas which he had formed of Odette melted away and vanished in the charming creature who stood there before his eyes.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “We reason, that is, our mind wanders, each time our courage fails to force us to pursue an intuition through all the successive stages which end in its fixation, in the expression of its own reality.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “Repeatedly, I dare say, when pretty girls went by, I had promised myself that I would see them again. As a rule, people do not appear a second time; moreover our memory, which speedily forgets their existence, would find it difficult to recall their appearance; our eyes would not recognise them, perhaps, and in the meantime we have seen new girls go by, whom we shall not see again either.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “If the theater is the refuge of the conversationalist whose friend is mute and whose mistress is insipid, then conversation, even the most exquisite, is the pleasure of men without imagination.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “More than anything else the viscount’s sad, sweet gaze made the boy feel like crying. Alexis knew that those eyes had always been sad and, even in the happiest moments, they seemed to implore a consolation for sufferings that he did not appear to experience. But at this moment Alexis believed that his uncle’s sadness, courageously banished from his conversation, had taken refuge in his eyes, which, along with his sunken cheeks, were the only sincere things about his entire person.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “We try to discover in things, which become precious to us on that account, the reflection of what our soul has projected on to them; we are disillusioned when we find that they are in reality devoid of the charm which they owed, in our minds, to the association of certain ideas; sometimes we mobilise all our spiritual forces in a glittering array in order to bring our influence to bear on other human beings who, we very well know, are situated outside ourselves where we can never reach them.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “And in the same way, again, are not the thoughts of men and women in the agony of death often turned towards the practical, painful, obscure, internal, intestinal aspect, towards that ‘seamy side’ of death which is, as it happens, the side that death actually presents to them and forces them to feel, a side which far more closely resembles a crushing burden, a difficulty in breathing, a destroying thirst, than the abstract idea to which we are accustomed to give the name of Death?”
Marcel Proust Quote: “My grandmother had a love which found in me so totally its complement, its goal, its constant lodestar, that the genius of great men, all the genius that might ever have existed from the beginning of the world, would have been less precious to my grandmother than a single one of my defects.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “With women who do not love us, as with the “dear departed,” the knowledge that there is no hope left does not prevent us from continuing to wait.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “In the V-shaped opening of her crape bodice Mlle. Vinteuil felt the sting of her friend’s sudden kiss;...”
Marcel Proust Quote: “There is in woman something of the unconscious function of drugs which are cunning without knowing it, like morphine.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “Robert was quite wrong in finding it extraordinary that lessons in worldly wisdom should be given to a young man by people who had done foolish things, or were still doing them.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “Imagination, thought, may be admirable mechanisms but they can also be inert. Suffering alone sets them going.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “She can’t have understood you: you are so utterly different from ordinary men. That’s what I liked about you when I first saw you; I felt at once that you weren’t like everybody else.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “The humanist, who read too much, ate too much. He quoted and burped, and these two complaints were equally repugnant to his neighbor, a self-made aristocrat, Madame Lenoir.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “I was not at all worried about finding my doctor boring; I expected from him, thanks to an art of which the laws escaped me, that he pronounce concerning my health an indisputable oracle by consulting my entrails.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “The two chief causes of error in our relations with another person are, having ourselves a good heart, or else being in love with the other person.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “I had indeed suffered successively through Gilberte, through Mme de Guermantes, through Albertine. Successively also I had forgotten them and only my love, dedicated at different times to different beings, had lasted.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “But what revealed to me all of a sudden the Princess’s love was a trifling incident upon which I shall not dwell here, for it forms part of quite another story, in which M. de Charlus allowed a Queen to die rather than miss an appointment with the hairdresser who was to singe his hair for the benefit of an omnibus conductor who filled him with alarm.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “Men who do their work intelligently and earnestly have an aversion to those who want to make literature out of what they do, to make it important.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “It is often simply from lack of creative imagination that we do not go far enough in suffering.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “They like my books better in England than in France; a translation would be very successful there.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “To tell the truth, I attached no importance to this possibility of hearing Berma which, a few years earlier, had plunged me in such a state of agitation. And it was not without a sense of melancholy that I realized the fact of my indifference to what at one time I had put before health, comfort, everything.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “The truth is that men can have several sorts of pleasure. The true pleasure is the one for which they abandon the other.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “No sooner does an approaching hour become the present for us than it sheds all its charms, only to regain them, it is true, on the roads of memory, when we have left that hour far behind us, and so long as our soul is vast enough to disclose deep perspectives.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “That girl whom I never saw save dappled with the shadows of their leaves, was to me herself a plant of local growth, only taller than the rest, and one whose structure would enable me to approach more closely than in them to the intimate savour of the land from which she had sprung.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “It was fortunate that I had not already yielded to the temptation to break with Albertine; the tedium of having to rejoin her presently, when I went home, was a trifling matter compared with the anxiety that I should have felt if the separation had occurred when I still had a doubt about her and before I had had time to grow indifferent to her.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “I never allow myself to be influenced in the smallest degree either by atmospheric disturbances or by the arbitrary divisions of what is known as Time.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “Her initial need to confide in someone arose from the first disappointments of her sensuality, emerging as naturally as the first satisfactions of love normally emerge. She had not as yet known love. A short time later she suffered from it, which is the only manner in which we get to know it.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “The young woman’s smiling lips met his caresses halfway, and her eyes shone in their depths like pools warmed by the sun.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “When our mistress is alive, a great part of the thoughts which form what we call our loves come to us during the hours when she is not by our side. Thus we acquire the habit of having as the object of our meditation an absent person, and one who, even if she remains absent for a few hours only, during those hours is no more than a memory. And so death does not make any great difference.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “I do find it absurd that a man of his intelligence should suffer over a person of that sort, who isn’t even interesting – because they say she’s an idiot,” she added with the wisdom of people not in love who believe a man of sense should be unhappy only over a person who is worth it; which is rather like being surprised that anyone should condescend to suffer from cholera because of so small a creature as the comma bacillus.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “Similarly, a little later on, the author will point out to us, among the crowd he describes, a “reactionary.” That is common enough designation today. But here, I ask Mr. Flaubert again: “A reactionary? How can you recognize one at a distance? Who told you? How do you know about it?” The author evidently is amusing himself, and all these characteristics are invented on a whim.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “But she was wrong; it was what gave her away; she had not taken into account that this fragmentary detail of the truth had sharp edges which could not be made to fit in, except to those contiguous fragments of the truth from which she had arbitrarily detached it, edges which, whatever the fictitious details in which she might embed it, would continue to shew, by their overlapping angles and by the gaps which she had forgotten to fill, that its proper place was elsewhere.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “The barriers of impossibility, which close off the field of reality to our dreams and desires, were shattered, and his thoughts drifted exuberantly through the unattainable, fired by their own movement.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “She tried to make her eyes seem tender; she did not know why, for no reason, for pleasure, the pleasure of charity, of a little vanity, and also gratuity, the pleasure of carving your name into a tree trunk for a passerby whom you will never see, the pleasure of throwing a bottle into the ocean.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “It is not because other people are dead that our affection for them grows faint, it is because we ourselves are dying.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “I did not distinguish the successive theories of which that uncertainty was composed any more than, when we watch a horse running, we isolate the successive positions of its body as they appear upon a bioscope. But.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “The contempt which my father had for my kind of intelligence was so far tempered by his natural affection for me that, in practice, his attitude towards anything that I might do was one of blind indulgence.”
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