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La montagne qui bouge by Vink

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C'eÂtait je crois un malade. ] (CSB, 568) The feeling for nature, that is, the physical reaction to natural phenomena, is strikingly similar in Flaubert and Proust. The kind of ecstatic oneness with nature that readers identify as a Proustian privileged moment, whether an impression or a recollection, is based on an animal passivity that is described at some length in Jean Santeuil. The writer stipulates that this passivity is only relative, in that it affords the calm and mental space in which the imagination can function freely.

Il fallut recommencer aÁ vivre, aÁ se deÂtourner de soi . '] ( JS, 7). Flaubert took the same positive view of his `maladie des nerfs'; accepting, and having others accept, his debility established the perfect conditions for creative self-absorption. In two letters from the year following his collapse in Pont-L'EveÃque, he con®rms his satisfaction: My malady has had the advantage of allowing me to occupy myself as I please, which is an important point in life. I see nothing in the world more desirable for me than a nice, well-heated room, with the books I love and all the leisure time I want.

In Contre Sainte-Beuve, Jeanne Proust plays the role of silent interlocutor in a dialogue where her son assesses Sainte-Beuve's contribution to nineteenth-century literary criticism. Nowhere is she more present than in the chapter on Sainte-Beuve and Baudelaire, where the text invokes the intimate `tu' in almost every paragraph. Here, Proust's task is to explain to a maternal interlocutor Baudelaire's attraction to female homosexuality and the apparent cruelty of certain letters and poems. Part of his tactic is to underline that Baudelaire had a nervous nature and experienced acute suffering in his own life.

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