From Latin fugere, to flee, its first OED mention comes in 1634 from Edward Rainbow, Bishop of Carlisle, with "fugatious words, which escape the eares pursuit". The noun soon followed. Johnson could have quoted himself: "the fugacity of pleasure, the fragility of beauty".
SOME CALL Proust's great comic novel long; they miss the point, for it takes no longer than 10 dim novels, and to call it slow is a misnomer. As William Carter's The Proustian Quest emphasises, it forms a cusp of history, an era when - sea, land and air - life sped up. "The girls on bicycles to whom he is attracted become winged creatures and possess a charm unknown to ordinary girls . . . the problem of speed, desire, and fugacity must be solved before he can discover his vocation as a writer."