Proust and Thomas Hardy


Proust as narrator in the fifth book of Lost Time, talks to Albertine about  genius in art.

"If it weren't so late, little one, I told her, I would show you this in all the authors you read when I am asleep...this geometry of the stone cutter in the novels of Thomas Hardy".

It shouldn't come as a surprise to me that one of my favourite writers, Proust, admired another of my favourite writers, Thomas Hardy. It seems that either Proust could speak and read English or that some of Thomas Hardy's novels had been translated into French.

"Remember the stone masons in Jude the obscure, in The well-beloved, the blocks of stone that the father extracts from the island, coming by boat to bring them to the son's studios where they will be turned into statues. In A pair of blue eyes, the parallel of the tombs and the parallel line of the boat, the successive wagons carrying the two lovers and death. The parallel between The well-beloved where the man loves three women and A pair of blue eyes where the woman loves three men etc. and finally all those novels superposable on one another like those houses vertically piled up on the stony ground of the island".

And Proust goes on talking about Stendhal's The red and the black, then about the artist Vermeer, and then about Dostoevsky, another one of my favourite writers and so many others.

LS, May 2022. 

#literature #Proust #Thomas_Hardy