Why Madeleines?

The translation of Marcel Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu says perhaps as much about the translator as the author. His most prominent work––in seven volumes––is translated as either a Remembrance of Things Past, or the more literal In Search of Lost Time.

The Madeleine Project is interested in both the memories of our interviewees and in recapturing the moments which influenced their artistic and professional paths.

So, why Madeleines?

Well, besides being delicious, Proust famously waxes lyrical about dunking the French pastry in his teacup and how it transports him instantaneously back to his childhood.

“I raised to my lips a spoonful of the cake . . . a shudder ran through my whole body and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary changes that were taking place.”

“The sight of the little madeleine had recalled nothing to my mind before I tasted it….” but “….as soon as I had recognized the taste of the piece of madeleine soaked in her decoction of lime-blossom which my aunt used to give me …. immediately the old grey house upon the street, where her room was, rose up like a stage set to attach itself to the little pavilion opening on to the garden which had been built out behind it for my parents.”

Marcel Proust,  À la recherche du temps perdu

Here at the Madeleine Project, we want to know what your madeleine is. Is it a song, a smell, a scarf at the back of your closet? What transports you back to your past and how did that make you who you are today?

Adhering to the adage that you can’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been, the goal of this project is to create a collage of experience that allows authors, agents, editors, and readers to interact in a new way.

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