Moncrieff: 224-235; Clark: 155-163
by Dennis Abrams
What does the presence of Albertine deprive Marcel of,while at the same time, presenting him with? Because of Albertine’s presence, Marcel is able to look at the women on the street without thinking of them as the objects of Albertine’s desire, hating them all, “Objects of horror, because they would have been excluded from the beauty of the universe. Albertine’s servitude, by releasing me from suffering on their account, restored them to the beauty of the world.” Albertine as a captive bird, “As soon as she was a captive in my house, the bird that I had seen one afternoon advancing with measured tread along the front, surrounded by a congregation of other girls like seagulls alighted from who knew where, Albertine had lost all her colours, together with all the opportunities that other people had of securing her for themselves. Gradually she had lost her beauty.” Marcel can recapture her beauty while out in public with her, imagining her accosted by some young woman or man. Albertine’s two periods. Memories of the beach, Albertine as the most beautiful girl on the beach, surrounded by her friends, not far “from a woman with whom I was almost certain now she had had relations,” bursting out laughing and staring at Marcel “in an insolent fashion.” Two intertwined shadows. The full moon as they approach the Arc de Triomphe. Peace in Albertine’s presence, knowing she is going home, to her home, with Marcel. Marcel worries that Albertine sees herself as a prisoner, “judging by her mournful, wearylook that evening as we dined together in her room…” “There is no such thing as a beautiful prison.” Marcel again bemoans the fact that if it wasn’t for Albertine, he could be dining in Venice. The Barbedienne bronze. Marcel’s bondage ceases to weigh upon him when he begins to perceive that Albertine is conscious of her own. Because Albertine goes to such lengths to never be alone, to never go out without Francoise or Andree, to never talk on the telephone without somebody being able to listen to her conversation, Marcel begins to wonder “whether Albertine might not be planning to shake off her chains.” Marcel runs into Gisele on the street, and her statement that she “happened to have something to say to her…something to do with some young friends of hers,” followed by vague answers to Marcel’s questions, convinces him that she is lying, and has plans to escape with one of her friends. The “little band” covers up each other’s activities with lies, as do a magazine’s publishers, editors and staffs.
Poor Albertine, she really doesn’t have much of a chance:
“With Albertine, the impression that she was lying was conveyed by a number of characteristics which we have already observed in the course of this narrative, but especially by the fact that, when she was lying, her story erred either from inadequacy, omission, implausibility, or on the contrary from a surfeit of petty details intended to make it seem plausible.”
And of course,
“Plausibility, notwithstanding the idea that the liar holds of it, is by no means the same as truth. Whenever, while listening to something that is true, we hear something that is only plausible, that is perhaps more plausible than the truth, that is perhaps too plausible, an ear that is at all musical sense that is not correct, as with a line that does not scan or a word read aloud in mistake for another.”
Moncrieff: “Meetings such as this one with Gisele…” through “the symbol of his resurrection.” Pages 235-246; Kindle locations: 3065-73
Clark: “Meetings like the ones with Gisele…” through “the symbol of his resurrection.” Pages 163-170; Kindle locations: 3241-48/3369-76
Enjoy. And it’s a major scene (heads up!), so I know you will.