translated as On Art and Literature

ut when all is said, it is only the inexpressible, the thing one believes one cannot succeed in getting into a book, that remains in it. It is something vague and haunting, like a memory. It is atmospheric ... a colouring in the air like the bloom on a grape. If we have not felt it, this inexpressible thing, we flatter ourselves that our work is as good as the work of those who feel it ... But it is not in the words, it is not said, it is all among the words, like the morning mist at Chantilly."
translated as Remembrance of Things Past
by C.K. Scott Montcrieff

nd soon, mechanically, dispirited after a dreary day with the prospect of a depressing morrow, I raised to my lips a spoonful of the tea in which I had soaked a morsel of the cake. No sooner had the warm liquid mixed with the crumbs touched my palate than a shiver ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses, something isolated, detached, with no suggestion of its origin. And at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory - this new sensation having had the effect, which love has, of filling me with a precious essence; or rather this essence was not in me, it was me. I had ceased now to feel mediocre, contingent, mortal. Whence could it have come to me, this all too powerful joy? I sensed that it was connected with the taste of the tea and the cake, but that it infinitely transcended those savours, ...
     I put down the cup and examine my own mind. It alone can discover the truth. But how? What an abyss of uncertainty, whenever the mind feels by itself; when it, the seeker, is at the same time the dark region through which it must go seeking and where all its equipment will avail it nothing. Seek? : create. ..."

t has been said that silence is a force; in another and wildly different sense it is a tremendous force in the hands of those who are loved ... Nothing so tempts us to approach another person as what is keeping us apart; and what barrier is there so insurmountable as silence? ... An immaterial enclosure I admit, but impenetrable, this interposed slice of empty atmosphere through which, despite its emptiness, the visual rays of the abandoned lover cannot pass. Is there a more terrible illumination than that of silence which shews us not one absent love, but a thousand, and shews us each of them in the act of indulging some fresh betrayal ...?"