De amicitia

Editorial note: If you have not yet read our mission statement above, please do so in order that you can put our blogs in context. 

16 November 2012


“Quand je connus Mme de Montmorency, elle aima à me dire des choses désagréables, mais si j’avais besoin d’un service, elle jetait pour l’obtenir avec efficacité tout ce qu’elle possédait de credit, sans rien ménager. Tandis que telle autre, comme Mme de Guermantes, n’eût jamais voulu me faire de peine, ne disait de moi que ce qui pouvait me faire plaisir, me comblait de toutes les amabilités qui formaient le riche train de vie moral des Guermantes, mais si je lui avais demandé un rien en dehors de cela n’eût pas fait un pas pour me le procurer…Laquelle était pour moi la véritable amie, de Mme de Montmorency, si heureuse de me froisser et toujours prête à me servir, ou de Mme de Guermantes, souffrant du moindre déplaisir qu’on m’eût causé et incapable du moindre effort pour m’être utile?”

Extract from the roman fleuve “À la recherché du temps perdu” (published from 1913 to 1927) by Marcel Proust (1971-1922). The passage is taken from page 1182 of the single-volume quarto edition published by Gallimard in 1999.  The English translation below is by C. K. Scott Moncrieff.

“When I knew Mme de Montmorency, she loved to say unpleasant things to me, but if I was in need of a service she would squander, in the hope of obtaining it for me effectively, all the credit at her disposal, without counting the cost. Whereas some other woman, Mme de Guermantes for example, would never have wished to hurt my feelings, never said anything about me except what might give me pleasure, showered on me all those tokens of friendship which formed the rich manner of living, morally, of the Guermantes, but, had I asked her for the least thing above and beyond that, would not have moved an inch to procure it for me….Which was for me the true friend, Mme de Montmorency, so glad always to annoy me and always so ready to oblige, or Mme de Guermantes, distressed by the slightest offence that might have been given me and incapable of the slightest effort to be of use to me?”


Editorial note: (1) We have slightly expanded the conclusion of our final comment in last night’s post “Coining it” and (2) as promised, we have now appended an English translation to the stanzas by Jorge Manrique cited in our post “Et alors?” dated 6 November 2012 but published the next day.


 You might perhaps care to view some of our earlier posts.  For instance:

1. Why? or How? That is the question (3 Jan 2012)

2. Partitocracy v. Democracy (20 July 2012)

3. The shoddiest possible goods at the highest possible prices (2 Feb 2012)

4. Capitalism in practice  (4 July 2012) 

5.Ladder  (21 June 2012)

 6. A tale of two cities (1)  (6 June 2012)

 7. A tale of two cities (2)  (7 June 2012)

 8. Where’s the beef? Ontology and tinned meat (31 Jan 2012)

Every so often we shall change this sample of previously published posts.


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