Moncrieff: 259-268; Clark: 179-186
by Dennis Abrams
Marcel had gained two things over the course of the day: “the possibility, and in consequence the resolve, to break with her; on the other…the idea that Art, to which I would try to devote my reconquered liberty, was not something that was worth a sacrifice, something above and beyond life…” but they will not last through the course of the evening. Getting out of his cab, Marcel sees Brichot, now nearly blind, and embarrassed that he has a cab, offers to give Brichot a ride home after the party. Marcel tells Brichot that he was “longing to see the drawing-room in which Swann used to meet Odette every evening.” “Swann’s death had deeply distressed me at the time.” “We do not possess a sense that would enable us to see, moving at full speed in every direction, these deaths, the active deaths aimed by destiny at this person and next.” Swann’s obituary: “…he will be universally mourned…His witty and striking personality never failed to arouse the interest of the public at all the great events of the musical and artistic seasons…” “…the absence of a well-known title makes the process of decomposition even more rapid.” Marcel regrets that he had never gone to see Gilberte as he had promised Swann, was unable to find out the “other reason” why Swann had confided in regarding his conversation with the Prince, and regrets the questions he never got to ask yom, abouty Vermeer, M. de Bouchy, Combray, and Swann himself. Brichot informs Marcel that it had been at another Verdurin home that Swann used to meet Odette. Brichot describes with regret and longing the earlier parties at the Verdurins. The meaning of “salon.” Marcel and Brichot catch sight of M. de Charlus, “steering towards us the bulk of his huge body, drawing unwillingly in his wake one of those ruffians or beggars who nowadays when he passed sprang out without fail from even the most apparently deserted corners…” Charlus’s affectation of virility has disappeared. Charlus makes Brichot uneasy. Mme de Surgis le Duc “could not be said to have a developed moral sense, and would have tolerated in her sons anything, however base, that could be explained by material interest, which is comprehensible to all mankind,” but will no longer allow them to visit M. Charlus.
“And yet, my dear Charles Swann, whom I used to know when I was still so young and you were nearing your grave, it is because he whom you must have regarded as a young idiot has made you the hero of one of his novels that people are beginning to speak of you again and that your name will perhaps live. If, in Tissot’s picture representing the balcony of the Rue Royale club, where you figure with Galliffet, Edmond de Polignac and Saint-Maurice, people are always drawing attention to you, it is because they see that there are some traces of you in the character of Swann.”
I should probably end with the above passage and picture, but I think this passage is important:
“No doubt to every man the life of every other extends along shadow paths of which he has no inkling. Lying, though it is often deceptive and is the basis of all conversation, conceals less thoroughly a feeling of hostility, or of self-interest, or a visit which one wants to appear not to paid, or a short-lived escapade with a mistress which one is anxious to keep from one’s wife, then a good reputation covers up — to the extent of not letting its existence be guessed — sexual depravity. It may remain unsuspected for a lifetime; an accidental encounter on a pier, at night, discloses it, even then this accidental discovery is frequently misunderstood and a third person who is in the know must supply the elusive clue of which everyone is unaware. But, once known, it scares on by making one feel that way madness lies, far more than by its immorality.”
The Weekend’s Reading:
Moncrieff: “The coarse pleasantries in which Brichot had indulged…” through “…from which one can suffer relatively little.” Pages 268-298; Kindle locations 3372-79/3874-80
Clark: “Briocot’s heavy jokes, in the early days…” through “in a blur which cannot cause real suffering.” Pages 186-206; Kindle locations 3527-34/3998-406
Enjoy. And enjoy your weekend.