Davis: 340-355; Moncrieff: 465-487
by Dennis Abrams
Swann enters the room. The cousins, the Marquise de Cambrener, a woman with few acquaintances, and Mme. de Franquetot, a woman very well connected. Saint Francis Speaking to the Birds by Liszt. The Marquise de Gallardon, whose claim to fame, shaky as it may be, is her alliance with the Guermantes. Her anger that she had never received an invitation or a visit from her cousin, the Princesse de Laumes. Her excuse for never having received one: she would never go to a home where she might meet Princesse Mathilde. The unexpected arrival of the Princesse des Laumes. The unfashionability of Chopin. Mme. de Gallardon forces herself upon the Princesse de Laumes, who laughs at her. Mme. de Gallardon’s reaction to Swann’s attendance: “Oh, I know he’s intelligent,” she added, meaning he was a schemer, “but still and all, a Jew in the home of the sister and sister-in-law of two archbishops,” continuing “I know he’s a convert, and even his parents and grandparents before him. But they do say converts remain more attached to their religion than anyone else, that’s it all a pretense…” A conversation between the Princesse des Laumes and General de Froberville, who is making eyes at the young Mme. de Cambremer. The wit of the Guermantes family. The infidelities of Basin, the Princesse des Laumes’ husband. The mutual understanding of Swann and the Princesse des Laumes.
I love this scene, as the Narrator’s eye travels the room, stopping here, stopping there. It’s our first glimpse of this world, one that we will be spending much time in as the work progresses.
One of my favorite descriptions:
“…while Mme. de Cambremer, being a woman who had received a strong musical education, marked time with her head transformed into the arm of a metronome whose amplitude and rapidity of oscillations from one shoulder to the other had become such (with that sort of frenzy and abandon in the eyes characteristic of suffering which is no longer aware of itself nor tried to control itself and says ‘I can’t help it’) that she kept snagging her solitaires in the strapd of her bodice and was obliged to straighten the black grapes she had in her hair, though without ceasing to accelerate her motion.”
Davis: Page 355 “Swann declined; having told M. de Charlus…” through Page 366 “…since the table turning!”
Moncrieff: Page 487 “Swann declined. Having told M. de Charlus…” through Page 501 “…since the table-turning!”