Swann's Way

Also known as:
Notes from Swann's Way
Reading Note Convention

This is the convention being followed for all reading notes exported after January 31, 2023 (and some previous exports):

KOReader/Exported Kindle Meaning
Lighten/Normal Yellow Quotables, concepts, and general ideas.
Underline Orange Further thought is required on this for clarity.
Highlighted/Bold Blue Something strikingly novel/Deeply moving/Highly thought-provoking.
Strikeout Pink In discord with this opinion.

Swann's Way

Marcel Proust

Chapter 1

Page: 29 (7.47%) @ 28 Sep 2023 02:06:28 PM

grandmother would go off again, sad, discouraged, yet smiling, for she was so humble at heart and so gentle that her tenderness for others, and the lack of fuss she made over her own person and her sufferings, came together in her gaze in a smile in which, unlike what one sees in the faces of so many people, there was irony only for herself, and for all of us a sort of kiss from her eyes, which could not see those she cherished without caressing them passionately with her gaze.

Quotable/Concept/General Idea

Page: 32 (8.25%) @ 28 Sep 2023 02:08:28 PM

My grandfather, who had not seen him for a long time, had rushed to his side at the estate the Swanns owned in the vicinity of Combray and, so that he would not be present at the coffining, managed to entice him for a while, all in tears, out of the death chamber. They walked a short way in the park, where there was a little sunshine. Suddenly M. Swann, taking my grandfather by the arm, cried out: “Oh, my old friend, what a joy it is to be walking here together in such fine weather! Don’t you think it’s pretty, all these trees, these hawthorns! And my pond—which you’ve never congratulated me on! You look as sad as an old nightcap. Feel that little breeze? Oh, say what you like, life has something to offer despite everything, my dear Amédée!”

Striking/Intense: Reminds me of Nazrul's son's death.

Page: 50 (12.89%) @ 28 Sep 2023 02:11:36 PM

And so, for the first time, my sadness was regarded no longer as a punishable offense but as an involuntary ailment that had just been officially recognized, a nervous condition for which I was not responsible; I had the relief of no longer having to mingle qualms of conscience with the bitterness of my tears, I could cry without sin.


Page: 57 (14.69%) @ 28 Sep 2023 02:12:58 PM

But, when nothing subsists of an old past, after the death of people, after the destruction of things, alone, frailer but more enduring, more immaterial, more persistent, more faithful, smell and taste still remain for a long time, like souls, remembering, waiting, hoping, upon the ruins of all the rest, bearing without giving way, on their almost impalpable droplet, the immense edifice of memory.

Thought Provoking

Chapter 2

Page: 59 (15.21%) @ 28 Sep 2023 02:14:22 PM

These were the sorts of provincial rooms which—just as in certain countries entire tracts of air or ocean are illuminated or perfumed by myriad protozoa that we cannot see—enchant us with the thousand smells given off by the virtues, by wisdom, by habits, a whole secret life, invisible, superabundant, and moral, which the atmosphere holds in suspension; smells still natural, certainly, and colored by the weather like those of the neighboring countryside, but already homey, human and enclosed, an exquisite, ingenious, and limpid jelly of all the fruits of the year that have left the orchard for the cupboard; seasonal, but movable and domestic, correcting the piquancy of the hoarfrost with the sweetness of warm bread, as lazy and punctual as a village clock, roving and orderly, heedless and foresightful, linen smells, morning smells, pious smells, happy with a peace that brings only an increase of anxiety and with a prosiness that serves as a great reservoir of poetry for one who passes through it without having lived in it.


Page: 72 (18.56%) @ 28 Sep 2023 02:16:01 PM

And even today, if in a large provincial town or a part of Paris I do not know well, a passing stranger who has “put me on the right path” shows me in the distance, as a reference point, some hospital belfry, some convent steeple lifting the peak of its ecclesiastical cap at the corner of a street I am supposed to take, if only my memory can obscurely find in it some small feature resembling the dear departed form, the stranger, if he turns around to make sure I am not going astray, may, to his astonishment, see me, forgetting the walk I had begun or the necessary errand, remain there in front of the steeple for hours, motionless, trying to remember, feeling deep in myself lands recovered from oblivion draining and rebuilding themselves; and then no doubt, and more anxiously than a short time before when I asked him to direct me, I am still seeking my path, I am turning a corner … but … I am doing so in my heart …


