Quotes from Proust XXXIII: To understand people and reveal them to themselves write a novel about them

The duty of writing my book took precedence now over that of being polite or even kind.

The internal timepieces which are allotted to different human beings are by no means synchronised: one strikes the hour of rest while another is striking that of work, one, for the judge, that of punishment when already for the criminal that of repentance and self-perfection has long since struck.

Was it not, surely, in order to concern myself with them that I was going to live apart from these people who would complain that they did not see me, to concern myself with them in a more fundamental fashion than would have been possible in their presence [by writing a book], to seek to reveal them to themselves, to realise their potentialities?

And it hurt me to think that I was obliged to look for them within myself, since Time which changes human beings does not alter the image which we have preserved of them. Indeed nothing is more painful than this contrast between the mutability of people and the fixity of memory, when it is borne in upon us that what has preserved so much freshness in our memory can no longer possess any trace of that quality in life, that we cannot now, outside ourselves, approach and behold again what inside our mind seems so beautiful, what excites in us a desire (a desire apparently so individual) to see it again, except by seeking it in a person of the same age, by seeking it, that is to say, in a different person.


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