“the true paradises are the paradises that we have lost.” – Time Regained

In Proust’s final volume, “Time Regained,” the narrator, Marcel, finally discovers the meaning of the taste of the little madeleine with which the novel began and which evoked memories of where he grew up – Combray. For so long he failed at beginning his art of writing, and now he discovers “the being within” that had enjoyed impressions such as of the madeleine, an “extra-temporal being” who no longer fears his own death: “This being had only come to me, only manifested itself outside of activity and immediate enjoyment, on those rare occasions when the miracle of an analogy had made me escape from the present. And only this being had the power to perform that task which had always defeated the efforts of my memory and my intellect, the power to make me rediscover days that were long past, the Time that was Lost.” It isn’t memory in the form of snapshots or even intellect that give power to the artist/writer – it is those impressions outside of time (for Marcel the taste of the little madeleine, the uneven paving-stones, the stiffness of the napkin), which link the past and the present and that generate our creative powers.

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