Moncrieff: 262-272; Sturrock: 192-199
by Dennis Abrams
Marcel begins to distrust Albertine. Dr. Cottard, also spending the season at Balbec, runs into Marcel at the train station at Incarville, and accompanies him to the casino, “now filled with the tumult of the girls, who, in the absence of male partners, were dancing together. Andree dances a waltz with Albertine while Dr. Cottard and Marcel watch. Marcel remarks how well they dance together, to which Cottard responds, “‘Yes, but parents are very rash to allow their daughters to form such habits. I should certainly never let mine come here. Are they pretty, though? I can’t make out their features. There now, look,’ he went on, pointing to Albertine and Andree who were waltzing slowly, tightly clasped together. ‘I’ve left my glasses behind and I can’t see very well, but they are certainly keenly roused. It’s not sufficiently known that women derive most excitement through their breasts. And theirs, as you see, are touching completely.'” Albertine’s deep and penetrating laugh which “appeared to be conveying, to make Andree share, some secret and voluptious thrill.” Marcel leaves with Dr. Cottard. Cottard’s desire to build up a “select practice on the coast,” while on holiday. Competition from Dr. du Boulbon. We learn that Albertine never arrived at the Grand-Hotel on the evening that the lift-boy said she would arrive late. Marcel’s inability to understand Albertine’s character. Albertine, visiting Marcel, attempts to leave in order, she says, to pay a call upon a friend of her aunt’s, but gets caught in a web of lies. Albertine, becoming a drama queen, threatens to drown herself, “I shall throw myself into the sea,” to which Marcel responds “Like Sappho.” Marcel, despite (or is it because of?) his jealousy, believes that, even though Albertine abandoned him for somebody else, “she was attached to me, so much so that the other person was more jealous than I was.”
As the mood shifts away from Marcel’s grief over his grandmother, we come upon a whole slew of highly quotable lines:
“The fact was that I had just her laugh. And this laugh at once evoked the flesh-pink, fragrant surfaces with which it seemed to have just been in contact and of which it seemed to carry with it, pungent, sensual, and revealing as the scent of geraniums, a few almost tangible and secretly provoking particles.”
Of course, Cottard’s line “I’ve left my glasses behind and I can’t see very well,” before going on to note that “they are certainly keenly roused. It’s not sufficiently known that women derive most excitement through their breasts. And theirs, as you see, are touching completely.” Hysterical. It also brought to mind Marcel’s first impressions of the girls his first summer at Balbec, where he couldn’t differentiate between their features either.
This description of Cottard’s rival “the celebrated specialist in nervous diseases,” made me laugh.
“He was a rubicund, jovial man, at once because the constant society of nervous wrecks did not prevent him from enjoying excellent health, and also in order to reassure his patients by the hearty merriment of his ‘Good morning’ and ‘Good-bye,’ while quite ready to lend the strength of his muscular arms to fastening them in strait-jackets later on.”
And of course there’s the irony that Dr. Cottard, with his new interest in ‘toxic actions,’ should be the one who, because of his remarks about Albertine and Andree, helped to inject Marcel with “those forms of poisoning which begin to act only after a certain time.”
“There is no doubt that a person’s charms are a less frequent cause of love than a remark such as: ‘No, this evening I shan’t be free.'”
“For, like all women who have a number of irons in the fuire, she could rely on something that never fails: suspicion and jealousy. Of course she did not seek to arouse them, quite the contrary. But lovers are so suspicious that they instantly scent out falsehood.”
Moncrieff: Page 272 “Some days later, at Balbec, while we were in the ballroom of the casino…” through Page 284 “…but for some reason or other he never kept up, he has wasted his life.”
Sturrock: Page 199 “A few days later, in Balbec, when we were in the ballroom of the casino…” through Page 207 “…but for some reason or other he didn’t keep up, he has wasted his life.”