Moncrieff: 166-177; Treharne: 121-128
by Dennis Abrams
Marcel’s interest in the rankings and classifications of the different officers, “just as in the old days, I used to make my schoolfriends classify the actors of the Theatre-Francais.” Prince de Borodino, who may be more than a nephew of the sovereign, and “might” be a direct descendant of both Napoleon I and II, and his attitude towards Saint-Loup. “If the Prince de Borordino was not prepared to make overtures either to Saint-Loup or to the other representatives of the Faubourg Saint-Germain in the regiment (whereas he frequently invited two subalterns of plebeian origin who were pleasant companions) it was because, looking down on them all from the height of his Imperial grandeur, he drew between these two classes of inferiors the distinction that one set consisted of inferiors who knew themselves to be such and with whom he was delighted to consort, being beneath his outward majesty of a simple, jovial nature, and the other of inferiors who thought themselve his superiors, a claim which he could not allow.” His likely parentage seen through Borodino. “But as the spirit of an artist continues, for many years after he is dead, to model the statue which he carved, so those preoccupations had taken shape in him, were materialised in him, it was them that his face reflected. It was with the sharpness of the first Emperor in his voice that he addressed a reprimand to a corporal, with the dreamy melancholy of ths second that he exhaled a puff of cigarette-smoke.” Saint-Loup arranges for Marcel to receive a telephone call from his grandmother.
A couple of things:
1. I loved this passage about the telephone:
“We need only, so that the miracle may be accomplished, apply our lips to the magic orifice and invoke — occasionally for rather longer than seems to us necessary, I admit — the Vigilant Virgins to whose voices we listen every day without ever coming to know their faces and who are our guardian angels in the dizzy realm of darkness whose portals they so jealously guard; the All-Powerful by whose intervention the absent rise up at our side, without our being permitted to set eyes on them; the Danaids of the unseen who incessantly empty and fill and transmit to one another the urns of sound; the ironic Furies who, just as we were murmuring a confidence to a loved one, in the hope that one could never us, cry brutally: “I’m listening!”; the ever-irritable handmaidens of the Mystery, the unbrageous priestesses of the Invisible, the Young Ladies of the Telephone.”
Who else can make a phone call so…magical?
2. And from the more things stay the same department..
“And yet habit requires so short a time to divest of their mystery the sacred forces with which we are in contact, that, not having had my call at once, my immediate thought was that it all very long and very inconvenient, and I almost decided to lodge a complaint.”
Why isn’t my home page loading faster?????
3. And finally, an interesting bit of information regarding Marcel Proust and the telephone:
“William C. Carter’s generous and rigorous biography of novelist Marcel Proust. In Marcel Proust: A Life, Carter writes that, in 1911, “Proust subscribed to a new service that brought opera, concerts, and plays into the home. For a fee of sixty francs a month, the subscriber received a theatrophone, a large black ear-trumpet connected through telephone to eight Paris theaters and concert halls… Although the sound quality was often poor, the instrument was a great boon to someone like Proust, who loved opera and the theater but who rarely felt well enough to attend performances. He often listened, even when the sound was so bad he could barely hear the words.”
Moncrieff: Page 175 “That afternoon, alas, at Doncieres,” through Page 185 “…an overburdened old woman who I did not know.”
Treharne: Page 128 “Alas, that afternoon in Doncieres…” through Page 135 “…a crushed old woman whom I did not know.”