Yes, if a memory, thanks to forgetfulness, has been unable to contract any tie, to forge any link between itself and the present, if it has remained in its own place, of its own date, if it has kept its distance, its isolation in the hollow of a valley or on the peak of a mountain, it makes us suddenly breathe an air new to us just because it is an air we have formerly breathed, an air purer than that the poets have vainly called Paradisiacal, which offers that deep sense of renewal only because it has been breathed before, inasmuch as the true paradises are paradises we have lost.

☛ PROUST, Marcel (1927). Time Regained, tr. by Stephen Hudson [here] [An interesting debate in the New York Review of Books about the English translation of La Recherche, particulary about it’s last volume]

Original French version of the same quote:

Oui, si le souvenir, grâce à l’oubli, n’a pu contracter aucun lien, jeter aucun chaînon entre lui et la minute présente, s’il est resté à sa place, à sa date, s’il a gardé ses distances, son isolement dans le creux d’une vallée ou à la pointe d’un sommet, il nous fait tout à coup respirer un air nouveau, précisément parce que c’est un air qu’on a respiré autrefois, cet air plus pur que les poètes ont vainement essayé de faire régner dans le Paradis et qui ne pourrait donner cette sensation profonde de renouvellement que s’il avait été respiré déjà, car les vrais paradis sont les paradis qu’on a perdus. (Le temps retrouvé, tome 2, éd. Gallimard, Paris, 1927, p. 12; version électronique ici)

 

See also Milton : Paradise Lost / Paradis perdu

A painted portrait of Marcel Proust to accompany the quote “true paradises are paradises we have lost”
Portrait de Marcel Proust by/par Jacques-Emile Blanche, 1892. Musée d’Orsay.
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