Moncrieff: 82-93; Treharne: 61-69
by Dennis Abrams
Marcel is “genuinely in love with Mme de Guermantes,” and dreams that she would become totally dependent on him. “The greatest happiness that I could have asked of God would have been that he should send down on her every imaginable calamity, and that ruined, despised, stripped of all the privileges that separated her from me, having no longer any home of her own or people who would condescend to speak to her, she could come to me for asylum.” Marcel realizes Mme de Guermantes’ displeasure at his stalking her. As with Gilberte, he cannot bring himself to not stalk her. Marcel (as with Odette, as with Albertine) imagines a friend of Mme de Guermantes telling her what a fine person Marcel is. Despite having ignored Saint-Loup, and despite the fact that “the friendship and admiration that Saint-Loup had shown me seemed to me undeserved and had hitherto left me unmoved,” and despite the fact that Marcel hates to leave home and his mother and grandmother, Marcel decides to visit Saint-Loup to enlist his help in becoming friends with Mme de Guermantes. Marcel surprises Saint-Loup with a visit to his barracks at Doncieres, and learns that Saint-Loup, having just had a week’s leave, can’t go off duty for another week. Saint-Loup’s overwhelming solicitude and understanding of Marcel, worrying about him having to spend the night alone. “‘Yes…I assure you that I fully understand and sympathise with what you are going through. I feel wretched,’ he went on, laying his hand affectionately on my shoulder, ‘when I think that I could have stayed with you tonight, I might have been able, by chatting to you till morning, to relieve you a little of your unhappiness.” Waiting for Saint-Loup to speak to his Captain, Marcel goes into the barracks to wait for him in his quarters. “It was here, in this charming room, that I could have dined and slept with a calm and happy mind. Saint-Loup seemed almost to be present in it by reason of the text-books which littered his table, between his photographs, among which I recognised my own and that of the Duchesse de Guermantes, by reason of the fire which had at length grown accustomed to the grate, and, like an animal crouching in an ardent, noiseless, faithful watchfulness, merely let fall now and then a smouldering log which crumbled into sparks, or licked with a tongue of flame the sides of the chimney.” The differences between sounds and silences. “And in this connexion we may wonder whether, in the case of love (to which we may even add the love of life and fame, since there are, it appears, persons who are acquainted with these latter sentiments), we shouldn’t act like those who, when a noise disturbs them, bring out attention, our defences, to bear on ourselves, give them as an object to subdue not the external being whom we love, but our capacity for suffering through that being.”
Two general questions for the group:
1. Saint-Loup obviously has deep feelings of friendship for Marcel. What is yur reaction to the way in which Marcel, despite his basic rejection of the very idea of friendship, is willing to use Saint-Loup to get close to Mme de Guermantes.
2. And, when Marcel/the Narrator frankly admits, “I was genuinely in love with Mme de Guermantes,” what, exactly do you think he means by that? Who or what was he in love with?
Moncrieff: Page 93 “To return to the problem of sound…” through Page 95 “…give a mauve softness to the pure sky above.”
Treharne: Page 69 “To return to the question of sound…” through Page 77 “…to give a mauve softness to the clear sky.”