by Jeanne Badman
The second stage in the process of forgetting – a meeting with Andree, alone in his room, during which they have “semi- carnal” relations. Marcel remembers it well because it was his mother’s “at home” day and he was banished from the rest of the apartment. This day followed the day of his mother’s disappointing call on the Princess de Parme during which she felt ignored and made a fool. Andree makes it clear that she is planning to dine with Gilberte and Marcel is not welcome to join them. On his way to meet Andree in his room Marcel notices that another visitor is waiting in his other sitting room. He overhears M. de Charlus reciting poetry to a woman, or so Marcel supposes. Upon entering he discovers Charlus with a young soldier, Morel, with whom he is not on good terms. They visit briefly before Marcel continues on to his rendezvous with Andree in his room. Marcel is happier having Andree’s company than he would be with Albertine’s because Andree can tell him things about Albertine! He encourages her to be open. She tells of Morel procuring girls for Albertine, even taking one to a brothel in Couliville for sex with multiple female partners. Albertine may have regretted some of these encounters and Andree insists that she wanted to change. She says that Albertine hoped that Marcel would marry her and rescue her from her “criminal lunacy.” Andree speculates that Albertine’s death may have been suicide following a suicide in the family of one of her recent sex partners. Then Andree goes further and describes the tryst she enjoyed with Albertine in Marcel’s room on the day he brought home the branch of syringa. This would all have been too painful for Marcel just a short time earlier and he doesn’t feel quite strong enough for the news even now, having exhausted himself with Andree. He realizes that if Albertine had lived he would have learned nothing, and since she is dead he cannot confront her with what he has learned. He wonders if Andree is trying to cause him pain, if she is lying, if she is irritated with him or jealous of his relations with Albertine. He considers that she may be angry, and he remembers her feeling this way about the young sportsman at Balbec. This young man has since been living with Rachel. Perhaps Andree likes to humiliate people, and she has not learned to “…love even the proud and conquer their pride by love…”
Quotes that stood out for me today:
“Moreover, the idea that woman had perhaps had relations with Albertine no longer aroused in me anything save the desire to have relations with that woman myself.”
In your dreams, Marcel! As Andree puts it, “Ah!, yes but you’re a man. And so we can’t do quite the same things as I used to do with Albertine.”
“For if the woman you see again when you no longer love her then tells you all, it is because it is no longer she, or because it is no longer you: the person who loved has ceased to exist. There too death has passed by, and has made everything simple and pointless.”
Do men stop loving? I’d rather think they do not. In fact, I’m sure of it.
Today I started watching Raoul Ruiz’s 1999 film ‘Time Regained.’ It features a scene in which Marcel tells Gilberte that between a man and a woman who no longer love each other there is only death. It’s interesting how this idea made it into the film. Give it a try sometime.
Moncrieff: “As regards the young sportsman, the Verdurin’s nephew…” through “…Andree had never visited the aerodrome in question.” Pages 817-828.
I hope you are enjoying this as much as I am.