11 January 2008

A school for disenchantment

Looking at Modernism: the Lure of Heresy from Baudelaire to Beckett and Beyond by Peter Gay, I came across this passage in a discussion of Proust and what Proust called "the intermittences of the heart":

The expression tersely epitomises one of Proust's most disheartening, and most irresistible, conclusions about the vicissitudes of existence: the human heart fails when its endurance and judgement are most needed. Life is many things, to be sure, but most conspicuously it adds up to a vast array of mistakes, of mismatches, of sentiments out of phase with realities, of experiences not reflected in feelings. We get experiences wrong; everyone gets experiences wrong... Life therefore, is a perpetual act of revising, of correcting, what we think we know; it is a school for disenchantment.

Somehow I think Michael Leddy might agree.

1 comment:

Michael Leddy said...

Yes, revising, correcting, realizing perhaps years later the real shape of a situation or relationship, the real intention behind an action or word, another's or one's own -- that's what Proust shows life to be about, and I think it's what happens, again and again, as time goes by. Given the way In Search of Lost Time ends though, I couldn't agree that Proust's emphasis is on life as disheartening or disenchanting.

I gotta read this book.