top of page

Jean Santeuil

Marcel Proust

Top 10 Best Quotes

“Winter was come indeed bringing with it those pleasures of which the summer dreamer knows nothing—the delight when the fine and glittering day shows in the window, though one knows how cold it is outside; the delight of getting as close as possible to the blazing range which in the shadowy kitchen throws reflections very different from the pale gleams of sunlight in the yard, the range we cannot take with us on our walk, busy with its own activity, growling and grumbling as it sets to work, for in three hours time luncheon must be ready; the delight of filling one's bowl with steaming café-au-lait—for it is only eight o'clock—and swallowing it in boiling gulps while servants at their tasks come in and out with a, 'Good morning: up early, aren't you?' and a kindly, 'It's snug enough in here, but cold outside,' accompanying the words with that smile which is to be seen only on the faces of those who for the moment are thinking of others and not of themselves, whose expressions, entirely freed from egotism, take on a quality of vacillating goodness, a smile which completes that earlier smile of the bright golden sky touching the window-panes, and crowns our every pleasure as we stand there with the lovely heat of the range at our backs, the hot and limpid flavour of the café-au-lait in our mouths; the delight of night-time when, having had to get up to go shiveringly to the icy lavatory in the tower, into which the air creeps through the ill-fitting window, we later return deliciously to our room, feeling a smile of happiness distend our lips, finding it hard not to jump for sheer joy at the thought of the big bed already warm with our warmth, of the still burning fire, the hot-water bottle, the coverlets and blankets which have imparted their heat to the bed into which we are about to slip, walled in, embattled, hiding ourselves to the chin as against enemies thundering at the gates, who will not (and the thought brings gaiety) get the better of us, since they do not even know where we have so snugly gone to earth, laughing at the wind which is roaring outside, climbing up all the chimneys to every floor of the great house, conducting a search on each landing, trying all the locks: the delight of rolling ourselves in the blankets when we feel its icy breath approaching, sliding a little farther down the bed, gripping the hot-water bottle between our feet, working it up too high, and when we push it down again feeling the place where it has been still hot, pulling up the bedclothes to our faces, rolling ourselves into a ball, turning over, thinking—'How good life is!' too gay even to feel melancholy at the thought of the triviality of all this pleasure.”

“He imagined himself lying there, unable to sleep, thinking of his mother, separated from her by the unresponsive blankets tucked too tightly round him, feeling the ceaseless thumping of his heart in the silence of the night, the irrevocability of absence, the rigid stillness of repose, the agony of solitude and sleeplessness. If the room was a prison, the bed was a tomb.”

“For a young man has strong imagination but poor judgment, so that he imagines others to be as big as he is but considers himself to be very small. He has unbounded trust in the universe but is constantly unsure of himself.”

“When Jean and his mother left Etreuilles, Monsieur Sureau had gathered for them great boxfuls of hawthorn and of snowballs which Madame Santeuil had not the courage to refuse. But, as soon as Jean's uncle had gone home, she threw them away, saying that they already had more than enough in the way of luggage. And then Jean cried because he had been separated from the darling creatures which he would have liked to take with him to Paris, and because of his mother's naughtiness.”

“There is, following an ample meal, a sort of pause in time, filled with a gentle slackening of thought and energy, when to sit doing nothing gives us a sense of life's richness and a feeling that the least effort would be intolerable. The melancholy we took with us to table has disappeared and, if we think of it at all it is only to smile, as at some black mood now past, its cause having gone. And with the melancholy, all scruple, all remorse departs from us.”

“The wretchedness of ordinary life, endured so gaily when it is part of our normal existence, is made far worse when it comes as something new, and is exaggerated by the working of the imagination.”

“The woods, the vines, the very stones, were at one with the brightness of the sun and the unblemished sky, and even when the sky grew overcast, the multitude of leaves, as in a sudden change of tone, the earth of the roads, the roofs of the town, seemed as though caught up in the unity of a brand-new world. And all that Jean was feeling seemed without effort to chime with the surrounding oneness, and he was conscious of the perfect joy which is the gift of harmony.”

“Jean's desires, like those of all men in love, were concentrated on the impossible.”

“It is said that nothing in our lives is ever lost, that nothing can prevent its having been. That is why, so very often the weight of the past lies ineluctably upon the present. But that is why it is so real in memory, so wholly itself, so far beyond replacement.”

“Even his mother, his own mother, had once accused him of being a snob.”

Except where otherwise noted, all rights reserved to the author(s) of this book (mentioned above). The content of this page serves as promotional material only. If you enjoyed these quotes, you can support the author(s) by acquiring the full book from Amazon.

Book Keywords:

unsure, love, men-in-love, the-present, young-men, snob, the-past, imagination, a-good-meal, harmony, sadness, longing, warm-in-bed, doing-nothing, hawthorn-blossom, desires, mother, solitude, ordinary-life, absence, sleeplessness, winter, artistic-harmony, long-sentence, the-cold, memories, bed, melancholy

bottom of page