Proust and Chet

Yesterday we posted this observation from a recent Amazon reviewer of It’s A Wonderful Woof:

“Maybe I’m nuts, but does Chet have a Marcel Proust moment in Chapter One? Not bad for a K-9 school washout.”

The reviewer is not nuts:

Proust (from Remembrance of Things Past): And once I had recognized the taste of the crumb of madeleine soaked in her decoction of lime-flowers which my aunt used to give me (although I did not yet know and must long postpone the discovery of why this memory made me so happy) immediately the old grey house upon the street, where her room was, rose up like the scenery of a theatre to attach itself to the little pavilion, opening on to the garden, which had been built out behind it for my parents (the isolated panel which until that moment had been all that I could see); and with the house the town, from morning to night and in all weathers, the Square where I was sent before luncheon, the streets along which I used to run errands, the country roads we took when it was fine. And just as the Japanese amuse themselves by filling a porcelain bowl with water and steeping in it little crumbs of paper which until then are without character or form, but, the moment they become wet, stretch themselves and bend, take on colour and distinctive shape, become flowers or houses or people, permanent and recognisable, so in that moment all the flowers in our garden and in M. Swann’s park, and the water-lilies on the Vivonne and the good folk of the village and their little dwellings and the parish church and the whole of Combray and of its surroundings, taking their proper shapes and growing solid, sprang into being, town and gardens alike, all from my cup of tea.

Chet (from It’s A Wonderful Woof): Grabbing perps by the pant leg is how we close our cases, me doing the grabbing and Bernie standing by with the cuffs. I checked out Mama’s pants and wouldn’t you know? They were the exact same pants she’d been wearing that day, red leather with golden leather fringes! I remembered the taste of those golden fringes so well! Have you ever noticed how the taste of something – or even the memory of the taste – makes long-ago happenings suddenly pop up in your mind like they were just yesterday? It all came back to me: Mama lighting the fuse, the door blowing off the safe, Mama reaching inside with a lovely look on her face, so excited and alive, which was when we showed up.


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This entry was posted on Wednesday, December 29th, 2021 at 8:14 am and is filed under Chet The Dog. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

4 Responses to “Proust and Chet”

  1. B. Stover
    10:46 am on December 29th, 2021

    Proust’s novel (also translated as “In Search of Lost Time”) is in seven volumes.

    Good day to all.

  2. mlaiuppa
    7:06 pm on December 29th, 2021

    Heavy editing would have reduced it to one volume.

    I think it’s a bit of a stretch, though. Would like to hear from Spencer if he had Proust in mind, even on a subliminal level, when he wrote that passage.

    I can’t stand that sort of run on, one sentence an entire paragraph sort of writing. By the time you get to the end you’ve forgotten what it was about because of all of the bird-walking.

    I seem to remember trying to read one of the “classics”, maybe Nathaniel Hawthorn or James Fenimore Cooper and one sentence was almost an entire page, all one paragraph. I stopped at about the second or third page and said nope and put it back.

  3. Wose-The Small and Meek
    8:36 pm on December 29th, 2021

    MLAIUPPA: I agree with you about the one sentence entire paragraph thing.

    Spence does Proust so much better. :^)

  4. Staff
    11:35 pm on December 29th, 2021

    My mother disliked (I think it was) Henry James because of those types of sentences. I sometimes love them. I have noticed them before in the Chet and Bernie series and they always give me a happy feeling. I have never read Henry James though.

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