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Pretty used to being with Gwyneth

Regrets that her mother did not smoke

Frank in all directions

Jean Cocteau and Jean Marais

Simply cannot go back to them

Roll your eyes at Samuel Beckett

John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion

Metaphors with eyes

Life of Mary MacLane

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Not really talking about women, just Diane

Felicity's disguise

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Entries in marcel proust (2)


In Which We Step Back From The Light Of Thomas Lanier Williams

The Broken Mirror


Not that I like being struck, I hated it, but the keenness of the emotional situation, the material for art.

The notebooks of Thomas Lanier Williams, called Tennessee, retain the defining characteristic of all his writing - they are a half truth. These entries admit much, but not everything. They attempt to explain circumstances, as best they can, but come short of encapsulating his positions in a single artistic or philosophical statement. Surety was a luxury for others who had more enthusiasm for such things. From his point of view, there was a far more pressing dilemma: how could a person so eminently incomplete transcend this in his art?

the cover of Williams' 1941 notebook


Wednesday night.

Very blue. Very down hearted. Thoughts of despair in my feverish head. Very sick last night. Raging fever and pounding heart. The grippe I suppose. Tormented till daybreak. Then felt asleep and woke much improved, fever gone, but weak. Spent the day walking idly about Tampa — wound up at a movie, the usual anesthesia. Visited a bar with plump child-like B-girls & soldiers — called The Broken Mirror.

Home & read a detective story account of the bestial treatment of prisoners in Alcatraz — which made me feel even worse. I feel helpless, unprotected. This little moratorium seems to have stretched its limit and I have written no long play nor do I have a reliable idea for one — and my eye looks worse and I am unbearably shy and had no luck at sex for several weeks.

So I feel wretched & frightened, more than usual.

Tomorrow I will pack off to St. Pete and the beach — God be merciful. Truly.

Thursday, AM.

Just now coughed and spit up a bloodstained phlegm — first time since Mexico. Wasn't even interested really.

Okay. Now we pack up and invade St. Pete and brave the terrors of general delivery. My agent's letters are frightening to me cause I never know when they will pronounce my doom.

Later —

Well, I have arrived in St. Pete and I have a dollar room for the night. Got here in the rain. Fever, headache. Very weak and aching. Lie in my room with a copy of Time.

Audrey's letter contained a cheque without comment. She is bored & irritated no doubt.

A sweet letter from Mother enclosing $5.00 check & May Wright address. I think I will be all right when the sun comes out and this fever passes. A fever is optimistic and imaginative and poetic. The poet's best friend is three degrees of fever.

I have cut out coffee & cigarettes last 2 days. will try to keep it up. so long.

The two defining memes in Williams' notebooks are (1) the search for sex with other men and (2) complaining about his lack of health. Surprisingly, he is quite humble about both of these subjects. (His work was the centerpiece of his confidence; life demanded at least some caution lest his carnal desires destroy him completely.) While he was not above trolling the local bars for intimate companions, it's evident that Thomas Lanier was a quite lonely man, and it is not merely sexual satisfaction but true knowledge of his partner that he craves.


Monday a.m.

America entered the war yesterday, against Japan. Dirty business. I knew some boys on the S.S. Oklahoma reported afire in Pearl Harbor.

on the beach in santa monica


Thursday —

Been back in Nola. about a week.

Crisis is Approaching in my life.

Completing re-write of "Stairs to the Roof" by forced marches. wearing out my nerves - physical wreck - nearly explode every evening.

Restless search for sex — fruitless, and tortured.

I look awful — Clothes shabby, eyes bleared.

Too nervous for any social composure. Feel little hope of production for a play. A commendable efffort — no more I'm afraid. A frantic little caged beast — Me!

En Avant!


A lover tonight. Picked up in Mack's bar. Nice not very goodlooking but pleasant exercise. Gay.

It is about 3:30 a.m. Heart pounding so I can't sleep. The old ticker has been taking a beating lately. Too much coffee. I suppose I am digging myself a grave. But what else would I do? — Today very bitter — play seemed bad. Only the athletic club pulls me thru these days - the hot shower the swim — the quiet, sedative reading room. What will it come to? Yes, the crisis is surely approaching I could probably go on skidding downhill quite a ways — but I am more likely to improve my fortune or crack up.

