Monday, August 07, 2006

Pieter de Hooch

He would begin with the sustained violin tremolos that are heard alone for a few measures, occupying the entire foreground, then all of a sudden they seemed to move away and, as in those paintings by Pieter de Hooch, which assume greater depth because of the narrow frame of a half-open door, away in the distance, in a different color, in the velvet of an interposed light, the little phrase would appear, dancing, pastoral, interpolated, episodic, belong to another world.

--Marcel Proust, Swann's Way

The Lydia Davis translation does note that de Hooch was a Dutch painter known of his handling of light and perspective, but a visual of a mother looking for lice in her daughter's hair is always of use, is it not?

(Cross-posted at Involuntary Memory)


  1. That's what makes Proust and de Hooch so impressive. They take mundane things that we do everyday (granted we don't look for lice everyday,) and make them grand. Reading a book, listening to music, sitting with your child, take on more gravity and somehow seem more worthwhile.

  2. There's a chapt in How Proust Can Change Your Life on this very subject. :)

  3. Having examined school children for lice, it's something intense and caring, intimate. In that world, no doubt it was a daily exercise.


"I don't believe in ghosts, but I see them all the time."

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