When we need to stay confined at home for a while, our senses, desperately on the lookout for what's happening outside, pick up either the noises or the unusual silence pierced by the songs of birds. Perhaps the confinement
has been an opportunity to read or reread authors sometimes forgotten on our library shelves.
Thus, I resumed reading Proust, in this curious period of confinement, not so much because it was largely recommended by magazines
as the writer lived part of his life, confined and withdrawn from the world. If I reread Proust, it was rather because as a voice giver I had to read aloud an excerpt of Proust from a book about Paris: a literary anthology, from François Villon
to Michel Houellebecq. One of the chosen texts was La Prisonnière (the Captive), in which Proust evokes the street merchants crying their various wares.
Paris is in the background of many pages of In
Search of Lost Time; However, Proust's Paris is essentially the wealthy neighbourhoods of the 7th, 8th and 16th districts, the meeting places of the high society, far from the more popular places photographed by Atget. However, simpler aspects of Paris
are also described by Proust, like the merchants in the streets. Atget captured a lot of them, as he was also looking for a lost time, that of an old Paris that had already disappeared or was inexorably disappearing.
following stroll is in a very distant Paris, inside the past, where the streets and the small yards are resounding with the cries of the small street merchants. Merchants, so well captured by Atget and their cries so well described by Proust in La Prisonnière
(the Captive), a title pretty well adapted to the circumstance. (April/May 2020).