The Other John Updike Archive
Prousts Overcoat

Prousts Overcoat

“Beauty is our weapon against nature; by it we make objects, giving them limit, symmetry, proportion. Beauty halts and freezes the melting flux of nature.�?-Camille Paglia

“Guerin was so moved that tears began to well up and roll down his face.  He felt that fate had rewarded him handsomely for his diligence in searching out and seeking to preserve these earthly remains of a literary deity�?. p 89 Proust’s Overcoat  Lorenza Foschini

“Next to this painting, scattered about on the pavement, Guerin saw what he realized must have been items from Marcel Proust’s toiletry set, identifying them by their engraved initials.  Guerin was well aware that anyone would consider these brushes virtually worthless without the knowledge of whose hair they combed, but knowing to whom these brushes belonged made them virtually priceless.�? p 84  Proust’s Overcoat


“In his memoir, The Night Visitor, Proust’s friend Paul Morand described him as “a very pale man, encased in an old fur-lined coat; thick black hair cut at the nape of the neck, in the style of 1905, sticking out from under his gray bowler hat; his hands in slate colored gloves holding on to a cane..�? pp 96-97  Proust’s Overcoat

“For a collector, the latent mystery embodied in other people’s belongings can ignite a covetous desirepart longing, part fulfillmentof unquantifiable value.  In this particular instance, more was at stake than simple egotistical voraciousness.  The thrill driving Guerin was not merely that of a collector, but of a savior.�? p 88  Proust’s Overcoat

“Jacques Guerin was ninety-eight when he died in August 2000.  He had amassed one of the most important personal libraries of his time.  He had been slavishly attached to his hard-one trophies, the papers he guarded tenaciously, the delicate objects he cherished (as Genet noted) to the point of fetishism, the mementos of both well-known and unknown personalities he loved with an almost maniacal obsession.  He was proud of the souvenirs that came to him as a result of his willingness to get involved, as in the case of Proust, with friends and family, in the hopes of acquiring one more keepsake, one more palpable testimony.�? p 111  Proust’s Overcoat