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Swann's Way In Search of Lost Time 1


servant has gone to bed, and he must lie all night in agony with no one
to bring him any help.
I would fall asleep, and often I would be awake again for short
snatches only, just long enough to hear the regular creaking of the wains-
cot, or to open my eyes to settle the shifting kaleidoscope of the dark-
ness, to savour, in an instantaneous flash of perception, the sleep which
lay heavy upon the furniture, the room, the whole surroundings of
which I formed but an insignificant part and whose unconsciousness I
should very soon return to share. Or, perhaps, while I was asleep I had
returned without the least effort to an earlier stage in my life, now for
ever outgrown; and had come under the thrall of one of my childish ter-
rors, such as that old terror of my great-uncle's pulling my curls, which
was effectually dispelled on the dayÑthe dawn of a new era to meÑon
which they were finally cropped from my head. I had forgotten that
event during my sleep; I remembered it again immediately I had suc-
ceeded in making myself wake up to escape my great-uncle's fingers;
still, as a measure of precaution, I would bury the whole of my head in
the pillow before returning to the world of dreams.
Sometimes, too, just as Eve was created from a rib of Adam, so a wo-
man would come into existence while I was sleeping, conceived from
some strain in the position of my limbs. Formed by the appetite that I
was on the point of gratifying, she it was, I imagined, who offered me
that gratification. My body, conscious that its own warmth was permeat-
ing hers, would strive to become one with her, and I would awake. The
rest of humanity seemed very remote in comparison with this woman
whose company I had left but a moment ago: my cheek was still warm
with her kiss, my body bent beneath the weight of hers. If, as would
sometimes happen, she had the appearance of some woman whom I had
known in waking hours, I would abandon myself altogether to the sole
quest of her, like people who set out on a journey to see with their own
eyes some city that they have always longed to visit, and imagine that
they can taste in reality what has charmed their fancy. And then, gradu-
ally, the memory of her would dissolve and vanish, until I had forgotten
the maiden of my dream.
When a man is asleep, he has in a circle round him the chain of the
hours, the sequence of the years, the order of the heavenly host. Instinct-
ively, when he awakes, he looks to these, and in an instant reads off his
own position on the earth's surface and the amount of time that has
elapsed during his slumbers; but this ordered procession is apt to grow
confused, and to break its ranks. Suppose that, towards morning, after a
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