Marcel Proust’s Slippers
Whatever damage the wicked do, the damage done
by respectable people is the most damaging damage.
FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE, Thus Spake Zarathustra
How tiring it is to be loved, truly loved! How tiring it
is to become the burden of others’ emotions! To load
with responsibilities like an errand-boy someone
who wanted to be free, always free … how tiring it is
to be obligated necessarily to feel something, in one
way or another, even to love a little as well, without
FRANÇOIS-AUGUSTE-RENÉ DE CHATEAUBRIAND
It is an extraordinary scene; it occurred in 1917 and has been commented upon many times. The young Emmanuel Berl visits Marcel Proust, whom he admires more than anyone, in order to tell him about a marvelous event. Sylvia, the young woman he [Berl] loves, and from whom he has not heard for four years, has replied positively to a letter in which he asked her to marry him. The young Berl is dying to prove to Proust that his pessimism regarding human nature is mistaken, that there are “souls in harmony.”1 But the novelist, for whom love is only a “hallucinatory onanism,”
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Publication information: Book title: The Paradox of Love. Contributors: Pascal Bruckner - Author, Steven Rendall - Translator. Publisher: Princeton University Press. Place of publication: Princeton, NJ. Publication year: 2012. Page number: 202.
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