Aunt Leonie who, after the death of her husband, my Uncle Octave, no longer wished to leave, first Combray, then within Combray her house, then her bedroom, then her bed and no longer 'came down', always lying in an uncertain state of grief, physical debility, illness, obsession and piety.
Imagine that you wanted your children to learn the names of all their cousins, aunts and uncles. But you never actually let them meet or play with them. You just showed them pictures of them, and told them to memorize their names. Each day you'd have them recite the names, over and over again. You'd say, "OK, this is a picture of your great-aunt Beatrice. Her husband was your great-uncle Earnie. They had three children, your uncles Harpo, Zeppo, and Gummo. Harpo married your aunt Leonie ... yadda, yadda, yadda."
Brian X. Foley
It's commonplace to say that we 'love' a book, but when we say it, we mean all sorts of things. Sometimes we mean that a book was important to us in out youth, though we haven't picked it up in years; sometimes what we 'love' is an impressionistic idea glimpsed from afar (Combray... madeleins... Tante Leonie...) as apposed to the experience of wallowing and plowing through an actual text, and all too often people claim to love books they haven't read at all. Then there are books we love so much that we read every year or two, and know passages of them by heart; that cheer us up when we are sick or sad and never fail to amuse us when we take them up at random; that we pass on to all our friends and acquaintances; and to which we return again and again with undimmed enthusiasm over the course of a lifetime. I think it goes without saying ghat most books that engage readers on this very high levels are masterpieces; and this is why I believe that True Grit by Charles Portis is a masterpiece.
No sooner had the warm liquid mixed with the crumbs touched my palate than a shudder ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses, something isolated, detached, with no suggestion of its origin. And at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory - this new sensation having had on me the effect which love has of filling me with a precious essence; or rather this essence was not in me it was me... Whence did it come? What did it mean? How could I seize and apprehend it?... And suddenly the memory revealed itself. The taste was that of the little piece of madeleine which on Sunday mornings at Combray (because on those mornings I did not go out before mass), when I went to say good morning to her in her bedroom, my aunt Leonie used to give me, dipping it first in her own cup of tea or tisane. The sight of the little madeleine had recalled nothing to my mind before I tasted it. And all from my cup of tea.