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Top 500 Marcel Proust Quotes (2022 Update)
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Marcel Proust Quote: “What we feel is the only thing that exists for us, and we project it into the past, into the future, without letting ourselves be stopped by the fictitious barriers of death.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “We see things but we don’t see them, like things that slid through the mind, one flowing into another.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “Knowing a thing does not always mean preventing a thing, but at least the things we know, we hold, if not in our hands, at least in our minds where we can arrange them as we like, which gives us the illusion of a sort of power over them.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “May my life someday be so limpid that the Muses will deign to mirror themselves in it and that we can see the reflections of their smiles and their dances skimming across its surface.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “But when from a long-distant past nothing subsists, after the people are dead, after the things are broken and scattered, taste and smell alone, more fragile but more enduring, more unsubstantial, more persistent, more faithful, remain poised a long time, like souls, remembering, waiting, hoping, amid the ruins of all the rest; and bear unflinchingly, in the tiny and almost impalpable drop of their essence, the vast structure of recollection.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “Of these multiple impressions our memory is not capable of furnishing us with an immediate picture. But that picture gradually takes shape, and, with regard to works which we have heard more than once, we are like the schoolboy who has read several times over before going to sleep a lesson which he supposed himself not to know, and finds that he can repeat it by heart next morning.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “I had long since given up trying to extract from a woman as it were the square root of her unknown quantity, the mystery of which a mere introduction was generally enough to dispel.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “It is said that nothing in our lives is ever lost, that nothing can prevent its having been. That is why, so very often the weight of the past lies ineluctably upon the present. But that is why it is so real in memory, so wholly itself, so far beyond replacement.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “Dreams are not to be converted into reality, that we know; we would not form any, perhaps, were it not for desire, and it is useful to us to form them in order to see them fail and to be instructed by their failure.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “From the pavement, I could see the window of Albertine’s room, that window, formerly quite black, at night, when she was not staying in the house, which the electric light inside, dissected by the slats of the shutters, striped from top to bottom with parallel bars of gold.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “A man may have spent his life among the great ones of the earth, who to him have been merely boring relatives or tedious acquaintances because a familiarity engendered in the cradle had stripped them of all glamour in his eyes.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “A book is like a large cemetery upon whose tombs one can no longer read the effaced names. On the other hand, sometimes one remembers well the name, without knowing if anything of the being, whose name it was, survives in these pages.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “For the possession of what we love is an even greater joy than love itself.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “Yet a single sound, a single scent, already heard or breathed long ago, may once again, both in the present and the past, be real without being present, ideal without being abstract, as soon as the permanent and habitually hidden essence of things is liberated, and our true self, which may sometimes have seemed to be long dead, but never was entirely, is re-awoken and re-animated when it receives the heavenly food that is brought to it.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “But I consoled myself with the reflexion that in spite of everything she was for me the real point of intersection between reality and dream.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “A child who has been breathing since birth without ever noticing it does not know how essential the unheeded air that gently swells his chest is to his life. Does he happen to be suffocating in a convulsion, a bout of fever? Desperately straining his entire being, he struggles almost for his life, for his lost tranquillity, which he will regain only with the air from which he did not realize his tranquillity was inseparable.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “No doubt, having developed the habit, out of idleness, of each day putting off my work until the day after, I thought that death could be dealt with in the same way.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “Our cruellest adversaries are not those who contradict and try to convince us, but those who exaggerate or invent things that are liable to distress us, taking care not to present them in a justifiable light, which would diminish our distress and perhaps lead us to entertain some slight respect for an attitude they are anxious to display to us, to complete our torment, as being both hideous and unassailable.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “I loved her; I was sorry not to have had the time and the inspiration to insult her, to do her some injury, to force her to keep some memory of me.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “But since the facts which I should then have recalled would have been prompted only by an exercise of the will, by my intellectual memory, and since the pictures which that kind of memory shews us of the past preserve nothing of the past itself, I should never have had any wish to ponder over this residue of Combray.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “How often is not the prospect of future happiness thus sacrificed to one’s impatient insistence upon an immediate gratification.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “As with the future, it is not all at once but grain by grain that one savours the past.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “You’re as strong as the Pont Neuf. You’ll live to bury us all!”
Marcel Proust Quote: “The habit of thinking prevents us at times from experiencing reality, immunises us against it, makes it seem no more than any other thought.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “He had so long since ceased to direct his life toward any ideal goal, and had confined himself to the pursuit of quotidian satisfactions, that he had come to believe, though without ever formally stating his belief even to himself that he would remain all his life in that condition, which only death could alter.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “When one feels oneself smitten by love for a woman, one ought to say to oneself, ‘What are ‘her surroundings? What has been her life?’ All one’s future happiness lies in the answer.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “But in compensation for what our imagination leaves us wanting and we give ourselves so much unnecessary trouble in trying to find, life does give us something which we were very far from imagining.”
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: “Desiring a will was not enough. I would have needed precisely what I could not have without willpower: a will.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “If we press for a definition of what their admirers mean by the epithet, we shall find that it is generally applied to some unusual picture of a familiar object, a picture different from those that we are accustomed to see, unusual and yet true to nature, and for that reason doubly impressive to us because it startles us, makes us emerge from our habits and at the same time brings us back to ourselves by recalling to us an earlier impression.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “Mme. de Gallardon, who could never stop herself from sacrificing her greatest social ambitions and highest hopes of someday dazzling the world to the immediate, obscure, and private pleasure of saying something disagreeable.”
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: “But the absolute control over his facial muscles to which M. de Norpois had attained allowed him to listen without seeming to hear a word.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “A well-read man will yawn with boredom when one speaks to him of a new “good book,” as he imagines a sort of composite of all the good books he has read, whereas a good book is something special, unforeseeable, made up not of the sum of all previous masterpieces but of something which the most thorough assimilation of every one of them would not enable him to discover, since it exists not in their sum but beyond it.”
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: “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: “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: “Those exterminating angels known as Will and Thought were no longer present to drive the evil spirits of his senses and the vile emanations of his memory back into the darkness.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “Will it ultimately reach the clear surface of my consciousness, this memory, this old, dead moment which the magnetism of an identical moment has travelled so far to importune, to disturb, to raise up out of the very depths of my being? I cannot tell. Now that I feel nothing, it has stopped, has perhaps gone down again into its darkness, from which who can say whether it will ever rise?”
Marcel Proust Quote: “Our passions shape our books, repose writes them in the intervals.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “Unfortunately, in the social as in the political world, the victims are such cowards that one cannot for long remain indignant with their executioners.”
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: “In his younger days a man dreams of possessing the heart of the woman whom he loves; later, the feeling that he possesses the heart of a woman may be enough to make him fall in love with her.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “A fashionable milieu is one in which each person’s opinion is made up of everyone else’s opinions. Does each opinion run counter to everyone else’s? Then it is a literary milieu.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “Imagination, thought, may be admirable mechanisms but they can also be inert. Suffering alone sets them going.”
Marcel Proust Quote: “Her memory was a burning pillow which she kept turning and turning.”
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.”
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