by Jeanne Badman
Marcel feels that the Albertine of long ago is enclosed within himself. He thinks about a letter from his stockbroker. His finances are a disaster. He sold up in haste after taking some losses and finds his circumstances greatly reduced. Family and friends at Combray will be talking about him and how his running with a rich crowd (Saint-Loup and the Germantes) has led to his fall. He doubts that his latest Venetian love interest, a 17-year-old vendor of glassware, would consent to move to Paris with him since he has become so poor. He remembers Albertine’s rings and it still pains him that he does not know who gave them to her. He receives a telegram from Albertine declaring that she is alive and wanting to talk of marriage. The night is spent in contemplation of his feelings about Albertine. He feels no joy, and knows that he no longer loves her. In the morning he tries to return the telegram to the porter, who will not take it back. Marcel decides to act as though he has not received the telegram. He ponders his former love for Albertine and his love for himself. Marcel and Mamma set off for St. Mark’s. He is moved by the experience of seeing great art with a particular person, in this case his mother. In the painting by Carpaccio he sees the cloak worn by Albertine on their carriage ride to Versailles on their final evening together. He is briefly overcome by “a vague and soon dissipated feeling of desire and melancholy.”
I’ve looked over more Proust guides and summaries and have decided that the third and final stage of oblivion is at the point when Marcel receives the telegram and comes to understand that the self that loved Albertine is gone.
“When I realized that I felt no joy in the thought of her being alive, that I no longer loved her, I ought to have been more shattered than a man who, looking at his reflection in a mirror, after months of travel or sickness, discovers that he has white hair and a different face, that of a middle-aged or an old man. This is shattering because its message is: “the man that I was, the fair-haired young man no longer exists, I am another person.”
I have come to the end of my term as Dennis’ substitute here in The Cork-Lined Room. Thank you for your encouragement and for reading with me. I know we all look forward to what Dennis has to say about this next reading, the final section of “Sojourn in Venice.”
Moncrieff: “There were days when my mother and I were not content…” through “…springs from an original mistake in our premises.” Pages 878-890.
Enjoy the read.