by Jeanne Badman
Marcel’s mother receives a visit from the Princess de Parme. Marcel writes to Andree. When she calls on him the following week he wants more information about why Albertine left him. Andree says it was because Albertine’s aunt, Mme. Bontemps, wanted Albertine to marry Octave. It didn’t seem that Marcel was going to marry Albertine so her extended visit with him was, after all, inappropriate. Marcel had never considered this as a possible reason for her departure. Marcel still thinks Albertine’s wanted to go to the afternoon tea at the Verdurins’ in order to see Mlle. Vinteuil. He shows Andree a note from Mme. Verdurin that suggests Albertine knew who would be at the tea. Andree insists that the note refers to Octave. Marcel struggles to factor this element in to his memories and doubts of Albertine. What did people think of Albertine’s relationships, her scheming, and her life with Marcel? Thoughts on the danger of love, intellectual men who love inferior women, and their suffering because of the lies women tell. Not that he was one of them, but he is no closer to the truth than before Albertine’s death. Andree recalls that Albertine’s behaviors became more erratic after she had typhoid. She became very impulsive, as in the time she left Balbec suddenly for Paris at the wrong time of the season. Marcel wonders why Octave was so friendly to him in Paris. Did Octave plan to steal Albertine away, did he desire Marcel’s intellectual company, or did he want an introduction to Elstir? Had he deprived Albertine of an innocent social opportunity by keeping her from the Verdurin’s afternoon tea? Should he believe in Albertine or Andree? Marcel’s exhaustion is greater than his sadness.
Marcel’s mother takes hime to Venice, where he is reminded of Combray. He observes many differences, but experiences similar feelings. His mother displays more affection for him. She accepts the fact that her cool reserve has not helped her son to realize his potential. She appears less sad, her smile seems to kiss him. Marcel has memories of Combray and thoughts on the art of Venice and Venice as the subject of art. He is excited in the search for Venetian women while remembering other women. He wishes Albertine were with him in this search. Marcel meets his mother on the Piazzetta and they call for a gondola. “Your grandmother would have loved this simple grandeur.” Buildings along the canal are like objects from nature created with a human imagination. The comings and goings on the canals are a Venetian version of the social and artistic scenes in Paris, in this case influenced by the tides.
I have read summaries that contend that the begining of “Sojourn in Venice” is the third stage of forgetting. Can anyone clarify this for us?
A gentle quote from the weekend:
“For man is that ageless creature who has the faculty of becoming many years younger in a few seconds, and who, surrounded by the walls of time through which he has lived, floats within them as in a pool the surface-level of which is constantly changing so as to bring him within range now of one epoch, now or another.”
There is a brief phrase in Samuel Beckett’s Proust that has helped me have better appreciation for these abstractions. Beckett casually mentions that after her death Albertine is emancipated from time. For me that means that she exists in all time, at all times, and for all time. Taking that idea further, so does every moment of the writer’s life once he decides that he is a writer. This entire work is about the experience of becoming (in this case a writer, but in any case) emancipated from time.
Moncrieff: “Several of the places on the Grand Canal….” through “…ready to move in the direction of the Rhine.” Pages 853-866.
I hope you enjoy the reading.