Homage

Although I have scarcely read a single volume or Marcel Proust’s great work, and though the very art of the novelist is an art that I find almost inconceivable, I am nevertheless well aware, from the little of the Recherche du Temps Perdu that I have found time to read, what an exceptionally heavy loss literature has just suffered; and not only literature but still more that secret society composed of those who in every age give the age its real value.

In any case, even if I had never read a line of Proust’s vast work, the mere fact that two people with minds as different as Gide and Léon Daudet were agreed about its importance would have been sufficient to allay any doubts; such unexpected agreement could only occur in the case of a virtual certainty. We can be easy in our minds; the sun must be shining if they both proclaim the fact at the same time.

Others will speak with authority and penetration of the power and subtlety of Proust’s work. Still others will tell us what manner of man it was who conceived the work and brought it to a glorious conclusion; I myself merely caught a glimpse of him many years ago. I can therefore only put forward a view without weight and barely worth recording. Let it be no more than a tribute, a fading flower on a tomb that will endure.

— Paul Valéry

After reading Pierre Bayard’s book (SB++), I spent some time looking for a public domain translation of the Homage to Marcel Proust, but was unable to find one. This is what’s available on Google Books.