The affection of the mother (From Swann’s Side – Marcel Proust)

Marcel Proust in Du Côté de chez Swann tells of this intimate bond that can link a son to his mother.

We have selected for you an excerpt, in the first pages of the first part of Du Côté de chez Swann. The narrator reports and describes these moments of his childhood, just before going to sleep.

“My only consolation, when I went upstairs to bed, was that Mother would come and kiss me when I was in bed. But this goodnight lasted so short, she would come down so quickly that the moment when I heard her go upstairs, and then when the light sound of her blue muslin garden dress, from which hung little cords of plaited straw, passed through the double-door hallway, it was a painful moment for me. It announced the one that was going to follow, when she would have left me, when she would have gone back down. So that this good evening that I liked so much, I came to wish that it came as late as possible, that the time of respite where Mom had not yet come was prolonged. Sometimes when, after kissing me, she opened the door to leave, I wanted to call her back, to tell her “kiss me once more”, but I knew that she would immediately make her angry face, because the concession she made to my sadness and my agitation by coming up to kiss me by bringing me this kiss of peace, annoyed my father who found these rites absurd, and she would have tried to make me lose the need for them, the habit, far from letting me take the habit of asking her, when she was already on the doorstep, for one more kiss. But to see her angry destroyed all the calm she had brought me a moment before, when she had bent her loving face towards my bed, and had held it out to me like a host for a communion of peace where my lips would draw her real presence and the power to put me to sleep. But those evenings, when Mother stayed so little in my room, were still sweet compared to those when there were people at dinner and because of that she did not come up to say goodnight to me.” – Marcel Proust, Du Côté de chez Swann (first volume of the Recherche du temps perdu)

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