O how sleepy — Just taken a mebaral — peace except for heart. O how sweet peace is. I am not afraid of death anymore. I am clean and white like an old bone. There is nothing left. Yes. I am purified in a way.

thomas' mother and Grand

There is a tendency to look back at the careers of those we know so well and imagine they enjoyed success in their field at every opportunity. It was famously untrue of Fitzgerald, and although critics, agents and readers immediately saw value in Williams' work, his fiction in particular received a hazy reception. More clear was his marvelous ear for dialogue, for putting all of something in a glib phrase that represented it, and this ability was most obvious to others in his plays.


Sunday night

Oh last night I was drunk and I kissed Otto and Jerry — the lovely, the young — I charmed them with my rare gaiety and wit — so seldom it flowers but when it does it is fine.

They gave me their lips freely, warmly — and we left them alone with each other to make love. Till 6 a.m. I tagged along with an attractive soldier but finally gave him up as he fell into the clutches of a female whore. Returned home and found Frank had collected an attractive blond youth. He slept between us and the nightingales chirped a little. But I was judicious & respected F's priority tonight.

hungry — broke

Heart bad — I think we draw near the close. So? - Byebye.

I talk about extinction. But do I believe it? Am I not rather inclined to think some startling good fortune is coming?

set design for production of "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof"


Tuesday — I have just acquired this new eversharp pencil.

It is 11:15 p.m. I am reading the opening pages of Proust in a book I inadvertently confiscated from the library of the University of Iowa. It is one of the 3 books I own. My collected letters of D.H. Lawrence was acquired in the same way, but deliberately from the public library in New Orleans. Hart Crane was given to prevent me from stealing it "from an idiot."

Why this discussion of my library?

I am frightened thinking of the changes or rather the increased vicissitudes the war might create in my life. I suppose if it did not affect me personally my feelings about it would be only abstractly regretful. Things have to impinge on my own life to matter to me very much. Is that the way with most people? Yes. I am sure that it is.

self portrait of the artist

Well, I have been here about a week — no swimming, just sitting around, writing, eating, going to movies, relaxing in the effortless matrix of "home" created by Grand and Mother and grandfather. Bad for my figure, not much good for my soul. When have I ever done anything for the benefit of my soul? Horse shit.

Well, I must get moving. Where? Undecided as never before. A letter from Audrey will probably precipitate a decision. Macon? New York? Back to New Orleans? Or even, Florida — Mexico? Mexico City would be lovely, wish it were possible.

No, I feel no desire to participate in war work.

O, I might would be glad to be a Florence Nightingale if I could but — incompetent and lazy me. Thank god I don't have to go to camp or fight.

Proust writes, "For a long time I used to go to bed early."

Dear selfish, shameless, heroic, honest sissy — Proust.

We would have understood each other, my dear. How we might have "dished" the world in that cork-lined room of yours. I wonder if you turned over and would I ! heavens!

C'est assez Good night.


Proust bores me tonight — I find myself, "No it isn't quite that involved, dear boy, at least not quite that involuted. The involvement is not so subject to analysis as you make it. A little more impressionism, please!

Williams did have one relationship with a woman. As you might imagine, it was short lived. He doted on his boyfriends, who were routinely younger and less experienced than he himself. He tended to live somewhat in fear of their departure, although he possessed an intense charisma that usually drew people into his orbit.


This evening a stranger picked me up. A common and seedy-looking young Jew with a thick accent. I was absurdly happy. For the first time since my arrival here I had a companion.

I took him all over town, bought him a beer, found him a place for the night. He was a hitch-hiker with a bag of cheese and rolls for food.

It was like cool water after hot thirst, just being with somebody. Left me quiet and relaxed.

I went home and read Robinson Jeffers' extraordinarily good-and-bad verse.

This afternoon I wrote and it was no fun but I got some probably not so bad work done.

No mail. Tomorrow?

