Moncrieff: 668-681; Sturrock: 475-485
by Dennis Abrams
“The anger of the Cambremer’s was extreme…” After Marcel mentions Balzac’s Scenes de la vie de province,” to Charlus and making comparisons to the Cambremers, he learns that Brichot is in love with Mme de Cambremer. Charlus, due to a “certain equivocally paternal tone in addressing all young men…gave the lie to the womanising views which he expressed.” After Brichot accepts several invitations to lunch at the Cambremer’s, Mme Verdurin “decided that it was time to put a stop to these proceedings.” Their one hour talk, in which Mme Verdurin pointed out to Brichot “that Mme de Cambremer cared nothing for him, that he was the laughing-stock of her drawing-room, that he would be dishonouring his old age and compromising his situation in the academic world.” Her victory, and Brichot’s grief which “was such that for two days it was thought that he would lose his sight altogether, and in any case his disease had taken a leap forward from which it never retreated.” The Cambremers, who are still furious at Morel, invite Charlus to dinner, but after he ignores the invitation they realize “they had committed a gaffe,” and invite Morel as well, who is instructed by Charlus, smiling at the proof of his power, to accept on both of their behalf. M. and Mme Fere, “out of the top drawer.” The Cambremer’s excitement on being able to introduce to Charlus to the Feres. The night of the dinner, only Morel attends, bringing Charlus’s regrets: “‘The Baron can’t come. He’s not feeling very well, at least I think that’s the reason…I haven’t seen him this week,’ he added, these last words completing the despair of Mme de Cambremer, who had told M. and Mme Fere that Morel saw Charlus at every hour of the day.” M. de Cambremer, wanting to see his house again accepts an invitation from the Verdurins, but this time, Mme de Cambremer claims illness and does not attend. The Cambremers and the Verdurins are scarcely on speaking terms. Complaints from the Cambremers about Charlus’s alleged Dreyfusism and Mme Verdurin’s excessive familiarity — just because she rents their house does not mean she’s entitled to be their friend. Night time carriage rides to the train station, the length of the journey to La Raspeliere. Darkened carriages allow for caresses between Marcel and Albertine. M. de Cambremer’s satisfaction that Marcel is suffering from spasms. Mme de Cambremer’s concern that Albertine has acted “rather weirdly.” The wife of a banker, and Marcel’s sense that it “was inserted merely to put me off the scent.” The night train home awakens in Marcel “the desire to travel, to lead a new life, and so made me want to abandon my intention of marrying Albertine, and even to break off our relations for good…” More etymologies from Brichot.
Now that was a lot of social manuvering. Morel angers the Cambremers, the Cambremers anger Charlus, Charlus angers the Cambremers, Mme de Cambremer angers the Verdurins, the Verdurins anger the Cambremers, Brichot angers Mme Verdurin, Mme Verdurin saddens Brichot. That’s a lot for around ten pages of constantly fascinating prose. And that’s not even taking into account the subtle maneuvering going on between Marcel and Albertine.
I really loved this one, extraordinarily long sentence, which seemed to capture the very rhythms of travel:
“Once we were in the carriages which had come to meet us, we no longer had any idea where we were; the roads were not lighted; we could tell by the louder noise of the wheels that we were passing through a village, we thought we had arrived, we found ourselves once more in the open country, we heard bells in the distance, we forgot that we were in evening dress, and we had almost fallen asleep when, at the end of this long stretch of darkness which, what with the distance we had travelled and the hitches and delays inseparable from railway journeys, seemed to have carried us on to a late hour of the night and almost half-way back to Paris, suddenly, after the crunching of the carriage wheels over a finer gravel had revealed to us that we had turned into the drive, there burst forth, reintroducing us into a social existence, the dazzling lights of the drawing-room, then of the dining-room where we were suddenly taken aback by hearing eight o’clock strike when we imagined it was long past, while the endless dishes and vintage wines would circulate among the men in tails and the women with bare arms, at a dinner glittering with light like a real metropolitan dinner-party but surrounded, and thereby changed in character, by the strange and sombre double veil which, diverted from their primal solemnity, the nocturnal, rural, maritime hours of the journey there and back had woven for it.”
Moncrieff: Page 682 “During these homeward journeys…” through Page 692 “…It might have swept them clean.”
Sturrock: Page 485 “During thesehomeward journeys…” through Page 492 “…It would have been a new broom.”