This brilliant little book by the photographer Brassai is a fascinating study of the importance in Proust's life and writing of photography; Proust was an avid collector of photographs of his friends and social acquaintances, sometimes to the point of obsession.
Brassai (Gyula Halász) himself was born in Transylvania and after moving to France learned the language through reading Proust. He writes:
'In his battle against Time, that enemy of our precarious existence, ever on the offensive though never openly so, it was in photography, also born of an age-old longing to halt the moment, to wrest it from the flux of 'dureé' in order to 'fix' it forever in a semblance of eternity, that Proust found his best ally.'
The epigraph at the begining of Brassai's book is a quote from A L'Ombre des Jeunes Filles en Fleures:
'Pleasures are like photographs: those taken in the beloved's presence no more than negatives, to be developed later, once you are at home, having regained the use of that interior darkroom, access to which is 'condemned' as long as you are seeing other people.'
And when upon my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude.