You may already know that Marcel Proust is my favorite author. Hence, this blog and my website, Madeleine Moments. But do you know who my second favorite is? I’ll give you a hint: his pen name was Boz. Need another hint?
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”
Yes, Charles Dickens. The picture below is an 1873 set of Dickens’ works (all but 2 or 3 volumes which we have since acquired) which I read, in order of Boz having written them, one after the other. It took me just over one year.
So yesterday was my lucky day, because I had a Proust sighting and a Dickens sighting in the same sentence! How’s that for excitement?? You’re overwhelmed, I can tell, as I was. And it was in my favorite magazine- can you guess? I won’t make you guess- it’s the New Yorker, the September 21st issue, to be exact, in Caleb Crain’s article entitled “It Happened One Decade: What the Great Depression did to culture”.
Here’s the sentence:
“(Dickstein) praises Henry Roth’s ‘Call it Sleep’ (1934) for its Dickensian polyphony of voices and Proustian sensibility.”
Dickensian and Proustian. Doesn’t get any better than that.
Bonus Proust sighting:
Peter Schjeldahl in the Sept. 21st issue of The New Yorker:
“…the ailing writer Bergotte weighed the value of his life against that of a ‘little patch of yellow wall, with a sloping roof’ in Johannes Vermeer’s “View of Delft”…”
Schjeldahl goes on to say: “It happens to be erroneous. There is no yellow wall under a sloping roof in Vermeer’s cityscape. (There is a yellow sloping roof.) Scholars have earnestly debated what Bergotte saw, failing to consider that, like the rest of us, Proust had a lousy memory.”
For shame, Peter Schjeldahl. Where is your Proustian sensibility?