The New York silence disturbs me. I guess it will have to be home for a while, at least.

Feel not bad tonight.

Hungry — very little to eat.

Salad for supper.

Milk for lunch.

Coffee for breakfast.

Bon nuit


From five o'clock on I am alone. I swim, exercise, and go out alone to the movie. I return and the floor is quiet. My former friend, the dancer, is in a room with someone else. Desertion!

But last night I had a sudden and hot affair with a party from Wisconsin. I was told that I had a lovely body and the compliment was apparently sincere. As we increase the distance from our youth, such speeches have more and more pathetic value to us. It used to be taken for granted, that we were as desirable to the other as that one is to us. Now we seldom are or we do not see how we could be, for we pursue the younger and lovelier than ourselves — Why do I write in the plural? Is it too sad to say "I"? But I don't think much about losing my youth. It happens and is accepted gradually. I feel very young. In a way. And in a way very old. I do not feel the time sense of much longer living. No, it seems as though it would not be long to the finish. But I started feeling that a number of years ago.

I want to go back to creation.

Strongly, brightly, with a fresh and free spirit and a driving power.

To do the monument.

So long.

with donald windham Williams never attempted much in the way of criticism, but his taste was impeccable. In the following excerpts, he relates his first and ongoing experiences with his peers and progenitors.

Anton Chekhov

Why can't I write like Chekhov? I could gouge my good eye out because I can't do something lovely and haunting like "The Sea Gull."

Thomas Wolfe

Scene after scene has the stamp of genius on it.

Whether the total effect will be as powerful as the parts is a question doesn't modify the fact that here is a man who has left his stamp on our human consciousness — and a very great stamp it is.

The picture of Webber's homecoming — particularly Randy and his boss — are as fine as anything of the kind I have seen — finer — Men like Wolfe — and the mess of this world — how do you reconcile it? You don't — can't. The world is ruled by Randy's bosses. The Tom Wolfe's are observers — but their work makes them a threat to their evil masters. They lift the scales from the slaves' eyes - if the slaves dare to let them.

William Saroyan

Saroyan is likeable enough with his somewhat calculated but fresh candor and probably has for many a charm. I felt too much space between us.

Miguel de Cervantes

Love him.

Hart Crane

I've been reading a lot of Hart Crane's poetry — like it but hardly understand a single line — of course the individual lines aren't supposed to be intelligible. The message, if there actually is one, comes from the total effect — much of it has at least the atmosphere of great poetry — it is a lot of raw material, all significant and moving but not chiselled into any communicative shape.

TLW's New Orleans

Andre Gide

Miss Gide seems to have been an old auntie all her life! Her writing has never moved me though I observe its excellencies. She is a bit dry for my fruity tastes. I doubt that she and I would have hit it off — still, she has some qualities I would enjoy. However I don't have the impression, from her journal, that she liked anyone really very deeply except Miss Gide, whom she pretends to deprecate but whom I think she regards as a girl of destiny pretty much all the way through.

Perhaps I envy the length and felicity of her days.

D.H. Lawrence

When I met other writers, I knew without knowing how different altogether Lawrence was. They may have been good writers, but Lawrence was a genius.

Friedrich Nietzsche

"The higher we soar the smaller we appear to those who cannot fly."

Was it possible that all things could be so useless and indefinite as Nietzsche made them look?

November 1947, letter to Pancho Rodriguez

In my life there has been so much real tragedy, things I cannot speak about and hardly dare to remember, from the time of my childhood and all the way through the years in between that I lack patience with people who are spoiled and think that they are entitled to go through life without effort and without sacrifice and without disappointment. Life is hard. As Amanda said, "It calls for Spartan endurance." But more than that, it calls for understanding, one person understanding another person, and for some measure of sacrifice, too. Very few people learn until late in life how much courage it takes to live, but if you learn it in the beginning it will be easier for you...

