Swann’s Way, paragraph 30

My mother didn’t come, and holding nothing back to spare my feelings (which depended on her not denying the story of the search she was supposed to have asked me to tell her the result of) she had Françoise say to me these words: “There is no response,” which since then I’ve so often heard said by concierges at “luxury hotels” or footmen outside gambling houses, to address some poor girl standing there stunned: “What do you mean he said nothing?

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Swann’s Way, paragraph 29

I thought Swann would have mocked the anguish I’d just gone through if he’d read my letter and guessed its goal; but on the contrary, as I later learned, he’d been tormented long years of his life by a similar anguish, and perhaps no one could have understood me better; for him, this anguish was the sort we feel when it seems the being we love is in a pleasurable place apart from us, where we cannot reach her; it was love that acquainted him with anguish, love somehow predestined for anguish, love that seizes upon anguish and specializes in it.

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Swann’s Way, paragraph 28, part 2

My fear was that Françoise, my aunt’s cook, who was charged with my care when I was at Combray, would refuse to deliver my note. I suspected that for her, to run an errand to my mother when guests were present would seem as impossible as for the usher in a theater to deliver a letter to an actor mid-scene. When it came to things “done” or “not done,” Françoise possessed an imperious, extensive, subtle code, unyielding over elusive or baseless distinctions (which made it seem like those ancient laws that—alongside brutal punishments like the massacre of suckling infants—prohibit with exaggerated delicacy boiling a young goat in its mother’s milk, or eating the tendon from an animal’s thigh).

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Swann’s Way, paragraph 28, part 1

I didn’t take my eyes off my mother, for I knew when we were seated I wouldn’t be allowed to stay through all of dinner, and Maman, to avoid vexing my father, wouldn’t let me kiss her repeatedly in front of the guests, as if we were in my bedroom. So I promised myself in the dining room, as everyone started eating and I felt the hour approaching, to do in advance of this kiss, which would be so brief and furtive, the most I could manage on my own, to choose the precise place upon her cheek to aim my kiss, to gather my thoughts and, thanks to this mental preparation, consecrate the entire minute granted me with Maman to feeling her cheek against my lips, the way a painter who has limited sittings with a model must prepare his palette well, must go by memory and follow his notes to accomplish all he can while working alone.

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Swann’s Way, paragraph 27

But the only one of us for whom Swann’s arrival became the object of painful preoccupation was me. It was just that on nights when visitors were there, or simply Monsieur Swann, Maman wouldn’t come up to my room. I’d eat before everyone else, and afterward I’d go sit at the table until eight, when it was expected I’d go upstairs; I’d have to carry this precious, fragile kiss, which Maman usually gave me in my bed when I fell asleep, from the dining room to my own room and hold on to it the whole time I undressed, without its sweetness breaking, without its volatile essence dispersing and evaporating, and, on those very evenings when I’d have needed to receive it with far greater care, I had to seize it, I had to steal it suddenly, publicly, without even the time and presence of mind necessary to pay what I was doing the attention that maniacs do when they try not to think of anything else while they close a door, so that, when pathological uncertainty comes over them again, they can victoriously fight it off with the memory of the moment when they closed it.

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Swann’s Way, paragraph 26

They were more interested when the day before Swann was due to come to dinner, and he’d personally had a case of Asti sent to them, my aunt—holding an issue of Figaro where beside the name of a painting in an exhibition of Corot were these words: “From the collection of Monsieur Charles Swann”—said to us, “Did you see that Swann has a credit in Figaro?”—“Well, I always told you he has a great deal of taste,” said my grandmother.

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Swann’s Way, paragraph 25

But one day, my grandfather read in a paper that Monsieur Swann was among the most frequent Sunday luncheon guests at the home of the Duke of X——, whose father and uncle had been leading statesmen of Louis-Philippe’s reign. Now, my grandfather was curious about all the little facts that could help him understand the private world of men such as Molé, or the Duke Pasquier, or the Duke of Broglie.

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Swann’s Way, paragraph 24

Now, the remark about Swann didn’t elevate him in my great aunt’s mind, but rather lowered Madame de Villeparisis. It seemed that the consideration we granted the lady, on account of my grandmother, obliged her to do nothing that would make her unworthy, and she’d failed in this duty by knowing of Swann’s existence, by allowing some family members to keep company with him. “How on earth would she know Swann?

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Swann’s Way, paragraph 23

Yet one day when my grandmother went to ask a favor from a lady she’d known at Sacred Heart (with whom, because of our concept of castes, she hadn’t wanted to maintain a connection, despite their mutual sympathy), the Marquise de Villeparisis, of the well-known Bouillon family, the lady said to her: “I believe you often see Monsieur Swann, who is a great friend of my nephew and niece the des Laumes.

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Swann’s Way, paragraph 22

We wouldn’t hesitate to send to him anytime we needed a recipe for sauce gribiche or pineapple salad for fancy dinners we didn’t invite him to, not thinking him prestigious enough company to be useful to acquaintances visiting for the first time. If the conversation turned to the princes of the House of France: “People we’ll never know, and you’ll never know, and we don’t need them, do we,” said my great aunt to Swann, who’d perhaps have in his pocket a letter from Twickenham; she’d make him wheel out the piano and turn the pages on evenings when my grandmother’s sister sang, treating this being, elsewhere so sought-after, with the naive roughness of a child who handles a fine collectible no more carefully than an object from a dime store.

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