Moncrieff: 1-16; Patterson: 3-7
by Dennis Abrams
Marcel walks by himself and with Gilberte at Combray. “The walks that we took together were very often those that I used to take as a child: how then could I help but feel much more acutely even than in the past on the Guermantes way the conviction that I would never be able to write, reinforced by the conviction that my imagination and my sensibility had weakened, when I found how incurious I was about Combray?” Marcel chats with Gilberte, which he finds very pleasant. “Not without difficulty, however. In so many people there are different strata which are not alike: the character of the father, then of the mother; one traverses first one, then the other. But next day, the order of their superimposition is reversed. And finally one does not know who will decide between the contestants, to whom one is to appeal for the verdict. Gilberte was like one of those countries with which one dare not form an alliance because of their too frequent changes of government. But in reality this is a mistake. The memory of the most multiple person establishes a sort of identity in him and makes him reluctant to go back on promises which he remembers, even if he has not countersigned them.” Gilberte suggests that “‘If you like, we might after all go out one afternoon and then we can go to Guermantes, taking the road by Meseglise, which is the nicest way,’ a sentence which upset all the ideas of my childhood by informing me that the two ‘ways’ were not as irreconcilable as I had supposed.” Gilberte confesses her childhood love and desire for Marcel. “And suddenly I thought to myself that the true Gilberte, the true Albertine, were perhaps those who had at the first moment yielded themselves with their eyes, one through the hedge of pink hawthorn, the other on the beach…” Gilberte’s desire for Marcel when she passed him in front of his house. And yet, “…indeed when we meet again after many years women whom we no longer love, is there not the abyss of death between them and us, quite as much as if they were no longer of this world, since the fact that our love exists no longer makes the people that they were or the person that we were as good as dead?” Marcel is no longer unhappy, and no longer curious who the young man she had been walking down Champs-Elysees a lifetime earlier. (He later learns that it was the actress Lea, dressed as a man. “Thus it is that certain persons always reappear in one’s life to herald one’s pleasures or one’s griefs.”) “And so I was obliged, after an interval of so many years, to touch up a picture which I recalled so well — an operation which made me quite happy by showing me the impassable gulf which I had then supposed to exist between myself and a certain type of little girl with golden hair was as imaginary as Pascal’s gulf, and which I thought poetic because of the long sequence of years at the end of which I was called upon to perform it…In short the image of Gilberte summed up everything that I had desired during my walks to the point of being unable to make up my mind to return home, seeing to see the tree-trunks part asunder and take human form. What I had so feverishly longed for then she had been ready, if only I had been able to understand and to meet her again, to let me taste my boyhood. More completely even than I had supposed, Gilberte had been in those days truly part of the Meseglise way.” Views from the window of Marcel’s bedroom at Tansonville. Physical memories of Albertine. Gilberte knows that Saint-Loup is cheating on her, but assumes it’s with other women. Saint-Loup’s new life has made him thin and jumpy, and “he now exhibited scarcely any trace of sensibility.” Saint-Loup’s lies to his wife, and his abject apologies when he’s caught. Morel is accepted as a “son of the house.” Francoise’s views of Legrandin and Theodore, Saint-Loup and Morel.
A couple of things…
1. It’s interesting to note that Proust describes Saint-Loup’s new behavior in terms almost identical to those he used to describe Legrandin:
Legrandin: “Legrandin had become slimmer and brisker, the contrary effect of an identical cause. This velocity of movement had its psychological reasons as well. He was in the habit of frequenting certain low haunts where he did not wish to be seen going in or coming out: he would hurl himself into them.”
Saint-Loup: “Robert…[had] become slimmer and taken to moving more rapidly, a contrary effect of an identical vice. This swiftness of movement had,moreover, various psychological causes, the fear of being seen, the wish to conceal that fear, the feverishness which is generated by self-dissatisfaction and boredom. He was in the habit of visiting certain low haunts into which, as he did not wish to be seen going in or coming out, he would hurl himself in such a way as to present the smallest possible target to the unfriendly glances of possible passers-by, like a soldier going into an attack.”
2. And of course, Proust’s description of Morel becoming a “son of the house” of Gilberte and Saint-Loup, “as much a part of it as Bergotte,” seeming to forget that Bergotte had died well before Gilberte’s and Saint-Loup’s marriage.
What’s going on? Ian Patterson, in his introduction to the Penguin edition of Time Regained (or as it’s called Finding Time Again) explains:
“The title Le Temps retrouve appears for the first time in a letter Proust wrote in the autumn of 1912, and at that time designated what was to be the concluding (second or third) part of the novel; the first was to be called Le Temps perdu (Lost Time). Between then ans its first publication in 1927, five years after Proust’s death, the projected novel underwent a series of changes, additions, alterations and rewriting, changing and developing almost out of recognition. Some things, however, did not change. The heart of this last volume, the chapters known as ‘Perpetual adoration’ and the ‘Bal des tetes,’ were already quite extensively drafted by 1910. When Proust died in 1922, the manuscript of Le Temps retrouve was complete, and at least to some extend revised, but it had not yet been typed. It contained contradictions, mistakes, repetitions and omissions (some of which are indicated in the notes to this translation), as well as the immense difficulties created by Proust’s corrections and alterations, both in the text and its margins and on the additional pieces of paper glued to the edges of pages, or interleaved between them. It fell to his editors — his brother Robert, and Jean Paulhan (who had succeeded Jacques Rivette as editor of the Nouvelle Revue Francaise in 1925) — to produce a coherent text for publication, which they achieved with a certain amount of cutting and pasting, omitting illegible passages, and adjusting many of the points where repetition or inconsistency occurred. Consequently, the text published in1927, and translated into English in 1931, was not entirely an accurate presentation of what Proust had written.”
There have since then, of course, been revisions and retranslations. As we make our way through Time Regained, or, if you prefer, Finding Time Again, I’ll do my best to work with both editions, and point out any differences, discrepancies, or additions that seem important to your understanding of the book. And again, please keep in mind that the key chapters of this book were extensively rewritten by Proust and reflect, as far as we know, his final wishes.
Moncrieff: Pages 16-27 “Saint-Loup insisted that I should stay on at Tansonville,” through “Here are the pages that I read before fatigue closed my eyes.” Kindle locations 227-34/371-78
Patterson: Pages 7-15 “Saint-Loup was insistent that I should remain at Tansonville…” through “Here are the pages that I read before tiredness closed my eyes.” Kindle locations 285-92/424-31