by Jeanne Badman
Gilberte displays Swann’s intelligent curiosity and questions the Duchess about M. du Lau. “Would M. de Breaute or the Prince d’Agrigente be at all like him?” The Duchess is ready with anecdotes about the Marquis du Lau and the King of England, but as the story reminds her of Swann, she cuts herself short. Gilberte likes to speak of prominent people as though they were country neighbors around Tansonville – but they are not. She only met M. de Breaute (an old friend of her father’s) in Paris through the Comtesse Mole. The Duchess expresses concern for the health of “Babal” and “Gri-gri.” M. de Guermantes compliments Marcel on his article, “in somewhat qualified terms.” Gilberte looks forward to telling people that she knows an author. The Duchess invites Marcel to join them at the Opera Comique, but he declines. He uses the excuse of having recently lost a dear friend. He writes to everyone to tell them of his sorrow, but he has ceased to feel it. Marcel receives two letters congratulating him on his article. One is from Mme. Goupil of Combray and the other from Sanilon, a person unknown to him. He wishes to learn Bloch’s opinion, but he will have to wait years, until Bloch is also published and deigns to speak of Marcel’s article in an unkind way. Marcel dreams that Gilberte tells him that Bergotte is a great admirer of his article. Marcel thinks about Gilberte and how her father may have imagined that his memory would live on in her and how he would be mistaken. Society people find that they cannot bring themselves to speak of Swann in the presence of Gilberte. She is erasing his memory. This process is also accelerated for Marcel as he forgets Albertine, especially since he was aroused by the idea of possessing Gilberte when he thought she was someone else. Marcel no longer loves Albertine, but feels the loss as an amputee feels pain in the missing limb. He is diminished by the disappearance of his suffering. He questions his impulse to work, his perceptions of time, and the nature of death. Is it like the arbitrary ending of a course in history, like stopping at the Revolution of 1830 or the end of the Second Empire? Are we a new person when we wake, caring nothing for the person who was so frightened in the nightmare during our sleep? “It is not because other people are dead that our affection for them fades; it is because we ourselves are dying.”
Am I the only one who was not expecting all of this? He’s gone full out for Albertine and by comparison his grief for Grandmother has been swept under the carpet. What will come along to usurp Albertine’s prominence? I’m only peeking ahead twelve pages at a time, and there are hundreds of pages remaining. Stay with me!
Moncrieff: “Another person in whom the process of forgetting…” through “…at the same time to keep one foot on the ground.” Pages 805-817.
Dennis would want you to “Enjoy.”