Moncrieff: 669-679; Treharne: 485-492
by Dennis Abrams
The Comtesse d’Arpajon, the duke’s soon to be former mistress, tells Marcel that he should visit her aunt’s chateau at the Cote d’Or, because of her collection of “absolutely fascinating correspondences between all the most prominent people of the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries,” in addition to all of M. de Bornier’s manuscripts. M. de Guermantes sets up his wife to tell the story of her encounter with M. de Bornier at the Austrian Embassy. “Dear Hoyos imagined he was giving me a great treat by planting that pestiferous academician on the chair next to mine. I quite thought I had a squadron of mounted police sitting beside me. I was obliged to stop my nose as best I could all through dinner; I didn’t dare breathe until the gruyere came round.” The Comtesse d’Arpajon claims that Flaubert’s letters are far “superior to his books…because one sees from everything he says about the difficulty he has in writing a book that he wasn’t a real writer, a gifted man.” Mme de Guermantes speaks of her fondness for Gambetta’s correspondence, thereby proving “she was not afraid to be found taking an interest in a proletarian and a radical.” M. de Guermantes states his tastes in literature and music are “terribly old-fashioned…in the evenings, if my wife sits down to the piano, I find myself calling for some old tune by Auber or Boieldieu, or even Beethoven!…As for Wagner, he sends me to sleep at once.” Mme de Guermantes proclaims her belief in Wagner’s genius. “And the Spinning Chorus in the Flying Dutchman is a perfect marvel.” Balzac and Charlus. The poetry of Victor Hugo. Mme de Guermantes declares that Mme d’Arpajon “doesn’t understand the first thing,” about poetry, adding “She has become literary since she’s been forsaken…it’s I who have to bear the brunt of it because it’s to me that she comes to complain whenever Basin hasn’t been to see her, which is practically every day. But it isn’t my fault, after all, if she bores him, and I can’t force him to go to her, although I’d rather he were a little more faithful, because then I shouldn’t see quite so much of her myself.” M. de Guermantes has “recently become the lover of another woman…the Marquise de Surgis-le-Duc.” M. de Chatellerault smiles insistently at the disconsolate footman. Mme de Guermantes makes her feelings about Victor Hugo’s poetry known. Mme de Guermantes’ “voice, with its heavy drawl, its harsh savour,” in which Marcel “recognized much of the life of nature round Combray,” and of which she had “realised that this discordant voice was an attraction…”
High blown literary conversation and sly putdowns. What could be better?
I was curious to know more about the apparently odious M. de Bornier, so here’s what Wikpedia had to say, taken from the 1901 Encyclopedia Brittanica.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
He came to Paris in 1845 with the object of studying law, but in that year he published a volume of verse, Les Premieres Feuilles, and the Comédie-Française accepted a play of his entitled Le Manage de Luther.
He was given a post in the library of the Arsenal, where he served for half a century, becoming director in 1889. In 1875 was produced at the Théâtre Français his heroic drama in verse, La Fille de Roland. The action of the play turns on the love of Gerald, son of the traitor Ganelon, for the daughter of Roland. The patriotic subject and the nobility of the character of Gerald, who renounces Berthe when he learns his real origin, procured for the piece a great success. The conflict between honor and love and the grandiose sentiment of the play inevitably provoked comparison with Corneille. The piece would indeed be a masterpiece if, as its critics were not slow to point out, the verse had been quite equal to the subject.
|French literary history|
Among the numerous other works of de Bornier should be mentioned: Dimitri (1876), libretto of an opera by Victorin Joncières; and the dramas, Les Noces d’Attila (1880) and Mahomet (1888). The production of this last piece was forbidden in deference to the representations of the Turkish ambassador. Henri de Bornier was critic of the Nouvelle Revue from 1879 to 1887. His Poésies complètes were published in 1894. He died in January 1901.
Moncrieff: Page 679 “Thus, through these diverse influences…” through Page 690 “…and has not yet resigned himself to the inevitable disappointments he is destined to find in people, as in the theatre, in travel and indeed in love.”
Treharne: Page 492 “And so, in these various influences…” through Page 500 “…and has not yet resigned himself to the inevitable disappointments he is bound to discover with people, as s the case with theater, with travel, with love.”