As a student reading Marcel Proust’s À La Recherche Du Temps Perdu in French (alternatively translated as either ‘Remembrance of Things Past’ or ‘In Search of Lost Time’) I wasn’t a huge fan. His prose seemed interminable, his pace so languid as to be virtually at a stand still. I couldn’t bear it!
The quote I’ve shared on my image is often attributed to Marcel Proust, but is actually a shortened paraphrasing of what he wrote. What he actually said, in his typically wordy way (and translated to English) was:
“The only true voyage of discovery, the only fountain of Eternal Youth, would be not to visit strange lands but to possess other eyes, to behold the universe through the eyes of another, of a hundred others, to behold the hundred universes that each of them beholds, that each of them is[.]”
One of the themes that ‘In Search of Lost Time’ explores is involuntary memory – that unbidden rising to the surface of a past recollection that is triggered without conscious intention by a random cue encountered in daily life.
For me, this happens most often in a rural setting when the light is just so; it has happened not just in England but in many other countries too. The ground is virtually glowing a rich yellow or lime green, the sky is a vivid azure blue or deep bruised purple, heavy with rain-clouds but still made bright by the strength of the sun…
Always, always, this transports me instantaneously to the open plains of the Mara-Serengeti, a savanna grassland in Kenya and Tanzania. It’s such a strong feeling that I have to stop myself scanning the horizon for a loping giraffe or plodding elephant!
I definitely prefer this shortened version of Proust’s message – it captures the essence without the woolliness of so many words.
On safari in the Maasai Mara, Kenya.
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