It no longer shocked anyone and that was all about it

From Proust’s Le Temps retrouvé (v.4 pg. 305 of the Pleiade). I think most failures to appreciate Proust’s commentaries on the laws of flux governing public and private opinion could be solved by ctrl+f replacing Dreyfus with whatever the most recent hub of contention had been.

In society (and this social phenomenon is only the application of a much more general psychological law) whether novelties are reprehensible or not, they only excite consternation until they have been assimilated and defended by reassuring elements. As it had been with Dreyfusism, so it was with the marriage of Saint-Loup and Odette’s daughter, a marriage people protested against at first. Now that people met everyone they knew at the Saint-Loups’, Gilberte might have had the morals of Odette herself, people would have gone there just the same and would have agreed with Gilberte in condemning undigested moral novelties like a dowager-duchess. Dreyfusism was now integrated in a series of highly respectable and customary things. As to asking what it amounted to in itself, people now thought as little about accepting as formerly about condemning it. It no longer shocked anyone and that was all about it.

Dans le monde (et ce phénomène social n’est, d’ailleurs, qu’une application d’une loi psychologique bien plus générale), les nouveautés coupables ou non n’excitent l’horreur que tant qu’elles ne sont pas assimilées et entourées d’éléments rassurants. Il en était du dreyfusisme comme du mariage de Saint-Loup avec la fille d’Odette, mariage qui avait d’abord fait crier. Maintenant qu’on voyait chez les Saint-Loup tous les gens « qu’on connaissait », Gilberte aurait pu avoir les mœurs d’Odette elle-même que, malgré cela, on y serait « allé » et qu’on eût approuvé Gilberte de blâmer comme une douairière des nouveautés morales non assimilées. Le dreyfusisme était maintenant intégré dans une série de choses respectables et habituelles. Quant à se demander ce qu’il valait en soi, personne n’y songeait, pas plus pour l’admettre maintenant qu’autrefois pour le condamner. Il n’était plus « shocking ». C’était tout ce qu’il fallait.

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