Here it is, where genius labored, where the magic of the final parts of In Search of Lost Time was conjured, unless you are a heretic like me who finds that novel uneven and feels that the best parts had been written earlier:
Is this what you were expecting? It threw me a little. Seems a bit cramped, no? A little more context might help:
I was in the Museé Carnavalet, a Paris museum on the subject of Paris, examining the reconstructions of writer’s rooms (the other writers airing the contents of their bedrooms are Anna de Noailles and Paul Léautaud, writers with no English reputation who I assume, bitterly, are as good as Proust). The shell of the space is a replica but the contents are authentic, if I understand this text, which I doubt. Follow that link to examine Proust’s furniture more closely, particularly that portrait. I assume the storage closet-like dimensions are a liberty of the curators.
The Museé Carnavalet was itself once, surprise, surprise, a writer’s house, a residence of Madame de Sévigné, the favorite writer of the grandmother of Proust’s mirror-image narrator. The pleasure and insight a visitor will receive from the museum will depend heavily on his taste for French furniture and curtains, but the building is a beauty, the collection of second-rate paintings take on greater meaning because of their common Paris theme, the old Paris shop signs are a delight, and then there’s this:
Why it is Villiers de l’Isle-Adam, the French Poe! Imagine the set of steps, the human effort, that was required to bring this magnificently insane artifact into existence.
The Museé Carnavalet is just a few steps away from the Place des Vosges and the Maison de Victor Hugo; in between is this artistic wonder:
That is a crumble d’agneau, or lamb crumble, obtainable, along with many other pleasant things, at Chez Janou. I certainly did not go to France to look at writer’s houses and 18th century furniture, but one has to do something between meals.