And so, what I had believed to mean nothing to me was quite simply my whole life!

(Marcel Proust, Albertine Gone, tr. Terence Kilmartin, Chatto & Windus, London, 1989, p. 1)

Her person itself counts for little or nothing

As for Albertine herself, she scarcely existed in me save under the form of her name, which, but for certain rare moments of respite when I awoke, came and engraved itself upon my brain and continued incessantly to do so. If I had thought aloud, I should have kept on repeating it, and my speech would have been as monotonous, as limited, as if I had been transformed into a bird, a bird like the one in the fable whose song repeated incessantly the name of the woman it had loved when a man. One says the name to oneself, and since one remains silent it is as though one were inscribing it inside oneself, as though it were leaving its trace on one's brain, which must end up, like a wall on which somebody has amused himself scribbling, by being entirely covered with the name, written a thousand times over, of the woman one loves. One rewrites it all the time in one's mind when one is happy, and even more when one is unhappy. And one feels a constantly recurring need to repeat this name which brings one nothing more than what one already knows, until, in course of time, it wearies us. I did not even give a thought to carnal pleasure at this moment; I did not even see in my mind's eye the image of that Albertine who had been the cause of such an upheaval of my being, I did not perceive her body, and if I had tried to isolate the idea - for there is always one - that was bound up with my suffering, it would have been, alternately, on the one hand my doubt as to the intention with which she had left me, with or without any thought of returning, and on the other hand the means of bringing her back. Perhaps there is a symbol and a truth in the infinitesimal place occupied in our anxiety by the one who is its cause. The fact is that her person itself counts for little or nothing; what is almost everything is the series of emotions and anxieties which chance occurences have made us feel in the past in connexion with her and which habit has associated with her. What proves this clearly is (even more than the boredom which we feel in moments of happiness) the extent to which seeing or not seeing the person in question, being or not being admired by her, having or not having her at our disposal, will seem to us utterly irrelevant when we no longer have to pose ourselves the problem (so otiose that we shall no longer take the trouble to consider it) save in relation to the person herself - the series of emotions and anxieties being forgotten, at least so far as she is concerned, for it may have developed anew, but transferred to another. Before this, when it was still attached to her, we supposed that our happiness was dependent upon her person; it depended merely upon the cessation of our anxiety. Our unconscious was therefore more perspicacious than ourselves at that moment, when it made the figure of the beloved so minute, a figure which we had even perhaps forgotten, which we might have been comparatively unfamiliar with and thought mediocre, in the terrible drama in which seeing her again in order to cease waiting for her could be a matter of life and death for us. Minuscule proportions of the woman's form; logical and necessary effect of the manner in which love develops; clear allegory of the subjective nature of that love.

(ibid, pp. 14-5)

Falsehood becomes true

Time passes, and little by little everything that we have spoken in falsehood becomes true; I had learned this only too well with Gilberte; the indifference I had feigned while never ceasing to weep had eventually become a fact; gradually life, as I told Gilberte in a lying formula which retrospectively had come true, life has driven us apart.

(ibid, p. 42)