Swann's Way

The official discord server of the /r/TrueLit subreddit recently encouraged its members to translate something, anything, from any language into English (although I suppose it could have been into any language - the server language, however, is English.) I chose to translate the first passage of Marcel Proust's Swann's Way. It was an extremely informative and enjoyable experience, and I hope to do some more translation, to brush up on my literary French - I anticipate I will translate something by De Maupassant not too long from now, and that will appear here as well.

french retreived from

For a long time, I would go to bed early. Occasionally, my candle scarcely extinguished, my eyes would close so quickly that I had not the time to say to myself: I'm falling asleep. And, a half-hour after, the thought that it was time to find rest would wake me; I would want to put away the book that I believed to still be in my hands and blow out my light; I had not ceased, while asleep, reflecting on that which I had just been reading, but these reflections had taken on a somewhat particular direction; it seemed to me that I was myself who the work spoke of: a church, a quartet, the rivalry of Francois I and Charles V. This belief would survive for a few seconds after my awakening, it was not a shock to my reason, but would weigh like scales on my eyes and hinder their realization that the candle was not lit. Then it would begin to be unintelligible to me, as after reincarnation the thoughts of a previous existence; the subject of the book would detach itself from me, I was free to apply it to myself or not; immediately I would recover my sight and be quite surprised to find around me a darkness, soft and restful to my eyes, but maybe even more so for my spirit, to whom it appeared like a thing without cause, incomprehensible, like a truly dark thing. I would ask myself what time it could be; I would hear the whistles of trains which, more or less remote, like birdsong in a forest, depending on the distance, would describe to me the extent of the deserted countryside where the traveller hastens towards the next station; and the narrow road that he follows will be engraved in his memory by the excitement he owes his new surroundings, to unaccustomed acts, to recent conversation and to the goodbyes under the strange lamplight that still follow him in the silence of the night, to the close softness of his return.