by Dennis Abrams
The two ways. The walk to Swann’s house, Tansonville. Hawthorns. Marcel sees Gilberte and falls immediately in love. Marcel sees Mme. Swann and Charlus.
While on the surface, these ten pages contain nothing more than a walk and a chance encounter, they are ten pages that will reverate throughout In Search of Lost Time.
Davis: “For in the environs of Combray there were two “ways” which one could go for a walk, in such opposite directions that in fact we left our house by different doors when we wanted to go one way or the other: the Meseglise-la-Vineuse way, which we also called the way by Swann’s because we passed in front of M. Swann’s estate when we went in that direction, and the Guermantes Way. About Meseglise-la-Vinesue, to tell the truth, I never knew anything but the ‘way’ and some strangers who used to come and stroll around Combray on a Sunday, people whom, this time, even my aunt, along with all the rest of us, ‘did not know at all’ and whom because of this we assumed to be ‘people who must have come from Meseglise.’ As for Guermantes, I was to know more about it one day, but only much later; and during the whole of my adolescence, if for me Meseglise was something as inaccessible as the horizon, concealed from view, however far we went, by the folds of a landscape that no longer resembled the landscape of Combray, Guermantes, on the other hand, appeared to me only as the terminus, more ideal than real, of its own ‘way’ a sort of abstract geographical expression like the line of the equator, like the pole, like the Orient.”
The theme, the concept, the idea of the “two ways” in particular, is one that will not be resolved until the final pages of Time Regained.
And, I find myself struck and slightly taken aback by Marcel’s description of his attempt to will Gilberte to look at him, and her response.
Davis: “…she allowed her glances to stream out at full length in my direction, without any particular expression, without appearing to see me, but with a concentration and a secret smile that I could only interpret, according to the notions of good breeding instilled in me, as a sign of insulting contempt; and at the same time her hand sketched an indecent gesture for which, when it was directed in public at a person one did not know, the little dictionary of manners I carried inside me supplied only one meaning, that of intentional insolence.”
Your thoughts? Reactions? Favorite lines, descriptions and characterizations?
Davis, pg. 146 “”Leonie,” said my grandfather when we returned…” through page 158 “…when actually playing one of life’s vulgar scenes.”
Moncrieff, page 201 “”Leonie,” said my grandfather on our return,” through page 217 “…when they are obliged to play a part upon the vulgar stage of life.”