Moncrieff: 91-100; Clark: 64-70
by Dennis Abrams
Marcel no longer sees Albertine as he saw her at Balbec: “…it had come about, this sudden and fundamental change, when I had learned that Albertine had been virtually brought up by Mlle Vinteuil’s friend. Previously happy to see mystery in Albertine’s eyes, “now I was happy only at times when from those eyes, from those cheeks even, as revealing as the eyes, at one moment so gentle but quickly turning sullen, I succeeded in expelling every trace of mystery.” Marcel no longer wants the Albertine leading an unknown life, but “that of an Albertine as known to me as it was possible to be…” Bedroom time with Marcel and Albertine. Marcel’s need to keep Albertine by his side, a soothing power he had not experienced since his mother kissed him goodnight at Combray. Marcel would have been astonished if anyone had accused him of being not extremely kind and was capable of depriving someone else of pleasure. “I must have known myself imperfectly then, for my pleasure in having Albertine to live with me was much less a pleasure than the pleasure of having withdrawn from the world, where everyone was free to enjoy her in turn, the blossoming girl who, if she did not bring me any great joy, was at least withholding joy from others. Marcel’s power over Albertine. Marcel’s growing likeness to his father and his barometers, his mother, and to aunt Leonie in his desire to stay home in bed, “and with whom I could have sworn that I had not a single point in common, I who was so passionately fond of pleasure, apparently worlds apart from that maniac who had never known any pleasure in her life and lay telling her beads all day long…” Albertine in bed: “When she was lying completely on her side, there was a certain aspect of her face (so sweet and beautiful from in front) which I could not endure, hook-nosed as in one of Leonardo’s caricatures, seeming to betray the malice, the greed for gain, the deceitfulness of a spy whose presence in my house would have filled me with horror and whom that profile seemed to unmask. At once I took Albertine’s face in my hands and altered its position.” Tenderness is necessary to give birth to pain. Erotic games with an undercurrent of danger. Marcel is no longer surprised that Albertine is living in his house.
Deeper and deeper we go…
1. I loved this:
“The image which I sought, upon which I relied, for which I would have been prepared to die, was no longer that of Albertine leading an unknown life, it was that of Albertine as known to me as it was possible for her to be (and it was for this reason that my love could not be lasting unless it remained unhappy, for by definition it did not satisfy the need for mystery), an Albertine who did not reflect a distant world, but desired nothing else — there were moments when this did indeed appear to be the case — than to be with me, to be exactly like me, an Albertine who was the image precisely of what was mine and not of the unknown.”
“…to be with me, to be exactly like me…” Thoughts?
2. I was shocked when the Narrator (or was it Marcel) referred to aunt Leonie as a “maniac.”
3. I was immediately struck (before the Narrator pointed it out I’m happy to say) the similarity between Marcel’s attitude towards Albertine (taking off her shoes, “Could I possibly be mistaken? Couldn’t I tell my little goose’s footstep among a thousand?” and Marcel’s grandmother at Balbec: “Mistake my poor pet’s knocking for anyone else’s! Why, Granny could tell it a mile away! Do you suppose there’s anyone else in the world who’s such a silly-billy…”
Which leads to this observation:
“When we have passed a certain age, the soul of the child that we were and the souls of the dead from whom we sprang come and shower upon us their riches and their spells, asking to be allowed to contribute to the new emotions which we feel and in which, erasing their former image, we recast them in an original creation. Thus my whole past from my earliest years, and, beyond these, the past of my parents and relations, blended with my impure love for Albertine the tender charm of an affection at once filial and maternal.”
Ending in this gorgeous sentence:
“We have to give hospitality, at a certain stage in our lives, to all our relatives who have journeyed so far and gathered round us.”
Moncrieff: “I had promised Albertine that, if I did not go out with her…” through “…a party so homogeneous, albeit so composite.” Pages 100-111; Kindle locations 1322-28/1458-65
Clark: “I had promised Albertine that if I did not go out with her…” through “where the guests, seemingly so ill-matched, mixed so well.” Pages 70-78; Kindle locations 1631-68/1765-66