Moncrieff: 459-471; Clark: 315-323
by Dennis Abrams
Upon hearing Marcel’s pronouncement that he wants to separate from her, Albertine “appeared stunned, incredulous and desolate.” Marcel tells Albertine the things that need be done when she leaves, the book by Bergotte that should be returned, although “there’s no hurry about it, in three days, in a week, whenever you like, but remember that I don’t want to have to write and ask you for it: that would be too painful.” Albertine denies that she’s unhappy. Marcel announces that the break with Albertine won’t be painful for more than a few days, “you know I’m not capable of remembering things for long…” Albertine agrees that the break should be final. Although Marcel keeps telling Albertine it’s late and she should go to bed, he really wants to delay her leaving him for bed. During a brief discussion of Bloch and his cousin Esther, Albertine confesses that she had given Esther her photograph “because she kept on asking me for it and I saw that it would give her pleasure…If she wants to see me, it’s all the same to me. She’s very nice, but I don’t care in the least either way.” Marcel tells Albertine to never attempt to see him again. “If at any time, as may happen in a year, in two years, in three years, we should find ourselves in the same town, avoid me…don’t ever see me again in this life. It would hurt me too much. For I was really fond of you, you know.” Marcel’s thoughts turn to his earlier separation from Gilberte who he actually wanted to separate from, Albertine who he didn’t. Marcel’s childhood dream of love. Our inability to see ourselves as we really are, “we do not see our bodies, though others do…” Marcel’s fear that Albertine was going to request more freedom. Albertine has never expressed any interest in leaving Marcel, but subtle expressions and words make him think otherwise. Contrary hypothesis. Was the life that Marcel offered the one she preferred? The difficulty of narrating one’s own story. “My words, therefore, did not in the least reflect my feelings. If the reader has no more than a faint impression of these, that is because, as narrator, I expose my feelings to him at the same time as I repeat my words. But if I concealed the former and he were acquainted only with the latter, my actions, so little in keeping with them, would so often give him the impression of strange reversals that he would think me more or less mad.” Marcel’s fears, which had at first subsided, had reemerged “as soon as I informed Albertine that I had been to the Verdurins.” The look on her face, Marcel’s belief that she felt trapped by his jealousy, even though her behavior had been exemplary. Marcel’s servitude. Marcel’s feint had proved successful, “Albertine’s supposed to leave me, seemed to be ruled out…” Taken off guard by Marcel’s reference to Lea, Albertine, when asked by Marcel if she had ever lied to him, admits that Andree was “greatly taken” with Bloch since they had never met him, and, between her first and second summer at Balbec with Marcel, she had gone a three week trip with Lea.
Perhaps not the best Labor Day reading– Albertine’s constant evasions, Marcel’s head games and ruminations on Albertine’s feelings about him were not necessarily what I was exactly in the mood to read this rainy afternoon, but, as always…there’s ALWAYS a passage that hits hard:
“Thus we presented each to the other an appearance which was very different from the reality. And no doubt it is always so when two people are face to face, since each of them is ignorant of a part of what exists in the other (even what he knows, he can understand only in part) and both of them reveal what is least personal to them, either because they have themselves not properly untangled and regard as negligible what is most personal or because insignificant advantages which do not belong to them particularly seem more important and more flattering to themselves, and at the same time they pretend not to care about certain things they admire, in order not to be despised for not having them, and these are precisely the things that they appear to scorn above all else and even to abhor. But in love this misunderstanding is carried to its supreme pitch because, except perhaps in childhood, we try to see to it that the appearance we assume, instead of reflecting exactly what is in our thoughts, is what is best calculated to enable us to obtain what we desire, and this, in my case, since I had come in, was to keep Albertine as docile as she had been in the past…After a certain age, from self-esteem and from sagacity, it is to the things we most desire that we pretend to attach no importance.”
Moncrieff: “And that very morning, she had told me that she did not know Lea!” through “…I shall fall sleep at once, for I’m almost dead.” Pages 471-485; Kindle locations 6143-53/6328-35
Clark: “And that very morning she had told me that she did not know Lea!” through “But I’ll go to sleep straight after, for I’m half dead.” Pages 323-323; Kindle locations 6040-48/6204-11