Page: 84 (21.65%) @ 28 Sep 2023 02:17:34 PM

There must have been a good deal of reality in those Virtues and Vices of Padua, since they seemed to me as alive as the pregnant servant, and since she herself did not appear to me much less allegorical. And perhaps this (at least apparent) nonparticipation of a person’s soul in the virtue that is acting through her has also, beyond its aesthetic value, a reality that is, if not psychological, at least, as they say, physiognomical. When, later, I had occasion to meet, in the course of my life, in convents for instance, truly saintly embodiments of practical charity, they generally had the cheerful, positive, indifferent, and brusque air of a busy surgeon, the sort of face in which one can read no commiseration, no pity in the presence of human suffering, no fear of offending it, the sort which is the ungentle face, the antipathetic and sublime face of true goodness.

Thought Provoking

Page: 136 (35.05%) @ 28 Sep 2023 02:01:22 PM

Perhaps there exists no one, however virtuous he may be, who may not be led one day by the complexity of his circumstances to live on familiar terms with the vice he condemns most expressly—without his fully recognizing it, moreover, in the disguise of particular details that it assumes in order to come into contact with him in that way and make him suffer: strange remarks, an inexplicable attitude, one evening, on the part of someone whom he has otherwise so many reasons for liking.

Thought Provoking

Page: 136 (35.05%) @ 28 Sep 2023 02:02:27 PM

Facts do not find their way into the world in which our beliefs reside; they did not produce our beliefs, they do not destroy them; they may inflict on them the most constant refutations without weakening them, and an avalanche of afflictions or ailments succeeding one another without interruption in a family will not make it doubt the goodness of its God or the talent of its doctor.

Thought Provoking

PART II - Swann in Love

Page: 185 (47.68%) @ 28 Sep 2023 10:49:13 AM

It even seemed, for a moment, that this love for a phrase of music would have to open in Swann the possibility of a sort of rejuvenation. He had for so long given up directing his life toward an ideal goal and limited it to the pursuit of everyday satisfactions that he believed, without ever saying so formally to himself, that this would not change as long as he lived; much worse, since his mind no longer entertained any lofty ideas, he had ceased to believe in their reality, though without being able to deny it altogether. Thus he had acquired the habit of taking refuge in unimportant thoughts that allowed him to ignore the fundamental essence of things.

Thought Provoking: A common pitfall.

Page: 295 (76.03%) @ 01 Oct 2023 02:09:44 AM

What had happened was that the violin had risen to a series of high notes on which it lingered as though waiting for something, holding on to them in a prolonged expectancy, in the exaltation of already seeing the object of its expectation approaching, and with a desperate effort to try to endure until it arrived, to welcome it before expiring, to keep the way open for it another moment with a last bit of strength so that it could come through, as one holds up a trapdoor that would otherwise fall back. And before Swann had time to understand, and say to himself: “It’s the little phrase from the sonata by Vinteuil; don’t listen!” all his memories of the time when Odette was in love with him, which he had managed until now to keep out of sight in the deepest part of himself, deceived by this sudden beam of light from the time of love which they believed had returned, had awoken and flown swiftly back up to sing madly to him, with no pity for his present misfortune, the forgotten refrains of happiness.

Thought Provoking

PART III - Place-Names: The Name

Page: 338 (87.11%) @ 01 Oct 2023 04:46:21 PM

we no longer love anyone else when we are in love

Thought Provoking

Page: 357 (92.01%) @ 01 Oct 2023 05:37:14 PM

But when a belief disappears, there survives it—more and more vigorous so as to mask the absence of the power we have lost to give reality to new things—a fetishistic attachment to the old things which our belief once animated, as if it were in them and not in us that the divine resided and as if our present lack of belief had a contingent cause, the death of the Gods.

Thought Provoking

Page: 359 (92.53%) @ 01 Oct 2023 05:41:33 PM

The places we have known do not belong solely to the world of space in which we situate them for our greater convenience. They were only a thin slice among contiguous impressions which formed our life at that time; the memory of a certain image is but regret for a certain moment; and houses, roads, avenues are as fleeting, alas, as the years.

Thought Provoking