Sata Yoshirō, “A Boat Cast Adrift” (Ukifune), 1966. Osaragi Jirō Museum, Tokyo.

We reached the end of The Fugitive. The same stories and desires repeat, but now in a pale, world-weary register. My friend Janine said it reminded her of the end of the Tale of Genji, when, after hundreds of pages of pursuing Ukifune, Kaoru is still at it. Still jealous, imagining that “some lover” has secretly installed her at Ono. He will keep pursuing her, we know, even as the floating bridge breaks off. Proust’s narrator has lost his Albertine. But she has not escaped him by dying any more than Ukifune escaped Kaoru. Now, he is “keeping a girl in Paris.” “For even if one love has passed into oblivion, it may determine the form of the love that is to follow (921).” Albertine, whose name derives from bericht meaning “light” or “famous” has been replaced by a pale and nameless substitute. She too is shut up in the narrator’s prison. Both books, at this late point, are haunted by past figures. Genji is long gone and has taken his light with him, making the darkness of Uji all the more palpable. What would Grandmother have made of these marriages? Again and again, we see venal people. People who cannot renounce their attachments. People who scheme and plan.  It could all go on much longer. Life could go on. Proust would have gone on writing had he lived longer. So would Murasaki Shikibu. But somehow, now, the wheels are just spinning in the air. The same cycle is repeating, with the color drained out..