On how opinions are made

by look i have opinions

“This new concept of ‘the finest, highest achievement in the realm of art’ had no sooner entered my mind than it located the imperfect enjoyment I had had at the theater, and added to it a little of what it lacked; this made such a heady mixture that I exclaimed, ‘What a great artiste she is!’ It may be thought I was not altogether sincere. Think, however, of so many writers who, in a moment of dissatisfaction with a piece they have just written, may read a eulogy of the genius of Chateaubriand, or who may think of some other great artist whom they have dreamed of equaling, who hum to themselves a phrase of Beethoven for instance, comparing the sadness of it to the mood they have tried to capture in their prose, and are then so carried away by that perception of genius that they let it affect the way they read their own piece, no longer seeing it as they first saw it, but going so far as to hazard an act of faith in the value of it, by telling themselves, ‘It’s not bad, you know!’ without realizing that the sum total which determines their ultimate satisfaction includes the memory of Chateaubriand’s brilliant pages, which they have assimilated to their own, but which, of course, they did not write.”

In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower, Marcel Proust, translated by James Grieve