This method of Sainte-Beuve ignores what a very slight degree of self-acquaintance teaches us: that a book is the product of a different self from the self we manifest in our habits, in our social life, in our vices. If we would try to understand that particular self, it is by searching our own bosoms, and trying to reconstruct it there, that we may arrive at it. … In fact, it is the secretions of one’s innermost self, written in solitude and for oneself alone that one gives to the public. What one bestows on private life – in conversation…or in those drawing-room essays that are scarcely more than conversation in print – is the product of a quite superficial self, not of the innermost self which one can only recover by putting aside the world and the self that frequents the world.
Marcel Proust, Against Sainte-Beuve