How I hate old Proust!

I would wish my days to be separated each from each by unnatural impiety.

Then, in a tone of disgust, “All this burden of past experience that one trails about with one!” he added. “There ought to be some way of getting rid of one’s superfluous memories. How I hate old Proust! Really detest him.” And with a richly comic eloquence he proceeded to evoke the vision of that asthmatic seeker of lost time squatting, horribly white and flabby, with breasts almost female but fledged with long black hairs, for ever squatting in the tepid bath of his remembered past. And all the soap suds of countless previous washings floated around him, all the accumulated dirt of years lay crusty on the sides of the tub or hung in dark suspension in the water. And there he sat, a pale repellent invalid, taking up spongefuls of his own thick soup and squeezing it over his face, scooping up cupfuls of it and appreciatively rolling the grey and gritty liquor round his mouth, gargling, rinsing his nostrils with it, like a pious Hindu in the Ganges. . . .

“You talk about him,” said Helen, “as if he were a personal enemy.”

Anthony only laughed.

In the silence that followed, Helen picked up the faded snapshot of her mother and began to pore over it intently, as though it were some mysterious hieroglyph which, if interpreted, might provide a clue, unriddle an enigma.

— Aldous Huxley, Eyeless in Gaza

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