Sunday, July 10, 2011

Remembrance of Things Past

Those readers who know me realize I am a big fan of the Writer's Almanac. I receive it as a daily email, a practice I began when I missed the NPR segment too often. So now every day, I can start out with a literary bon mot to savor.

For example, today is Marcel Proust's birthday--July 10, 1871. And I know that because I read my Writer's Almanac. Two Proustian amusements I enjoy--one is the recurring reference to him in that charming independent movie of a few years back--Little Miss Sunshine. Steve Carell plays a very depressed scholar who fancies himself the number # 1 Proust scholar...until he learns of someone ELSE who is even more the # 1 Proust scholar.

The other is the title of Proust's most famous work--Remembrance of Things Past. At least that's how the title is rendered in English. Apparently, that title, though so well-known by most literature students, should have been rendered as In Search of Lost Time. I like Remembrance of Things Past better--maybe because that's what I feel I frequently do when I set out to write a blog.

For the purists, Proust's title in French is À la recherche du temps perdu. which I confess really does translate better into In Search of Lost Time. OK, whatever.

The other day, on the anniversary of the poet Shelley's birthdate (of which the Writer's Almanac reminded me), I went searching for a suitable Shelley poem to use on Facebook. I found the poem "
When the Lamp is Shattered."

Interesting how the themes in this poem seem to echo that search of lost time, or even remembrance of things past theme.

Herewith the opening stanza--the rest you can read by clicking on the link above:

When the lamp is shattered
The light in the dust lies dead—
When the cloud is scattered
The rainbow's glory is shed.
When the lute is broken,
Sweet tones are remembered not;
When the lips have spoken,
Loved accents are soon forgot.
I heard a successful movie script writer being interviewed by Terry Gross the other day. He made the point that, in his opinion, most movie scripts are really the same story told over and over again. He gave some examples to illustrate his point. I see what he means--and that repetition of theme certainly occurs in literature. Only there--we call them archetypes.

There is that recurring theme of the intransigence of existence--the mutability of all things. Contemplate how an entire play--Hamlet--seems to hang up on that theme. And Hamlet's awareness incapacitates him. He wanders around musing "to be or not to be."

About now, dear reader, you may be wondering--what's gotten into her. Oh, maybe I am just musing. Tempus fugit. Memento mori.

Let's hope that the next Writer's Almanac puts me on the path of a cheerier theme.


Karen Hostetler Deyhle said...
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KGMom said...

Karen--yes I certainly do resonate with your thoughts on losing friends, regaining them albeit temporarily.
I still wonder about girlhood friends from boarding school--whose names I would not even know, assuming they married and changed last names.

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

Interesting how foreign quotations resonate with us.

Long before I studied Latin I knew the the phrase Tenpus Fugit. It was the name of a camp (cottage) where we launched our our boat or if necessary began our swim the the island we spent many summer vacations. The man who owned it was single and often had lady friends sharing his cabin on weakends. I never thought much of it as a child but now I know how wonderful it was for him.

My reconnection with my friend Lynne is a "Á la recherche du temp perdu" experience. We casually knew each other during shool from the third grade on. She harboured and interest in me but never revealed it. I moved away and she continued to live in the old neighbourhood. We lived lives unknown to each other. When we reconnected we often found orselves reconnecting in ways such as recalling all those we knew long ago and who lived in which house in the nneighoburhood (she still lives in). We still share a few friends in common. This commonality revisited continues to be an enjoyable part of our relationship.

JeanMac said...

This reminded me of a special friend I'd love to find - from grade eight.

Ginnie said...

Muse on ... I find it all very interesting.