Moncrieff: 160-174; Clark: 112-121
by Dennis Abrams
The cries from the street begin again, and Albertine requests first oysters, than mackerel, than mussels, than cos lettuce, finally agreeing to “…cabbages, carrots, oranges. Just the things I want to eat. Do make Francoise go out and buy some. She shall cook us a dish of creamed carrots. Besides, it will be so nice to eat all these things together. It will be all the shouts we’re hearing transformed into a good dinner.” Laments that it will be two months until she hears “‘Green and tender beans, fresh green beans!’ How true that is: tender beans, you know I like them as soft as soft, dripping with oil and vinegar, you wouldn’t think you were eating them, they melt in the mouth like drops of dew.” Albertine tells Marcel she may stop for ice at Rebattets, but, since ever since Swann recommended it it has been the Verdurins’ favorite place, Marcel objects, and tells he might go out, and if he does, he’ll stop and get the ices himself. Albertine’s long, poetic homage to ice and architecture, “…the picturesque geography of her ices…” After Albertine leaves, Marcel “felt how exhausting was her perpetual presence, insatiable in its restless animation…” Happiness that Andree was accompanying Albertine to the Trocadero because he no completely trusts the chauffeur’s vigilance. Albertine’s earlier visit to Versailles: A tale of two restaurants. “So it was for more than seven hours on end that Albertine had been alone, left to her own devices.” Marcel searches for explanations: Was the chauffeur in league with Albertine? Had the chauffeur and Albertine had a quarrel? The chauffeur explains that he had been tailing Albertine the entire seven hours while she toured Versailles, and she was alone the entire time. Postcards. Absolved, Albertine was “even more boring to me than before.” Two pimples on her forehead. Gilberte’s maid confesses that during the time Marcel was in love with Gilberte, Gilberte had been in love with another young man who she saw more often than Marcel. The maid would be the one go to, under the orders of Mme Swann, “to inform the young man whenever the one I loved was alone. The one I loved then…” Jealousy can not revive a dead love. Did Marcel’s love for Gilberte contain an element of self-love?
1. I loved Albertine’s description of the green beans, “as soft as soft, dripping with oil and vinegar, you wouldn’t think you were eating them, they melt in the mouth like drops of dew.” But, her speech about the ices, “whenever I eat them, temples, churches, obelisks, rocks, a sort of picturesque geography is what I see at first before converting its raspberry or vanilla monuments into coolness in my gullet…They make raspberry obelisks too, which will rise up here and there in the burning desert of my thirst, and I shall make their pink granite crumble and melt deep down in my throat which they will refresh better than any oasis’ (and here the deep laugh broke out, whether from satisfaction at talking so well, or in self-mockery for using such carefully contrived images, or, alas, from physical pleasure at feeling inside herself something so good, so cool, which was tantamount to sexual pleasure.”
Did anyone else also consider the possibility that Albertine here was mocking Marcel?
2. I liked this a lot:
“As soon as Albertine had gone out, I felt how exhausting was her perpetual presence, insatiable in its restless animation, which disturbed my sleep with its movements, made me live in a perpetual chill by her habit of leaving doors open, and forced me– in order to find excuses that would justify mynot accompanying her, without, however, appearing too unwell, and at the same time seeing that she was not unaccompanied — to display every day greater ingenuity than Sheherazade. Unfortunately, if by a similar ingenuity the Persian storyteller postponed her death, I was hastening mine.”
He knows what he’s doing, and yet…
3. “So, it was more than seven hours on end that Albertine had been alone, left to her own devices.”
Speaks for itself.
4. What is going on with Albertine and the mackerel..er, the pimp, er, the chauffeur?
Moncrieff: “Dismissing these reflexions, now that Albertine had gone out…” through “…it revives and remains for ever insatiable.” Pages 174-184; Kindle locations 2292-98/2407-14
Clark: “Setting those thoughts aside, now that Albertine was gone…” through “it is always reborn and remains insatiable.” Pages 121-128; Kindle locations 2524-31/2634-41