18 Jun 2013

§13/14 After dinner, if storming, grandmother rejoices outside. Proust. Du coté chez swann (Swan's Way). Part 1, Combray

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After dinner, if storming, grandmother rejoices outside

Marcel Proust

Du coté chez swann. A la recherche du temps perdu. Tome I

Swan's Way. Vol. 1 of Remembrance of Things Past

Première partie




§13 / §14

Brief summary:

After dinner there would be chatting outside or inside depending on the weather, but grandmother would go out in the rain and even rejoice under a storm.


Previously the narrator described how the magic lantern shows projected on his bedroom wall unsettled his sense of the distinction between dream-like fantasy and everyday reality, and then his viewings would be interrupted by the call to dinner, which returned him to normal life.

After dinner the adults would chat either outside or inside depending on the weather (with the exception of his grandmother who would go out even in the rain). His father would send him to his room to read a book, while checking the barometer as his mother admiringly observes. His grandmother would love to go out in the storms and rejoice in their refreshing power, despite appearing out of her mind and getting her clothes muddy.

From the English translation:


But after dinner, alas, I was soon obliged to leave Mamma, who stayed talking with the others, in the garden if it was fine, or in the little parlour where everyone took shelter when it was wet. Everyone except my grandmother, who held that “It is a pity to shut oneself indoors in the country,” and used to carry on endless discussions with my father on the very wettest days, because he would send me up to my room with a book instead of letting me stay out of doors. “That is not the way to make him strong and active,” she would say sadly, “especially this little man, who needs all the strength and character that he can get.” My father would shrug his shoulders and study the barometer, for he took an interest in meteorology, while my mother, keeping very quiet so as not to disturb him, looked at him with tender respect, but not too hard, not wishing to penetrate the mysteries of his superior mind. But my grandmother, in all weathers, even when the rain was coming down in torrents and Françoise had rushed indoors with the precious wicker armchairs, so that they should not get soaked — you would see my grandmother pacing the deserted garden, lashed by the storm, pushing back her grey hair in disorder so that her brows might be more free to imbibe the life-giving draughts of wind and rain. She would say, “At last one can breathe!” and would run up and down the soaking paths — too straight and symmetrical for her liking, owing to the want of any feeling for nature in the new gardener, whom my father had been asking all morning if the weather were going to improve — with her keen, jerky little step regulated by the various effects wrought upon her soul by the intoxication of the storm, the force of hygiene, the stupidity of my education and of symmetry in gardens, rather than by any anxiety (for that was quite unknown to her) to save her plum-coloured skirt from the spots of mud under which it would gradually disappear to a depth which always provided her maid with a fresh problem and filled her with fresh despair.

From the French:


Après le dîner, hélas, j’étais bientôt obligé de quitter maman qui restait à causer avec les autres, au jardin s’il faisait beau, dans le petit salon où tout le monde se retirait s’il faisait mauvais. Tout le monde, sauf ma grand’mère qui trouvait que «c’est une pitié de rester enfermé à la campagne» et qui avait d’incessantes discussions avec mon père, les jours de trop grande pluie, parce qu’il m’envoyait lire dans ma chambre au lieu de rester dehors. «Ce n’est pas comme cela que vous le rendrez robuste et énergique, disait-elle tristement, surtout ce petit qui a tant besoin de prendre des forces et de la volonté.» Mon père haussait les épaules et il examinait le baromètre, car il aimait la météorologie, pendant que ma mère, évitant de faire du bruit pour ne pas le troubler, le regardait avec un respect attendri, mais pas trop fixement pour ne pas chercher à percer le mystère de ses supériorités. Mais ma grand’mère, elle, par tous les temps, même quand la pluie faisait rage et que Françoise avait précipitamment rentré les précieux fauteuils d’osier de peur qu’ils ne fussent mouillés, on la voyait dans le jardin vide et fouetté par l’averse, relevant ses mèches désordonnées et grises pour que son front s’imbibât mieux de la salubrité du vent et de la pluie. Elle disait: «Enfin, on respire!» et parcourait les allées détrempées,— trop symétriquement alignées à son gré par le nouveau jardinier dépourvu du sentiment de la nature et auquel mon père avait demandé depuis le matin si le temps s’arrangerait,— de son petit pas enthousiaste et saccadé, réglé sur les mouvements divers qu’excitaient dans son âme l’ivresse de l’orage, la puissance de l’hygiène, la stupidité de mon éducation et la symétrie des jardins, plutôt que sur le désir inconnu d’elle d’éviter à sa jupe prune les taches de boue sous lesquelles elle disparaissait jusqu’à une hauteur qui était toujours pour sa femme de chambre un désespoir et un problème.

Proust, Marcel. Du coté chez swann. A la recherche du temps perdu. Tome I.

Available online at:

Proust, Marcel. Swan's Way. Vol. 1 of Remembrance of Things Past.Transl. C.K. Scott Moncrieff
Available online at:

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