In Search of Lost Time


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Marcel, who seems to be on a first-name-only basis with everyone — especially himself — recently switched to typewriter (he has a lovely little Smith-Corona), but refuses to learn word processing; There are limits, he keeps clucking, There are limits, & it must be admitted that he has been refreshingly modern as it is. He tells a story — like all of his stories, this one rattles on interminably — about trying to find a room in which to type in the mansion where he was staying. Marcel claims he refrained from typing out of solicitude for the other residents, who slept during the hours when he was at his creative zenith, & that he became so agitated that he suffered through restless nights during which it took him as many as thirty pages to turn over in bed.*

Chess master Alfred Gossip whispers that Marcel actually demanded a room lined with cork & sealed tight against what he called “airborne contaminants.” According to Gossip, no sooner did Marcel’s hosts obligingly affix corkboard to the walls than their guest complained that the fumes from the glue disturbed his allergies. When the proprietors tried to accommodate him by nailing up corkboard in a second room, Marcel claimed the hammering had loosed into the air a noxious dust that inflamed his allergies & higher sensibilities. No, insisted Marcel, the corkboard could only be held in place by naked cherubim who would not speak — just flutter silently against the walls — for even the merest sigh would disturb Marcel in his labors. Everyone here is beginning to find the author a little tiresome, & tthose few who still marcelled their hair have ceased doing so.



* Marcel might simply go back to the old-fashioned, silent method of pen & ink, but the great author adamantly contends that one ought to forget things past. He would write about his “search for lost time,” as he calls it, but has an uneasy feeling someone else might already have done so. In any event, Marcel hasn’t written a word for many years (however one would measure years here). It is to be suspected that what really bothers him – as it does so many of us – is the presence of Block.



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