by Dennis Abrams
In yesterday’s reading, Marcel longed for his mother’s kiss. M. Swann was introduced, and the Narrator proposed that “Even the very simple act that we call ‘seeing a person we know’ is in part an intellectual one. ” And, I’d like to suggest that bemusement is the proper response to the family’s reaction to their slow realization that M. Swann may play a different role then the one they know in the world outside their garden.
Since several of the responses to yesterday’s post were questions regarding the narrator’s age, I thought I’d attempt to answer the question. Proust leaves Marcel’s age purposely vague, but in his book Narrative Discourse: An Essay in Method, Gerard Genette does propose the following timeline which, although it may not be exact, will provide you with a rough approximation of how the series proceeds. (We will go into the subject in much greater depth as we proceed through the books.)
Swann in Love: 1877-78
The birth of the Narrator and Gilberte: 1878
Combray I: 1883-1892
Gilberte: 1892-spring 1895
Balbec I: summer 1897
Guermantes: fall 1897 – summer 1899
Balbec II: summer 1900
Albertine: autumn 1900 – start of 1902
Venice: spring 1902
Tansonville: 1903 (possibly)
The War: 1914 and 1916
Matinee Guermantes: Approximately 1925
Davis, page 23 to the end of the first paragraph, page 34.
Modern Library/Moncrieff et al.: page 29 to the end of the first paragraph, page 44.
Kindle/Moncrieff et al.: Locations 337-44 to top of 523-30