Moncrieff: 246-259; Clark: 170-179
by Dennis Abrams
Marcel is astonished at the inaccuracy of the newspaper accounts of Bergotte’s death, all of which state that he had died before, but Albertine had already told Marcel that she had met him the before, which was why she had been late — she was, no doubt, the last person with whom he had spoken. It isn’t until later that Marcel learns that Albertine had lied about seeing Bergotte. Her “charming skill in lying naturally.” “The evidence of my senses,” would not be enough to alert Marcel to Albertine’s lies. “…for the stellar universe is not so difficult of comprehension as the real actions of other people, especially of the people we love, fortified as they are against our doubts by fables devised for their protection.” “The evidence of the sense is also an operation of the mind in which conviction creates the facts”: Francoise hearing “not the word that was uttered but what she thought to be its correct form, which was enough to prevent her from hearing the implicit correction in a superior pronunciation.” The butler, Charlus’s “very light trousers,” and the pissotiere. The certain niece of Mme de Guermantes. A friend of Albertine’s, one of the “blossoming girls,” is even better at lying than Albertine. Marcel tells Albertine that he is going to go visit Mme de Villeparisis, Mme de Guermantes, the Cambremers, anybody he might find at home, not mentioning that he is really going to the Verdurins. Albertine declines Marcel’s invitation to accompany him. On reaching the street to hail a cab, Marcel finds Morel sitting on a curbstone, weeping. Morel’s regrets at the way he treated his fiancee. Morel’s rape fantasy, his fluctuating feelings, his desire to “bugger off,” his reluctance to lose Charlus’s financial support, his resentment towards Jupien and his niece. Morel’s need to calm himself before performing at the Verdurins. Jupien’s niece was not the first to be ditched by Morel, nor will she be the last. Memories of Morel embedded in his victim’s brains.
1. I found this fascinating…what did you think?
“The universe is real for us all and dissimilar to each one of us. If we were not obliged, in the interests of narrative tidiness, to confine ourselves to frivolous reasons, how many more serious reasons would enable us to demonstrate the mendacious flimsiness of the opening pages of this volume in which, from my bed, I hear the world awake, now to one sort of weather, now to another! Yes, I have been forced to whittle down the facts, and to be a liar, but it is not one universe, but millions, almost as many as the number of human eyes and brains in existence, that awake every morning.”
2. The image of Charlus in his yellow trousers cruising the “Rambuteau convience,” for hours on end is one I could have happily lived without.
3. Anybody else see the irony of Marcel discussing Albertine’s ability to lie for page after page before blithely going to lie to Albertine about his plans for the evening?
4. And finally, Celeste Albaret’s account of one the days after Proust’s funeral:
“And then one day a strange thing happened. Coming out of the apartment, where we had stayed — Odilon, my sister, and I — to finish putting things in order, I suddenly noticed the window of the bookshop nearby on rue Hamelin. it was all lit up, and behind the glass were the published works of M. Proust, arranged in threes.
Once again, I was dazzled by his prescience and his certainty. I thought of the passage in his book in which he speaks of the death of the writer Bergotte: ‘They buried him. But throughout the night of the funeral, in the lighted windows, the books set out in threes kept watch like angels with outspread wings, as if they were, for him who was no more, a symbol of the resurrection.”
Moncrieff: “Meanwhile I had gained two things in the course of the day.” through “…but not if it was from irresistible sadism.” Pages 259-268; Kindle locations 3372-79/3504-10
Clark: “I had within myself two products of the day’s experiences.” through “but not if he acted out of irresistible sadism.” Pages 179-186; Kindle locations 3527-34/3649-57