One of Proust’s most compelling pieces of personal rapportage occurs in a Figaro article entitled ‘Impressions de route en automobile’.1 The article was later incorporated in the section of Pastiches et Mélanges headed ‘En Mémoire des Eglises Assassinées’, where it appears in the guise of a muted protest against the secularisation of redundant cathedrals proposed by the anticlerical deputy Aristide Briand. Proust felt this plan to be a threat to the living texture of French ecclesiastical life, not something in which he himself had ever taken much part, but which in his more sentimental moments he felt to embody part of the pageantry of old France. The article’s origins, though, lie in personal biography: a visit to the cathedral at Lisieux made in May 1907 during Proust’s reconnoitring of the countryside south of Cabourg with his beloved secretary and chauffeur Agostinelli sitting at the wheel, goggled, scarf streaming in the breeze. The description is somewhat reminiscent of that other passage in Sodome et Gomorrhe in which the narrator and Albertine, possessed for once with the use of a car, explore the churches of the countryside around Balbec — Albertine to sketch them, the narrator to accompany her.
KeywordsFatigue Dust Steam Amid Assure
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- 2.George D. Painter, Marcel Proust: A Biography, 2nd edn (London: Chatto & Windus, 1989) vol. I, p. 271.Google Scholar
- 5.Gérard Genette, Figures III (Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1972) pp. 152–3.Google Scholar
- 6.Heather Henderson, The Victorian Self: Autobiography and Biblical Narrative (Ithaca, NY and London: Cornell University Press, 1989) pp. 85–88.Google Scholar
- 7.Edmund Gosse, Father and Son: A Study of Two Temperaments (London: Heinemann, 1907) pp. 33–4. For a discussion of such typologies in Gosse, again see Henderson, The Victorian Self, pp. 117–59Google Scholar