Moncrieff: 516-527; Grieve: 380-388
by Dennis Abrams
Marcel returns to the hotel to rest before dining at Rivebelle with Saint-Loup. The hotel, once so strange and menacing, is now familiar. “I addressed a smile to the manager…his features had become familiar to me, charged with a meaning that was of no importance but none the less intelligible like a script which one can read, and had ceased in any way to resemble those strange and repellent characteristics which had face had presented to me on that first day, which I had seen before me a personage now forgotten, or if I had succeeded in recalling him, unrecognizable…” The “lift” boy. The first mention of “the Simonet girl,” and Marcel’s interest, “I do not know why I said to myself from the first that the name Simonet must be that of one of the band of girls, from that moment I never ceased to wonder how I could get to know the Simonet family, get to know them, moreover, through people whom they would consider superior to themselves (which ought not to be difficult if they were only common little wenches) so that they might not form a disdainful idea of me.” The view from the hallway window. The changing light, view, and “paintings” seen from Marcel’s bedroom as he rests before dinner. Dressing, and the anticipation of dinner at Rivebelle. Aime arrives with the latest list of visitors.
Given that I seemed to have gotten carried away with yesterday’s post, I’m going to try and keep this short and ask a simple question. I suspect that for most readers of Proust, that there are aspects of his writing, that there are sections read during which the eyes begin to glaze over, longueurs begin to set in, and one wishes that he would just, as much as I hate to say it, get on with it.
For some, it’s his philosophical discussions of love and of his own relationships in particular. For others, it’s the parties and his perceived snobbery and attraction to the aristocracy. For me, it’s the descriptions of landscapes, changing light, etc. — in yesterday’s reading, for example, in the pages where Marcel is looking out his bedroom as he rests before dinner. As much as I appreciate his artistry, and his way of making me see what he is describing in ways I’ve never seen them before, at the same time, I find myself idly looking ahead, anxious to find out when the dialogue begins again, the scene changes, when something else will begin to happen.
Of course, at the same time, I read every word attentively, because there’s always going to be a description like this to grab one’s attention, Marcel’s description of riding silently with the lift-boy.
“It was he now who stood there and received no answer during the short journey on which he threaded his way through the hotel, which, hollowed out like a toy, deployed around us, floor by floor, the ramifications of its corridors in the depths of which the light grew velvety, lost its tone, blurred the communicating doors or the steps of the service stairs which it transformed into that amber haze, unsubstantial and mysterious as a twilight, in which Rembrandt picks out here and there a window-sill or a well-head. And on each landing a golden light reflected from the carpet indicated the setting sun and the lavatory window.”
Who else is going to link Rembrandt, golden light, the setting sun and the lavatory window?
So my question: What aspect of Proust (if there is one) is the one that gives you problems?
Moncrieff: Page 527 “Aime could not go away without telling me…” through Page 540 “…and the hopes of its hive.”
Grieve: Page 388 “Before he left the room…” through Page 397 “…and all hope of ever reaching the hive.”