A young Marcel Proust at Combray with the famous magic lantern (via)
"... at Combray on Sunday mornings one had the delight of emerging upon a festive street, but where that street was paved with water of a sapphire blue, refreshed by little ripples of cooler air, and of so solid a colour that my tired eyes might, in quest of relaxation and without fear of its giving way, rest their gaze upon it."
— Proust, Albertine disparue, 1925, trans. C. K. Moncrieff and Robert Kilmartin
"I am finishing a book which in spite of its provisional title: Contre Sainte-Beuve, souvenir d'une matinée, is a genuine novel and an extremely indecent one in places. One of the principal characters is a homosexual. And this I count on you to keep strictly secret. If the fact were known before the book appeared a number of devoted and apprehensive friends would ask me to abandon it. Moreover I fancy it contains some new things (forgive me!) and I shouldn't like to be robbed by others. The name of Sainte-Beuve is not there by chance. The book does indeed end with a long conversation about Sainte-Beuve and about aesthetics (if you like, as Sylvie ends with a study of a popular song) and once people have finished the book they will see (I hope) that the whole novel is simply the implementation of the artistic principles expressed in this final part, a sort of preface if you like, placed at the end."
— Proust writing to publisher Alfred Vallette as A la recherche du temps perdu was emerging from his earlier piece, Contre Sainte-Beuve, August 1909. As quoted in William C. Carter's Marcel Proust: A Life.