Whenever we travelled with my grandmother to Combray she always made us break the journey at Chartres. Without being too sure why, she thought its two bell-towers had that absence of vulgarity and affectation which she found in nature when the hand of man does not smarten it up, and in those books which, subject to two provisoes -- nothing vulgar, and nothing shoddy -- she thought harmless to children, those beings who have nothing vulgar or shoddy about them. I think she would have said that they "looked natural" and looked "distinguished." In any case, she loved them, and thought we should be the better for seeing them. As she knew nothing at all about architecture, she had not learned that she ought to admire them, and said: "My dears, you'll laugh at me -- they don't match, they may not be beautiful 'according to the rules,' but their unsymmetrical old faces please me. There is something about their ruggedness that I like very much. I feel that if they played the piano they would make it sing." And she looked at them so wholeheartedly that her head and her glance strained upward, one would have said she was longing to soar up in company with them, while she continued to smile tenderly at the old weather-beaten stonework.
Marcel Proust, On Art and Literature 1896-1919, page 253, translated by Sylvia Townsend Warner. Photo.