"There is probably not one person, however great his virtue, who cannot be led by the complexities of life's circumstances to a familiarity with the vices he condemns the most vehemently--without his completely recognizing this vice which, disguised as certain events, touches him and wounds him: strange words, an inexplicable attitude, on a given night, of the person whom he otherwise has so many reasons to love."
"The hedge [of hawthorns] formed a type of suite of chapels disappearing under the wall of their flowers heaped as on an altar; under them, the sun placed on the ground a grid of light, as if it had come through a glass window; their fragrance was as smooth and as clearly defined in its form as if I had stood before the Virgin's altar, and the flowers, so ornamented, each distractedly held its dazzling bouquet of stamens, fine and shining ribs of flamboyant style like those which in the church line the ramp of the rood-screen or the mullions of stained-glass windows and which bloomed into the white flesh of strawberry blossoms."
"... while the purely carnal sight of this woman, by perpetually renewing his doubts about the qualities of her face, her body, of all her beauty, weakened his love, these doubts were destroyed, his love was ensured when it was based instead on the elements of a more reliable aesthetic; furthermore, the kiss and the act of possession which seemed natural and mediocre if accorded him by withered flesh, now completing his veneration of a museum piece, had to promise, it seemed to him, supernatural and delicious pleasures."
"It seems that certain transcendental realities emit rays to which the masses are sensitive. That is how, for example, when an event takes place, when at the front an army is in danger, or defeated, or victorious, the rather obscure news which the cultivated man does not quite understand, excite in the masses an emotion which surprises him and in which, once the experts have informed him of the actual military situation, he recognizes the populace's perception of that "aura" surrounding great events and visible for hundreds of kilometers."
"Since the beginning of time, three-quarters of the mental energy and of the lies inspired by vanity have been expended for their inferiors by people who are only abased by such expenditure. And Swann, who was easygoing and unaffected with a duchess, trembled at the thought of being scorned and put on airs when he was with a housemaid."
"I was curious, I was avid to know only what I found more real than myself, that which allowed me to glimpse the thoughts of a great genius, or the force or grace of nature left to its own devices, without the intervention of man."
"At a certain age, we have already been struck by love; it no longer develops alone, according to its own mysteries and fateful laws while our hearts stand by startled and passive. We come to its assistance ... Recognizing one of its symptoms, we recall, we bring back to life the others. Since we possess its song engraved in its totality within us, we do not need for a woman to tell us the beginning--filled with admiration inspired by beauty--to find the continuation."
"I knew very well that this hope was chimerical. I was like a pauper who mingles fewer tears with his dry bread if he tells himselfthat at any moment a stranger will bequeath to him his fortune. We must all, in order to make reality more tolerable, keep alive in us a few little follies."
"For women who do not love us, as for the "disappeared", knowing that we no longer have any hope does not prevent us form continuing to wait. We live on our guard, on watch; women whose son has gone asea on a dangerous exploration imagine at any minute, although it has long been certain that he has perished, that he will enter, miraculously saved, and healthy."
"In times like ours, where the growing complexity of life leaves us barely the time to read the newspapers, where the map of Europehas endured profound rearrangements and is perhaps on the brink of enduring yet others, where so many threatening and new problems appear everywhere, you will admit it may be demanded of a writer that he be more than a fine wit who makes us forget in idle and byzantine discussions on the merits of pure form ..."
"A Carpaccio in Venice, la Berma in Phèdre, masterpieces of visual or theatrical art that the prestige surrounding them made so alive, that is so invisible, that, if I were to see a Carpaccio in a gallery of the Louvre or la Berma in some play of which I had never heard, I would not have felt the same delicious surprise at finally setting eyes on the unique and inconceivable object of so many thousands of my dreams."
"True variety is in that plenitude of real and unexpected elements, in the branch charged with blue flowers thrusting itself, against all expectations, from the springtime hedge which seems already too full, while the purely formal imitation of variety ... is but void and uniformity, that is, that which is most opposed to variety...."
"It is, after all, very interesting that sound can reflect like water, like a mirror. And notice that Vinteuil's phrase only showsme that to which I did not pay attention at the time. Of my worries, of my loves at that time, it does not recall a thing, it has made the exchange."
"As if the musicians did not so much play the little phrase as execute the rites required by it to appear, and they proceeded to the necessary incantations to obtain and prolong for a few instants the miracle of its evocation, Swann, who could no more see the phrase than if it belonged to an ultraviolet world ... Swann felt it as a presence, as a protective goddess and a confidante to his love, who to arrive to him ... had clothed the disguise of this sonorous appearance."
"Perhaps it is nothingness which is real and our dream which is non-existent, but then we feel think that these musical phrases, and the notions related to the dream, are nothing too. We will die, but our hostages are the divine captives who will follow our chance. And death with them is somewhat less bitter, less inglorious, perhaps less probable."