Matutinals & Lucubrators by Iain Bamforth

Iain Bamforth

Matutinals & Lucubrators

 

‘Longtemps, je me suis couché de bonne heure’ is the celebrated incipit of Du côté de chez Swann (1913), the first part of Proust’s giant masterpiece. Going to bed at a decent time has never been one of my accomplishments, though I’ve tried. Working for three years in the late 2000s in Indonesia, an equatorial country where, all year long, dusk falls promptly at 6pm and day resumes at 6am, with very little gloaming or gradation, it quickly became clear to me that I would have to adapt. And adapt I did. But after returning to Europe, I fell back into my old habit of working till 2am before reclining for the night.

This was a habit I got into when our children were small and the end of the day – usually once my wife had gone to bed too – was the only time I could read and write without interruption. And now I think about it, it probably went back further than parenthood: I recall my father reminding me, with one of those clichés he loved, that I was burning the candle at both ends.

Paul Valéry was famous for getting up to think and write very early in the morning, in the interval ‘entre la lampe et le soleil’. This time of day was propitious to the writing of his ‘aubades’, or dawn songs. The famous Cahiers that he extended daily for half

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