Of all the people I have known you have the greatest and warmest heart but you also unfortunately have a devil in you that is constantly working against you, filling you with insane suspicion and jealousies and ideas that are so preposterous that one does not know how to answer them. It is a terrifying thing. You must face it and make a determined effort to master it now before it becomes too well-established.

with his brother

"Body Ache" - Britney Spears (mp3)

"Don't Cry" - Britney Spears (mp3)

The new album from Britney Spears is entitled Britney Jean, and it will be released on November 29th.

with his sister rose


In Which Harold Pinter Changes Marcel Proust

Judge of Proust


Proust is completely detached from all moral considerations. There is no right or wrong in Proust nor in his world.

- Samuel Beckett

When Harold Pinter's screenplay of Proust's In Search of Lost Time was published in 1978, the playwright's lifetime ignorance of his critics softened. He paid attention to what they wrote because what he made was not entirely his own, and since Proust was no longer living to judge his adaptation, he was prepared to be crucified by the man's inheritors.

1972 had been a year of reading and writing in fits and starts. He worked with Beckett's mistress/scholar/translator Barbara Bray, whose knowledge of Proust's opus far exceeded his own. Pinter had only read Swann's Way, so the first idea to adapt the novel to the screen consisted of Swann's Way as the entire movie, with allusions to a larger whole. Pinter and Bray rejected this limitation immediately, and his dismissal of Swann's Way was wise many of the events of the book simply don't revolve enough around Marcel for a drama.

with Vaclav Havel a year before the Velvet Revolution

For the most part, Pinter views In Search of Lost Time as a comedy. In The Guermantes Way Proust recalls his visit to the home of Charlus, an emotional scene where the comic aspect is largely ironic. Pinter brings it out into the open:


Charlus, in a Chinese dressing gown, throat bare, is lying on a sofa.

The Valet shows Marcel into the room and withdraws.

A tall hat, its top flashing in the light, sits on a cap on a chair.

Charlus stares at Marcel in silence.

MARCEL: Good evening.

No reply. The stare is implacable.

May I sit down? Silence.

CHARLUS: Take the Louis Quatorze chair. Marcel sits abruptly in a Directoire chair beside him. Ah! So that is what you call a Louis Quatorze chair! I can see you have been well educated. One of these days you'll take Madame de Villeparisis' lap for a lavatory and goodness knows what you'll do in it. Pause. Sir, this interview which I have condescended to grant you will mark the end of our relationship. He stretches an arm along the back of the sofa. Since I was everything and you were nothing, since I, if I may state it plainly, am a prodigious personage and you in comparison a microbe, it was naturally I who took the first steps towards you. You have made an imbecilic reply to what it is not for me to describe as an act of greatness. In short, you have lied about me to others. You have repeated calumnies against me to others. Therefore these are the last words we shall exchange on this earth.


MARCEL: Never, sir. I have never spoken about you to anyone.

CHARLUS: You left unanswered the proposal I made to you here in Paris. The idea did not attract you. There is no more to be said about that. But that you did not take the trouble to write to me shows that you lack not only breeding, good manners, sensibility, but common or garden intelligence. Instead, you prove yourself despicable in speaking of me disrespectfully to the world at large.

MARCEL: Sir, I swear to you that I have said nothing to anyone that could insult you.

CHARLUS (with extreme violence): Insult me? Who says that I am insulted? Do you suppose it is within your power to insult me? You evidently do not realize to whom you are speaking. Do you imagine that the envenomed spittle of five hundred little gentlemen of your type, heaped one upon the other, would succeed in slobbering so much as the tips of my august toes?

Marcel stares at him, jumps up, seizes the Baron's silk hat, throws it down, tramples it, picks it up, wrenches off the brim, tears the crown in two.

CHARLUS: What in heaven's name are you doing? Have you gone mad?

Marcel rushes to the door and opens it. Two footmen are standing outside. They move slowly away. Marcel walks quickly past them, followed by Charlus, who bars his way.

CHARLUS: There, there, don't be childish. Come back for a minute. He that loveth well chasteneth well. I have chastened you well because I love you well. He draws Marcel back into the room.

CHARLUS (to footman): Take away the hat and bring me a new one.

MARCEL: I would like to know the name of your informer, sir.

