Marisa Verna deposited Proust à l’écoute de Senancour. Du silence des montagnes au silence de la musique. Questions de style in the group LLC 19th-Century French on MLA Commons 1 year, 5 months ago
The tunefulness of Proust and Senancour. From the silence of mountains to the silence of music
For Proust, great books are the “children of silence” (CSB, p. 309), and his novel endeavors to express what could not, in principle, be formulated: nature, sensations, in brief the physical and psychic existence as a whole. In his vision, language is the interweaving device able to connect them. This “paradoxical mimesis, consisting in trying to reproduce the silence of being” (Anne Simona), is not unknown to Senancour, whose writing is meant to grasp the Infinite, barely perceived in the pattern of the universe, his text being kept in a constant motion between sensation and its object, the expressed and the inexpressible.
Faced with the silence of the altitude, Senancour admits not to have words to describe it, at least not “in the language of the plain” (Obermann). Only the chant of the herdsmen can translate this language, namely a non- verbal, unspoken language, where breath and spirit unite to say the “ineffable”.
In the Prisonnière Proust describes the music of Vinteuil as a “return to the unanalyzed”, where silence (“the depths”) would have been finally translated.
Proust’s famous statement (“Senancour, c’est moi”, CSB), is then less surprising, based as it is on an essential merging of the two authors’ esthetics. This article aims at identifying some stylistic structures (metaphors, paraphrases, synesthesia), used by both Proust and Senancour to decipher the paradoxical “language of silence” spoken by mountains, and music as well.
Key words: Proust, Senancour; silence; music; sensation; ineffable.