Often but a little at a time

From early in the first volume fo Du Cote de Chez Swann.  I’ve taken the same habit as the narrator’s grandfather – whose few appearances, incidentally, usually involve him pronouncing a summing epigram (in a scene nearby he quotes, in relation to wife’s sisters, a line from Corneille – Seigneur, que de vertus vous nous faites haïr!, Lord what virtues you make us detest).

Il ne put pourtant pas se consoler de la mort de sa femme, mais pendant les deux années qu’il lui survécut, il disait à mon grand-père : « C’est drôle, je pense très souvent à ma pauvre femme, mais je ne peux y penser beaucoup à la fois. » « Souvent mais peu à la fois, comme le pauvre père Swann », était devenu une des phrases favorites de mon grand-père qui la prononçait à propos des choses les plus différentes.

He was not, however, able to be consoled after the death of his wife but during the two years that he survived her he said to my grandfather: “It’s curious, I think quite often of my poor wife but I can’t think of her much at any one time.”  “Often but a little at a time, like poor papa Swann” became one of the favorite phrases of my grandfather, who said it in relation to the most different sorts of things.

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