Proust’s Madeleine – An illustration of “À la Recherche du temps perdu”

A watercolour illustrating the most iconic passage in the seemingly endless and endlessly beautiful collection and analysis of memories that is Marcel Proust’s multi-volume novel, “À la Recherche du temps perdu” (“In Search of Lost Time”).

“Et tout d’un coup le souvenir m’est apparu. Ce goût c’était celui du petit morceau de madeleine que le dimanche matin à Combray […] ma tante Léonie m’offrait après l’avoir trempé dans son infusion de thé ou de tilleul. La vue de la petite madeleine ne m’avait rien rappelé avant que je n’y eusse goûté […]. Mais, quand d’un passé ancien rien ne subsiste, après la mort des êtres, après la destruction des choses, seules, plus frêles mais plus vivaces, plus immatérielles, plus persistantes, plus fidèles, l’odeur et la saveur restent encore longtemps, comme des âmes, à se rappeler, à attendre, à espérer, sur la ruine de tout le reste, à porter sans fléchir, sur leur gouttelette presque impalpable, l’édifice immense du souvenir.

Et dès que j’eus reconnu le goût du morceau de madeleine trempé dans le tilleul que me donnait ma tante […] aussitôt la vieille maison grise sur la rue, où était sa chambre, vint comme un décor de théâtre […] et avec la maison, la ville, la Place où on m’envoyait avant déjeuner, les rues où j’allais faire des courses depuis le matin jusqu’au soir et par tous les temps, les chemins qu’on prenait si le temps était beau […] et les nymphéas de la Vivonne, et les bonnes gens du village et leurs petits logis et l’église et tout Combray et ses environs, tout cela qui prend forme et solidité, est sorti, ville et jardins, de ma tasse de thé.”

“And suddenly the memory revealed itself. The taste was that of the little piece of madeleine which on Sunday mornings at Combray (because on those mornings I did not go out before mass), when I went to say good morning to her in her bedroom , my aunt Léonie used to give me, dipping it first in her own cup of tea or tisane. The sight of the little madeleine had recalled nothing to my mind before I tasted it; […] 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.

And as soon as I had recognized the taste of the piece of madeleine soaked in her decoction of lime-blossom which my aunt used to give me […] immediately the old grey house upon the street, where her room was, rose up like a stage set […] and with the house the town, from morning to night and in all weathers, the Square where I used to be sent before lunch, the streets along which I used to run errands, the country roads we took when it was fine […] the water-lilies on the Vivonne and the good folk of the village and their little dwellings and the parish church and the whole of Combray and its surroundings, taking shape and solidity, sprang into being, town and gardens alike, from my cup of tea.” 

-Translation by C. K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin

This entry was posted in bande dessinée, illustration, montreal, painting, watercolour and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Proust’s Madeleine – An illustration of “À la Recherche du temps perdu”

  1. Norma Buddle says:

    a very apt illustration spot on

    Like

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