Monday, August 23, 2010

magic lantern magic

I know I just mentioned magic lantern slides, but I stumbled on these from the late1890s/early 1900s on a really pretty tumblr blog called "Mothic Flights and Flutterings" and I just had to share. No wonder the French writer Marcel Proust was so fixated on the magic lantern from his childhood... 

"At Combray, as every afternoon ended, long before the time when I should have to go up to bed, and to lie there, unsleeping, far from my mother and grandmother, my bedroom became the fixed point on which my melancholy and anxious thoughts were centred. Some one had had the happy idea of giving me, to distract me on evenings when I seemed abnormally wretched, a magic lantern, which used to be set on top of my lamp while we waited for dinner-time to come: in the manner of the master-builders and glass-painters of gothic days it substituted for the opaqueness of my walls an impalpable iridescence, supernatural phenomena of many colours, in which legends were depicted, as on a shifting and transitory window...."

"...But my sorrows were only increased, because this change of lighting destroyed, as nothing else could have done, the customary impression I had formed of my room, thanks to which the room itself, but for the torture of having to go to bed in it, had become quite endurable. For now I no longer recognised it, and I became uneasy, as though I were in a room in some hotel or furnished lodging, in a place where I had just arrived, by train, for the first time." 

Quoted passage from the Overture of "Swann's Way" (1913) which is the 1st volume of Proust's 7 volume novel. The name of the entire work is  "À la recherche du temps perdu" which is translated as Remembrance of Things Past" or as "In Search of Lost Time." You wanted to know all that, right?

{Larger versions of these slides can be found here or here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.}

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