Davis: 260-276; Moncrieff: 356-377
by Dennis Abrams
Dinner at the Verdurins’. Brichot. M. de Forcheville. Dr. Cottard, trying too hard, makes a bad pun about Blanche de Castille, “Whereas Swann, with his painful and useless attempt at a smile, revealed how stupid he thought the pun was, Forcheville had shown both that he relished its subtlety and that he had good manners, by containing within judicious limits a gaiety whose frankness had charmed Mme. Verdurin.” Swann is mocked by Cottard and the painter. Mme. Verdurin’s pedestrian tastes in art “…who considered The Night Watch the greatest masterpiece in the world along with the Ninth and the Winged Victory.” Mme. Cottard jokes about “Japanese salad,” a reference to the Dumas play Francillon that she had not seen. Swann makes clear his dislike for Francillon and Odette’s favorite play, Serge Panine. “Forgive me,” Swann said to her [Mme. Cottard] with irony, “but I confess that my lack of admiration is almost equally divided between the two masterpieces.” Swann defends the Duchess, Mme. La Tremoille, much to Mme. Verdurins’ fury. “You’d have to pay me handsomely before I’d let that sort enter my house.” Odette’s disappointment with Swann. Forcheville expresses his interest in Odette. Cottard’s response, “I’d rather have it in my bed than a slap with a wet fish.” Mme. Verdurin invites Forcheville to lunch with Odette, “We’re going to contrive to make it happen, but Swann mustn’t hear of it. You know, he puts a damper on things.” The Verdurins turn against Swann.
Yesterday’s reading, I think, pretty much spoke for itself. It was a ruthlessly brilliant description of a dinner party, using both conversation and observation to illuminate some of the most dislikable guests in literature. For any readers who may have been lacking sympathy for Swann, I’m hoping you’re now feeling a little differently about him.
Davis: Page 276 “Swann was still unaware of the disgrace that threatened him…” through Page 286 “…they would supply new instruments for torturing him.”
Moncrieff: Page 378 “Swann was still unconscious of the disgrace that threatened him…” through Page 392 “…to enrich the collection of instruments in his torture-chamber.”