Moncrieff: 72-83; Clark: 51-59
by Dennis Abrams
“However skillfully jealousy is concealed by him who suffers from it, it is very soon detected by him who suffers from it…” The casual remark that reveals the falsehood, later remembered. Questioning our memory. Jealousy is “regarded by the person who its object as a challenge which justifies deception. Moreover, in our endeavour to learn something, it is we who have taken the initiative in lying and deceit.” Who can be trusted? After Andree’s departure, Albertine “would come back to myroom, she had undressed, and was wearing one of the crepe de Chine dressing gowns or Japanese kimonos which I had asked Mme de Guermantes to describe to me, and for some of which supplementary details had been furnished me by Mme Swann…” Black shoes with brilliants “which Francoise indignantly called clogs…” A fine gold ring. Albertine’s interest in fashion, attributable to the obstacle (poverty) that had previously kept her from it. Albertine is becoming a woman of fashion, and “had become extremely intelligent,” to which she thanks Marcel “You have opened up a world of ideas to me which I never suspected, and whatever I may have become I owe entirely to you.” Do either Albertine or Andree have a real feeling for Marcel? To know someone is to immobilise them…”I should have to cease to love you in order to fix your image…” Changing facets of personality. A time will come, when indifference arrives, that we can assign sharply defined characters. Jupien’s niece’s changing perceptions of Morel and Charlus. Reading and music interrupted by kisses. The simplicity of Marcel and Albertine’s relations: “the very emptiness of her life gave Albertine a sort of eagerness to comply with the few demands I made onher.” Behind the current Albertine there is still the “girl whom I had seen the first time at Balbec, beneath her flat cap, with her insistent laughing eyes, a stranger still, slender as a silhouette projected against the waves.” Albertine’s gang. The intervening years and the successive images which Albertine had been for me…”
This section was so nearly unbearably sad, with such longing for…
1. Is there anything sadder than: “The very emptiness of her life gave Albertine a sort of eagerness to comply with the few demands I made on her.”
“She was so effectively caged that on certain evenings I did not even ask her to leave her room for mine, she whom at one time all the world pursued, whom I had found it so hard to overtake as she sped past on her bicycle, whom the lift-boy himself was unable to bring back to me, leaving me with little hope of her coming, although I sat up waiting for her all night.”
I’m going to assume because of the tone and awareness that this is the Narrator looking back, not Marcel as it occurs.
2. As is this:
“In Albertine’s friends at the time of my second visit, whom I knew so well, whose good and bad qualities were so clearly engraved on their features, how could I recapture those fresh, mysterious strangers who once could not thrust open the doors of their chalets with a screech over the sand or brush past the quivering tamarisks without making my heart beat? Their huge eyes had sunk into their faces since then, doubtless because they had ceased to be children, but also because those ravishing strangers, those actresses of that first romantic year, about whom I had gone ceaselessly in quest of information, no longer held any mystery for me.”
“Each time, a girl so little resembles what she was the time before (shattering, as soon as we catch sight of her, the memory that we had retained of her and the desire that we had proposed to gratify), that the stability of nature which we ascribe to her is purely fictitious and a convention of speech.”
4. And finally:
“I do not say that a day will not come when, even to these luminous girls, we shall assign sharply defined characters, but that will be because they will have ceased to interest us, because their entry upon the scene will no longer be, for our heart, the apparition which it expected to be different and which, each time, leaves it overwhelmed by fresh incarnations. Their immobility will come from our indifference to them, which will deliver them up to the judgment of our intelligence.”
I have nothing else to add tonight. The above excerpts, I think, say it all for now.
Moncrieff: “Moreover, it was not only the sea at the close of day that existed for me in Albertine…” through “As quickly as she had earlier fallen asleep, she had awoken.” Pages 83-91; Kindle locations 1108-15/1204-11
Clark: “Not only was it the sea at twilight that lived for me in Albertine…” through “She had fallen asleep in an instant; now she woke up just as quickly.” Pages 59-64; Kindle locations 1444-50/1530-37