Proust is interested in minutiae because life, as he sees it, is seldom ever about things, but about our impression of things, not about facts, but about the interpretation of facts, not about one particular feeling but about a confluence of conflicting feelings. Everything is elusive in Proust, because nothing is ever certain. He isn’t interested in characters the way Tolstoy and Dickens are interested in characters; he is interested in the vivisection of identity, in people who turn out to be everything they claim they are not, in relationships that are always inscrutably opaque, in situations that conceal an underside that ends up flattering neither the betrayer nor the betrayed. It is Proust’s implacable honesty, his reluctance to cut corners or to articulate what might have been good enough or credible enough in any other writer that make him the introspective genius he is.
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