Moncrieff: 657-668; Sturrock: 468-475
by Dennis Abrams
Grattevast. M. Pierre de Verjus, Comte de Crecy. His modest, almost penurious existence, and Marcel’s habit of inviting him to dinner at Balbec. His taste for the most expensive wines, “he would order the meal with a refined skill but eat a little too much, and drink copiously, making the waiters warm the wines that needed warming and place those that needed cooling upon ice. Aime’s attentiveness to his “favoured customer,” Marcel. Aime carves the turkeys, an occasion that Marcel misses: “‘What, you didn’t see me carving the turkey’s myself?’ I replied that having failed so far, to see Rome, Venice, Siena, the Prado, the Dresden gallery, the Indies, Sarah in Phedre, I had learned to resign myself, and that I would add his carving of turkeys to my list.” The sadness of M. de Crecy’s life, due “to his mixing exclusively with people who were capable of supposing that Cambremers and Guermantes were one and the same thing,” and his delight that Marcel knows the difference. Marcel mentions a niece of Mme de Guermantes who had married an American named Crecy, and “thought more than once of telling him, as a joke, that I knew Mme Swann, who as a courtesan had been known at one time by the name Odette de Crecy.” M. de Chevregny, related to the Cambremers, a man of the provinces, “he had that detailed knowledge of Paris only to be found in people who seldom go there.” Pelleas et Melisande is trivial, while whatever you do, La Chatelaine is well worth seeing. Mme de Cambremer and, once again, the three adjective rule. The younger Cambremers decline to invite the Verdurins to a smart evening to meet Saint-Loup’s friends, but from the clan, do invite Morel to impress Charlus and to entertain the guests, and Cottard because “he had some ‘go’ about him and would ‘go downwell’ at a dinner-party; besides, it might turn out useful to be on friendly terms with a doctor if they should ever have anybody ill in the house.” Mme Verdurin’s outrage at her exclusion and her dictation to Cottard that he refuse the Cambremer’s invitation (that he was going to accept) with the tersely worded note “We are dining that evening with Mme Verdurin.” Morel does not need instructions from Mme Verdurin, he is under the influence of Charlus, who has given him false ideas about the social domain, that the Guermantes are first and foremost, and “as for all the little people who call themselves Marquis de Cambremerde or de Gotoblazes, there is no difference between them and the humblest rookie in your regiment. Whether you go and do wee-wee at the Countess Cack’s or cack at the Baroness Wee-wee’s, it’s exactly the same, you willhave compromised your reputation and have used a shitty rag instead of toilet paper. Which is unsavoury.” So to prove his superiority to the Cambremers, Morel sends a telegram on the evening of the party declining their invitation, “as pleased with himself as if he had behaved like a Prince of the Blood.” Charlus’s capacity to be “intolerable, meddlesome and even — he was so clever — stupid, in all the circumstances where the flaws in his character came into play. We may say indeed that these flaws are like an intermitent disease of the mind.”
1. Odette was married to M. de Crecy?
2. Don’t mess with Mme Verdurin. Don’t exclude her. Don’t try to break up the clan.
I loved this passage about similarities within the Cambremer family:
“For throughout the family, to quite a remote degree of kinship and in admiring imitation of Aunt Zelia, the rule of the three adjectives was held in great favour, as was a certain enthusiastic way of catching your breath when talking. An imitation that had passed into the blood, moreover; and whenever, in the family, a little girl from her earliest childhood took to stopping short while she was talking to swallow her saliva, her parents would say: ‘She takes after Aunt Zelia,’ would sense that as she grew older her upper lip would soon tend to be shadowed by a faint moustache, and would make up their minds to cultivate her inevitable talent for music.”
Moncrieff: Page 668 “The anger of the Cambremers was extreme…” through Page 681 “…and even of Fontainebleu.”
Sturrock: Page 475 “The anger of the Cambremers was high…” through Page 485 “…or even Fontainebleu.”