CHARLUS: I have given a promise of secrecy to my informant. I do not intend to betray that promise.

MARCEL: You insult me, sir. I have already sworn to you that I have said nothing.

CHARLUS (thunderously): Are you calling me a liar?

MARCEL: You have been misinformed.

CHARLUS: It is quite possible. Generally speaking, a remark repeated at second hand is rarely true. But true or false, the remark has done its work. Pause.

MARCEL: I had better go.

CHARLUS: I agree. Or, if you feel too tired, I have plenty of beds here.

MARCEL: Thank you. I am not too tired.

CHARLUS: It is true that my affection for you is dead. Nothing can revive it. As Victor Hugo's Boaz said, "I am widowed, alone, and the dark gathers o'er me."


Charlus and Marcel walking through the green room. Music is heard from another floor. A Beethoven romance. Charlus points at two portraits.

CHARLUS: My uncles. The King of Poland and the King of England.


The carriage waits. Charlus and Marcel look up at the night sky.

CHARLUS: What a superb moon. I think I shall talk a walk in the Bois.

Marcel does not respond to this.

CHARLUS: It would be pleasant to walk in the Bois under the moon with someone like yourself. For you're charming, really, quite charming. When I met you first I must confess I found you quite insignificant.

He takes Marcel to his carriage. Marcel gets in.

CHARLUS: Remember this. Affection is precious. Do not neglect it. Thank you for coming. Good night.

Unlike Victor Hugo, Pinter's own plays and prose are obscured and difficult, the very opposite of Hugo's pandering. During many moments in The Proust Screenplay, he thrives by keeping the audience in darkness. Pinter uses a honed dramatic convention of setting up a variety of concurrent mysteries and having some of them answer others. The world of Proust, like any drama, is a lot better if you are excited to find out what happens next.

Samuel Beckett was Pinter's guide in this, and all things. He never refuted his mentor, and took every word from the man's lips as the gospel. It was Beckett's inspiration, primarily, to orient the film version around Le Temps retrouvé, the final volume in the book and the one most near and dear to scholars and critics. The adaptation is also structured around the idea of Proust preparing to write In Search of Lost Time, of the experiences that most revolve around the glimmering possibility of becoming the writer he wished to be.

a Japanese production of "The Caretaker"

It is impossible not to feel some of the doubts Pinter himself felt as a young writer in Marcel's story, and the reflections of his most famous play, Betrayal, in Marcel's scenes with Albertine.


Marcel and Albertine enter the room. He closes the door. She speaks at once.

ALBERTINE: What have you got against me?

Marcel walks to the window, turns from it, sits, looks at her gravely.

MARCEL: Do you really want me to tell you the truth?


He speaks quietly.

MARCEL: I admire Andrée... greatly. I always have. There you are. That's the truth. You and I can be friends, I hope, but nothing more. Once, I was on the point of falling in love with you, but that time... can't be recaptured. I'm sorry to be so frank. The truth is always unpleasant - for someone. I love Andrée.

ALBERTINE: I see. I don't mind your frankness. I see. But I'd just like to know what I've done.

MARCEL: Done? You haven't done anything. I've just explained it to you.

ALBERTINE: Yes, I have. Or you think I have.

MARCEL: Why can't you listen?

ALBERTINE: Why can't you tell me? Silence.

MARCEL: I've heard reports. She gazes at him.

MARCEL: Reports...about your way of life.

ALBERTINE: My way of life?

MARCEL: I have a profound disgust for women... tainted with that vice. Pause. You see, I have heard that your...accomplice...is Andrée, and since Andrée is the woman I love, you can understand my grief.

Albertine looks at him steadily.

ALBERTINE: Who told you this rubbish?

MARCEL: I can't tell you.

ALBERTINE: Andrée and I both detest that sort of thing. We find it revolting.

MARCEL: You're saying it's not true?

ALBERTINE: If it were true I would tell you. I would be quite honest with you. Why not? But I'm telling you it's absolutely untrue.

MARCEL: Do you swear it?

