Moncrieff: 878-890; Clark: 613-620
by Dennis Abrams
Meeting young Austrian women “who came to Venice to spend the first fine days of this flowerless spring.” The one whose complexion and “gay, light-hearted look,” reminded him of Albertine. Her brief stay in Venice and Marcel’s brief jealousy — wondering whether she had a love of women in common with Albertine. “As for finding out about her life, it was impossible; even in the case of Albertine, how long had it taken me to get to know anything! It had taken her death to loosen people’s tongues, such prudent circumspection had Albertine, like this young women, shown in all her conduct. And in this case could I be certain that I had discovered anything about Albertine?” The desire to know what lay hidden beneath “the delicate pink of those cheeks, in the brightness…” Walks alone, strange piazzas, with shades so “various that you would have said it was the garden of some tulip lover in Delft or Haarlem, planted on top of the town.” Marcel’s inability to find the piazza again. The arrival of “Mme Putbus and attendants” awakens a desire in Marcel to remain in Venice. His mother’s refusal to stay and departure for the station, Marcel’s inability to move or decide to stay or leave, O Solo Mio, his departure for the station, arriving at the very last minute. His mother’s response: “You know, she said, your poor grandmother used to say: It’s curious, there’s nobody who can be as unbearable or as nice as that child.” A letter from Gilberte announcing her engagement to Robert Saint-Loup; the earlier telegram was not from Albertine, but from Gilberte.”
First of all, I’d like to very much thank Jeanne “Artmama” Badman for so ably taking over the site while I was away on vacation in Russia. She did an amazing job.
1. Loved this:
“And as there is no great difference between the memory of a dream and the memory of a reality, I finally wondered whether it was not during my sleep that there had occurred, in a dark patch of Venetian crystallisation, that strange mirage which offered a vast piazza surrounded by romantic palaces to the meditative eye of the moon.”
2. And I loved the idea of this:
“The town that I saw before me had ceased to be Venice. It’s personality, its name, seemed to me to be mendacious fictions which I no longer had the will to impose upon its stones. I saw the palaces reduced to their basic elements, lifeless heaps of marble with nothing to choose between them, and the water as a combination of hydrogen and oxygen, eternal, blind, anterior and exterior to Venice, oblivious of the Doges or of Turner.”
Without bringing to a place our IDEA of the place…
3. The marriage of Robert St. Loup to Gilberte –symbolically bringing together the two disparate paths in Marcel’s life: Swann’s Way and the Guermante’s Way.
4. And to backtrack slightly, I’ve got to comment on one of my favorite passages in the book — the reappearance of Mme Villeparsis and the heartbreaking scene where Mme Sazerat, looking around the room to find the woman who had ruined her father, attempting to find the “most beautiful woman of his generation, and as I’ve never set eyes on her, it will be a sort of solace in spite of everything.” but instead finds only “an old gentleman and a little hunchbacked, red-faced, hideous woman.”
The difference between the image she’s carried with her most of her life with the reality of what Mme Villeparsis had become…It seems, in many ways, a summation of one of Proust’s major themes…
Moncrieff: Page 891 “Oh, it’s too incredible,” through Page 902 “…indeed a threefold and fourfold presentiment.” Kindle locations 11466-72/11618-15
Clark: Page 611 “Oh, how incredible! said my mother.” through Page 628 “…a double, triple, or even quadruple foreboding.” Kindle locations 11133-40/11264-71