The following passage struck me more than many other equally notable parts. Justine is a novel for rereading as one ages.
But by some curious paradox it was these very defects of character--these vulgarities of the psyche--which constituted for me the greatest attraction of this weird kinetic personage. I suppose in some way they corresponded to weaknesses in my own character which I was lucky to be able to master more thoroughly than she could. I know that for us love-making was only a small part of the total picture projected by a mental intimacy which proliferated and ramified daily around us. How we talked! Night after night in shabby sea-front cafes (trying ineffectually to conceal from Nessim and other common friends an attachment for which we felt guilty). As we talked we insensibly drew nearer and nearer to each other until we were holding hands, or all but in each others' arms: not from the customary sensuality which afflictss lovers but as if the physical contact could ease the pain of self-exploration. (134)Justine is 250 pages of this kind of intelligent but not arrogant literariness--I mean to say that this book conveys things that cannot be conveyed in anything but the novel form. I'm at a loss as to how to analyze this work effectively. The work does not make me feel; it makes me want to feel. The narrator is not direct, nor the "action" (there is only one "action scene" in the whole narrative, where the narrator's sense of time matches with his story). A novel of the everyday made abstract, not with ideas (of society, religion, etc.) to expound and fight around--there are no concerns or preoccupations in this novel. A novel of observation--of city (Alexandria, Egypt), of time (history, human memory), and of the psyche (minus the "psyche" baggage). Justine is not "luminous"; instead it's visionary--the visionary of looking toward the vista's horizon instead of the night sky.