ALBERTINE: I swear it. She walks to him and sits by him on the sofa. I swear it. She takes his hand. You are silly. She strokes his hand. All those stories about Andrée... She touches his face. You are silly. I'm your Albertine. She strokes his face. Aren't you glad I'm here...sitting next to you?

MARCEL: Yes. She attempts to kiss him. His mouth is shut. She passes her tongue over his lips.

ALBERTINE: Open your mouth. Open your mouth, you great bear. She forces his mouth open, kisses him, forcing him down on the sofa.

as bassanio in "The Merchant of Venice"


Marcel and Mother sitting in deck chairs.

MOTHER: I think you should know that Albertine's aunt believes you are going to marry Albertine.


MOTHER: You're spending a great deal of money on her. They naturally think it would be a very good marriage, from her point of view. Pause.

MARCEL: What do you think of her yourself?

MOTHER: Albertine? Well, it's not that I will be marrying her, is it? I don't think your grandmother would have liked me to influence you. But if she can make you happy...

MARCEL: She bores me. I have no intention of marrying her.

MOTHER: In that case I should see less of her.

performing in a production of his play "The Hothouse"

The collaboration between Harold Pinter and Joseph Losey on an adaptation of L.P. Hartley's novel The Go-Between convinced producer Nicole Stéphane the duo were capable of properly distilling source material this voluminous. Before The Go-Between was a hit at the 1970 Cannes Film Festival, Stéphane and her lover Susan Sontag had brainstormed possible directors: at times François Truffaut, René Clément and Luchino Visconti were all attached to the project, with Visconti going so far as to scout locations and commission a rough script modeled on Sodom and Gomorrah.

Pinter was 21 years Losey's junior, and he respected the filmmaker immensely: he never imagined The Proust Screenplay without him. Pinter's two other films with Losey The Servant and Accident share a similar haunting tone and perspective on class boundaries, so it was not surprising that he desired a director with whom he shared both kinship and confidence. Ironically, his devotion to Losey was what doomed the project. The once blacklisted director's films never did well in America, and he was considered box office poison.

Jacqueline Sassard and Dirk Bogarde in 1967's amazing "Accident"

Just as Pinter's plays are dark and sometimes frightening, so were Losey's menacing adaptations of his screenwriting. I don't know how they thought these sort of films would appear to a mass audience. Some scenes are heavy with dialogue, others extremely dependent on Losey's masterful editing. In refusing to decide between being stage plays or art films, they used the most exciting conventions of both genres and managed to appeal to neither audience.

In The Proust Screenplay Pinter is more accessible than in any of his stage works, taking a familiar story and never shying from a crowd-pleasing line or innuendo. It is his broadest masterpiece.

When biographer Michael Billington asked Pinter why another director was never approached, he said, "Nobody ever suggested that to me. It would have been quite pointless to say that to me. They may have suggested it to Barbara. Nobody did to me because I wouldn't have given it house-room." He values loyalty in a way Marcel does not.

Pinter with Liv Ullman in a revival of his "Old Times"


The pond, seen through a gap in the hedge.

A fishing line rests by the side of the pond, the float bobbing in the water.

Marcel and Gilberte appear and walk to the side of the pond. They are both aged thirty-five and both dressed in mourning.

GILBERTE: Two days after Robert was killed I received a package sent anonymously. It contained his Croix de Guerre. There was no note of explanation, nothing. The package was posted in Paris. Pause. Isn't that strange?


GILBERTE: He never mentioned, in any letter, that it had been lost, or stolen.

in his acting days, after a performance of Lady Windermere's Fan


Marcel and Gilberte stand by the windows.

GILBERTE: I loved him. But we had grown unhappy. He had another woman, or other women, I don't know.

MARCEL: Other women?

GILBERTE: Yes. He had some secret life, which he never confessed to me, but I know he found it irresistible.

with Julie Christie on the set of "The Go-Between"


Marcel and Gilberte walking.

GILBERTE: Do you remember your childhood at Combray?

MARCEL: Not really.

GILBERTE: How long is it since you've been back?

MARCEL: Oh, a very long time. It's changed.

GILBERTE: The war has changed everything.

MARCEL: No, it's nothing to do with the war.

