Moncrieff: 625-636; Grieve: 457-464
by Dennis Abrams
Walking with Marcel, Albertine talks with Octave, a young man carrying a bag of golf clubs, and a self-professed “wash-out,” but does not introduce him to Marcel. “Come, come, she exclaimed, “I can’t introduce you to a gigolo! This place simply swarms with them! but what on earth would they have to say to you?” (Interestingly, Grieve translates “gigolo” as “lounge lizard.”) Marcel and Albertine encounter Bloch, who Marcel does not introduce to Albertine. Bloch informs Marcel that he is going to go to Doncieres to see Saint-Loup, but Marcel is far too interested (or obsessed) in Albertine and her friends to consider making the trip. Albertine admits that Bloch is “not a bad-looking boy…but he makes me feel quite sick.” And then, “When I told her on this first day that his name was Bloch, she exclaimed: ‘I would have betted anything he was a Yid. Typical of their creepy ways.” Marcel is not sure whether his conversation means anything to her, “without being any more conscious of where my words were falling, of what became of them, than if I were dropping pebbles into a bottomless pit.” Albertine’s hardness, insensitivity, and rudeness for anyone outside of her little group. Marcel meets Andree, the tall one “who had jumped over the banker…” The sisters d’Ambresac. Albertine praises Mme Elstir’s dress, “She’s very simply turned out, I admit, but she dresses wonderfully, and to get what you call simplicity costs her a fortune.” From Elstir, Albertine’s taste in clothing and art has improved, but not yet her taste in music, evidenced by her enthusiasm for Cavalleria Rusticana. Albertine explains that in her group of friends, “Andree, I must say, is remarkably clever. She’s a good girl, though perfectly weird at times, but the others are really dreadfully stupid.”
What struck me from this section (besides the realization that both Albertine and Bloch have friends that they are embarrassed of) was this paragraph, which relates closely to one I cited yesterday.
“That our words are, as a general rule, filled by the people to whom we address them with a meaning which those people derive from their own substance, a meaning widely different from that which we had put into the same words when we uttered them, is a fact which is perpetually demonstrated in daily life.”
If the way we see and understand other people can’t be trusted, if our very words are bound to be misinterpreted by the people we’re trying to communicate with…
The Weekend’s Reading:
Moncrieff: Page 636 “When I had left Albertine…” through Page 669 :…a vague dazzlement that had spread from brain to eyes.”
Grieve: Page 464 “As soon as Albertine had gone…” through Page 489 “…an unfocused daze of the delighted eyes.”
Enjoy your weekend. And enjoy.