Saturday, May 08, 2021

Adrienne Rich, Leo Tolstoy, Marcel Proust

Adrienne Rich's "The Novel" describes the intoxicating experience of reading Tolstoy: "All winter you went to bed early, drugging yourself on 'War and Peace'". The poem continues with images of Prince Andrei and of Natasha "grow[ing] into a neutered thing", but that first line echoes the opening of Marcel Proust's "Du côté du chez Swann": "Longtemps, je me suis couché de bonne heure." While Proust explores how tasting the madeline doubles memory and experience, Rich considers the doubling of reading and daily experience: "Prince Andrei’s cold eyes taking in the sky from the battlefield / were your eyes [...] / You went walking in the streets as if you were ordinary." (Andrew Shields, #111words, 8 May 2021)


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