GILBERTE: But are you saying that these paths, these woods, the village, excite nothing in you?

MARCEL: Nothing. They mean nothing to me. It's all dead. I remember almost nothing of it. Pause. I remember seeing you, through the hedge. I adored you.

GILBERTE: Did you? I wish you'd told me at the time. I thought you were delicious.

Marcel stares at her.


GILBERTE: I longed for you. Of course I was quite precocious, I suppose, then. I used to go some ruins - at Roussainville - with some girls and boys, from the village, in the dark. We were quite wicked. I longed for you to come there. I remember, that moment through the hedge, I tried to let you know how much I wanted you, but I don't think you understood. He laughs.

GILBERTE: Why are you laughing?

MARCEL: Because I didn't understand. I've understood very little. I've been too... preoccupied... with other matters... To be honest, I have wasted my life.

with Nicaraguan poet Ernesto Cardenal

Pinter largely ignores the portrayal of Jews in In Search of Lost Time. Marcel hears gossiping about the Dreyfus affair but that it is all his Jewish friends and acquaintances have vanished like Marcel's familiar madeleine cookie. Pinter's people were a band of North London Jews; Pinter's paternal grandfather fled from a Russian pogrom. Passover was a big event in his house as a child, but like many European Jews, he rejected the religious dogmatism of his parents. He was concerned with "world affairs" and considered himself a man of Earth.

Proust is not concerned with morality, but like all self-righteous atheists, Pinter is obsessed with it. Primacy to his own experience was Marcel's ideal, Pinter's is primacy to his own moral code. In every scene of The Proust Screenplay, he casts his own judgment over the proceedings. The challenge to Losey is huge. Although he lists shots, so much is left off, can only be hinted at:

Pinter's adaptation of Proust requires another creative mind to infiltrate his own, and find the perspective justified, confirm his suspicions about the characters and events. Because The Proust Screenplay is only a script, we are given this interpretive task as readers. Even in the work's harshest and most mind-rending moments, it is the thrall of being correct and therefore superior, the rationalization following our primal emotions, that lies closer to Harold's heart. He is watching these people and telling us how to live with what they said and did. He writes,

Proust wrote Swann's Way first and Time Regained, the last volume, second. He then wrote the rest. The relationship between the first volume and the last seemed to us the crucial one. The whole book is, as it were, contained in the last volume. When Marcel in Time Regained says that he is now able to start his work, he has already written it. We have just read it. Somehow the remarkable conception had to be found again in another form. We knew we could in no sense rival the work. But could we be true to it?

Every adaptation is a moral act; imagine Proust trying to do to In Search of Lost Time what Pinter did to it. He would never, and he would wonder why it needed to be done.

with joseph losey and james fox (left)

In 1930, Samuel Beckett related his view of Proust in his bizarre and brilliant monograph on the author, a piece hellbent on serving its author more than its ostensible subject. (Beckett was perhaps overly critical of his younger self when he later wrote, "I have written my book in cheap flashy philosophical jargon.") It was Beckett's mature view of À la recherche du temps perdu that informed every step of Pinter's process.

There is no more exciting interaction of two European masters except possibly in Freud and Jung. Beckett's view is necessarily bleaker it is the contrast between the two similar styles that keeps Pinter's work hopeful enough to survive in the theater. For in Pinter's drama, joy never comes easy.

The cinematic image, then, becomes home to the explosive feelings he can't handle through speech. Proust's constant exposition and narrative meandering is anathema to a playwright; instead of representing them literally, as he is loathe to do, Pinter places them in the stage directions for Losey to visualize. (Ever watched a director during his own screening?) Later, he plans to silently and morbidly screen the final product with the director he called Joe, obsessing in the same fashion others view old photos of lost friends. Because The Proust Screenplay never received the elaborate production it deserves before his death, Pinter was denied the feeling disconsolate or euphoric of witnessing himself.

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording. He tumbls here and twitters here. He last wrote in these pages about Jim Henson and Sesame Street.

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The new album from The Rapture In The Grace Of Your Love comes out on September 6th.