Thursday, January 25, 2007

Proust in the thrall of photography

Blog:Hotel Point

Brassaï, in a book call’d Marcel Proust sous l’emprise de la photographie, translated by Richard Howard as Proust in the Power of Photography (University of Chicago Press, 2001) (though my sense of it would be something more forceful—“under the hold of,” “gripped by,” “in the thrall of”) points to a veritable obsession and onslaught of pictures, “the sempiternal appearance of photographs” chez Proust. Thus André Maurois: “All his life Proust attached an extraordinary importance to the possession of a photograph. He kept a whole collection of them in his bedroom and would eagerly show them to his friend.” Thus “the young Jean Cocteau” (in 1910) “subjected to the ordeal-by-album” in the Boulevard Haussmann apartment where “there were two tables in the room, one, within arm’s reach of Proust’s bed, covered with bottles, notebooks, the other ‘piled with photos of tarts and duchesses, dukes and footmen employed in great houses.’ ”


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