Proust on miserliness



There were, of course, even at the Grand-Hôtel, guests who could enjoy living quite cheaply without forfeiting the good opinion of the manager, as long as he was sure their penny-pinching was motivated not by poverty but by miserliness. For miserliness, being a vice and therefore at home in any social class, is in no way incompatible with prestige.


In The Shadow of Young Girls in Flower, tr. James Grieve (Allen Lane 2003) p. 242.

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13 thoughts on “Proust on miserliness

  1. I read Christina Stead’s The Little Hotel and really enjoyed it–particularly the parts about the guests trying to wrangle special treatment at bargain basement prices.

  2. I haven’t read this – just went and looked at an old rv on ANZ litlovers and it sounds like one I’d like. Thanks! It’s an interesting observation that vices become just lovable eccentricities when attached to someone with prestige. As in the obituary of a high-achiever “he didn’t suffer fools gladly” means he had a foul temper and a big ego.

    1. I gave a copy to a friend who’d never heard of the author, and she loved it.

      Australian lit question: I’m reading the intro written by Charlotte Wood to I is for Isobel (Amy Witting) and she mentions that she “read Park and Stead, Anderson and Astley, Hewett and Jolley” but not Witting. I know all the names except Park. Who is that?

  3. Ruth Park, wrote a trilogy called The Harp in the South, much loved by followers of the little Aussie battler school of literature, though I haven’t read it. She was an interesting woman, made a real career as a writer at a time when it wasn’t easy. Married to D’arcy Niland also a novelist and short story writer.

  4. There was also a film made of D’arcy Niland’s ‘The Shiralee” about a swagman travelling the roads with his little daughter. Battler school is my little joke – it refers to heartwarming tales of struggle by ordinary Aussies. ‘Harp in the South’ is set in Sydney during the Depression, as far as I know, about the tragedies and triumphs of a big working-class family doing it tough.

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