Two for the Price of One

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.

Works of Charles Dickens

Works of Charles Dickens

 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?

2 comments on “Two for the Price of One

  1. Renee says:

    Congratulations on your two-fer!

    In case you didn’t know, the Schjeldahl comment on Vermeer has been reverberating on the Proust group/list at Yahoo [], with people looking at everything Vermeer ever painted yellow!

    Enjoy your blog. Thanks for writing!

    • marimann says:

      Thanks, Renee!

      I am a member of that Yahoo group and so have seen the discussion of Vermeer’s yellow wall (or not) going on there; I posted Schjeldahl’s quote there too, just to add a little fuel to that fire 🙂 But I also consulted Eric Karpeles’ book “Paintings in Proust” and on the page opposite the title page is a close-in detail of the far right side of View of Delft showing what looks to be yellow walls beneath sloping roofs. And so the debate rages on…

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