Friday, December 29, 2006

Proust's first sentences

I love the first sentence of each volume of Proust's In Search of Lost Time. So here they all are, all together, in French and English (except for the French of Le temps retrouvé). They follow a rhythm - short, long, short, long, medium, short, long.

Du côté de chez Swann / Swann's Way

Longtemps, je me suis couché de bonne heure.

For a long time I would go to bed early.

À l'ombre des jeunes filles en fleur / Within a Budding Grove

Ma mère, quand il fut question d’avoir pour la première fois M. de Norpois à dîner, ayant exprimé le regret que le Professeur Cottard fût en voyage et qu’elle-même eût entièrement cessé de fréquenter Swann, car l’un et l’autre eussent sans doute intéressé l’ancien Ambassadeur, mon père répondit qu’un convive éminent, un savant illustre, comme Cottard, ne pouvait jamais mal faire dans un dîner, mais que Swann, avec son ostentation, avec sa manière de crier sur les toits ses moindres relations, était un vulgaire esbrouffeur que le Marquis de Norpois eût sans doute trouvé selon son expression, «puant».

My mother, when it was a question of our having M. de Norpois to dinner for the first time, having expressed her regret that Professor Cottard was away from home and that she herself had quite ceased to see anything of Swann, since either of these might have helped to entertain the ex-ambassador, my father replied that so eminent a guest, so distinguished a man of science as Cottard could never be out of place at a dinner-table, but that Swann, with his ostentation, his habit of crying aloud from the house-tops the name of everyone he knew, however slightly, was a vulgar show-off whom the Marquis de Norpois would be sure to dismiss as -- to use his own epithet -- a "pestilent" fellow.

Le côte de Guermantes / The Guermantes Way

Le pépiement matinal des oiseaux semblait insipide à Françoise.

The twittering of the birds at daybreak sounded insipid to Françoise.

Sodome et Gomorrhe / Sodom and Gomorrah

On sait que bien avant d’aller ce jour-là (le jour où avait lieu la soirée de la princesse de Guermantes) rendre au duc et à la duchesse la visite que je viens de raconter, j’avais épié leur retour et fait, pendant la durée de mon guet, une découverte, concernant particulièrement M. de Charlus, mais si importante en elle-même que j’ai jusqu’ici, jusqu’au moment de pouvoir lui donner la place et l’étendue voulues, différé de la rapporter.

The reader will remember that, well before going that day (the day on which the Princesse de Guermantes's reception was to be held) to pay the Duke and Duchess the visit I have just described, I had kept watch for their return and in the course of my vigil had made a discovery which concerned M. de Charlus in particular but was in itself so important that I have until now, until the moment when I could give it the prominence and treat it with the fullness that it demanded, postponed giving an account of it.

La prisonnière / The Captive

Dès le matin, la tête encore tournée contre le mur, et avant d’avoir vu, au-dessus des grands rideaux de la fenêtre, de quelle nuance était la raie du jour, je savais déjà le temps qu’il faisait.

At daybreak, my face still turned to the wall, and before I had seen above the big window-curtains what shade of colour the first streaks of light assumed, I could already tell what the weather was like.

Albertine disparue / The Fugitive

"Mademoiselle Albertine est partie!"

"Mademoiselle Albertine has gone!"

Le temps retrouvé /Time Regained

[I have been unable to locate the French text of this on the Internet; will add it later.]

I should have no occasion to dwell upon this visit which I paid to the neighborhood of Combray at perhaps the moment in my life when I thought least about Combray, had it not, precisely for that reason, brought me what was at least a provisional confirmation of certain ideas which I had first conceived along the Guermantes way, and also of certain other ideas which I had conceived on the Méséglise way.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Wowee Zowee

how do I start to talk about the Godlike genius of Pavement's Wowee Zowee (1995)? It often gets lost in my estimation as I constantly play Slanted and Enchanted, Crooked Rain, or Brighten the Corners but Wowee has so many virtues. Familiar Pavement preoccupations like architecture, despair, music, career, hotels, and money are evident, with complex, layered, and nuanced music. On a day when we pay tribute to James Brown and his, seemingly out of nowhere, coming up with an entire new style of music that reverberates in all popular musics, it's fitting to celebrate Pavement's complexity.

Pavement are often cited as being influenced by The Fall, and that's definitely here (complete with a "witch trials" reference), but with a good dollop of California sweetness.

I do look for new music to listen to, ever hopeful, but I don't find much.
The Over Friendly Concierge is a very nice Pavement site, very helpful for lyrics though it has a couple of mistakes -- it's "is the sedan he bought" in "Grounded", not "is this the den he bought" (and that reminds me, there used to be a wonderful site called "The Replacements Misheard Lyrics Page" - ou sont les web sites d'antan?)

Friday, December 15, 2006

Edel's Henry James

I have lately gotten a desire to read biographies. I recently read T.S. Eliot: An Imperfect Life by Lyndall Gordon, which I enjoyed. Now I am reading Henry James: A Life by Leon Edel, Edel's 1985 one-volume condensation of his five-volume James biography. It's very good. James knew everyone who was everyone. It's interesting to see which 19th-century authors have been forgotten (Paul Bourget?), which ones are remembered but not read today (Robert Louis Stevenson) and who shines brightly (Flaubert).