'Contre Sainte-Beuve confirms our sense of Proust's uncertainty about the line he should follow, and some of the notes quoted in Fallois's preface show that Proust was at once genuinely at a loss and inclined to blame himself for irresolution. The decline of spontaneous lyrical feeling in himself led him to think he must give up the Romantic vision in favour of observation and analysis: to a landscape which no longer moved him, he wrote: 'You have nothing more to say to me; it is people who interest me now'. Yet when he read Sainte-Beuve, the transcendental idealism in himself was fanned to a flame of revolt against Saint-Beuve's systematic confusion between the artist and the man, and went on burning on its own with a fresh creative light. Proust was, at this stage, swinging between feeling and analysis. The problem set by his manifold gifts and interests was that of finding an artistic unity for the material they provided, of bringing feeling and analysis together in a single conception.'



Proust by J. M. Cocking