Moments from Proust IV

“The Baron Laughs


Fran├žoise Starts Again”

Albumleaf 186: December 3, 2021 (Bologna)

M. de Charlus, with a tolerant, genial, insolent smile, replied: “Why, that’s not of the slightest importance, here!” And he gave a little laugh that was all his own–a laugh that came down to him probably from some Bavarian or Lorraine grandmother, who herself had inherited it, in identical form, from an ancestress, so that it had tinkled now, unchanged, for a good many centuries in little old-fashioned European courts, and one could appreciate its precious quality, like that of certain old musical instruments that have become very rare.

Marcel Proust
Sodom and Gomorrah, p. 394
Translation: C.K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin

“After we’ve beaten them” [said Fran├žoise] “we won’t allow one Englishman into France unless he pays three hundred francs admission, as we have to pay now to land in England.”

Such was, in addition to great decency and civility and, when they were talking, an obstinate refusal to allow any interruption, going back time and time again to the point they had reached if one did interrupt them, thus giving their talk the unshakeable solidity of a Bach fugue, the character of the inhabitants of this tiny village which did not boast five hundred, set among its chestnuts, its willows, and in fields of potatoes and beetroot.

Sodom and Gomorrah, p. 147