Moncrieff: 16-27; Patterson: 7-15
by Dennis Abrams
Saint-Loup informs Marcel that his visit to Tansonville has done much to cheer up Gilberte, and asks him to persuade her of his continuing love. Gilberte’s physical similarity to Rachael, and her attempts to use that to keep Saint-Loup’s love. Her fear of receiving a telegram from Saint-Loup saying he won’t be home, the telegram referred to by M. de Guermantes as “Cannot come, lie follows.” Saint-Loup’s “…artificially affectionate manner” towards Marcel, “which contrasted painfully with his spontaneous affection of the old days, with the voice of an alcoholic and an actor’s intonation…” Saint-Loup was “flattered at being loved by Gilberte…without daring to say that it was Charlie whom he loved.” Saint-Loup is becoming more like his mother, “…the haughty manner which he had inherited from her and which she, by means of the most elaborate training, had perfected in him was now freezing into exaggeration: the penetrating glance proper to him as a Guermantes gave him the air of inspecting everyplace in which he happened to be…” Saint-Loup’s movements, like those of a bird: “half social and half zoological, one asked oneself whether one was watching the passage of a great nobleman or a bird pacing its cage.” Phrases redolent of the age of Louis XIV. Saint-Loup can’t talking to Marcel about his “love,” although he insists it is a woman. Gay men generally make the best husbands, although Guermantes men, who insist on keeping mistresses as well to cover their tracks, are the exception to the rule, “That would not possibly be said of the Saint-Loups, because Robert, instead of being content with inversion, made his wife ill with jealousy by keeping mistresses without pleasure to himself.” Saint-Loup refuses to allow his conversation “to touch upon his own species of love,” insisting he knows nothing about it, and would prefer to discuss the Balkan war. Gilberte’s interest in the subject. Irony and the Balzac story, La Fille aux Yeux d’Or: Albertine: “But it’s absurd, improbable, nightmarish. For one thing, I supposed a woman might be kept under surveillance in that way by another woman, but surely not by a man.” “You are wrong. I once knew a woman who was loved by a man who in the end literally imprisoned her; she was never allowed to see anybody, she could only go out with trusted servants.” “Well, you who are so kind must be horrified at the idea…” Marcel thinks about the Combray church which he has yet to revisit, “‘Never mind,’ I said to myself, ‘that can wait another year, if I don’t die in the meantime,’ seeing no other obstacle but my own death and not envisaging that of the church which must, as I supposed, endure for centuries after my death as it had for centuries before my birth.” Gilberte has little to say about Albertine, leaving Marcel with more questions and doubts. On the last evening of his stay at Tansonville, Marcel begins reading the Journal of the Goncourts, “…my lack of talent for literature, of which I had had a presentiment long ago on the Guermantes way and which had been confirmed during the stay of which this was the last evening…struck me as something less to be regretted, since literature, if I was to trust the evidence of this book, had no very profound truths to reveal: and at the same time it seemed to me sad that literature was not what I had thought it to be.” Marcel will soon be in a sanatorium.
A couple of thoughts…
1. Despite his insistence that he’s over Albertine, Marcel still seems to be giving her and her activities a great deal of thought.
2. LOVED this:
“The Courvoisiers were more sensible. The young Vicomte de Courvoisier thought he was the only man alive, perhaps the only man since the beginning of the world, to be tempted by someone of his own sex. Supposing this inclination to come to him from the devil, he struggled against it, married an extremely pretty wife and had children by her. Then one of his cousins taught him that the tendency is fairly wide-spread and was even so kind to take him to places where he could indulge it. M. de Courvoisier became fonder than ever of his wife and redoubled his philoprogenitive zeal, and he and she were quoted as the happiest people in Paris.”
I love a happy ending.
And finally, an excerpt from Roger Shattuck’s Proust’s Way, discussing Marcel’s reading of the Goncourts’ journal:
“This scene, near the end, which includes Proust’s masterly nine-page parody of the Goncourt’s arty journalism, suddenly turns the action of the story back on itself, as when a passenger is startled to see the other end of his train while going around a curve. In the Goncourt ‘extract,’ Marcel finds himself reading about a dinner at the Verdurins’. The apartment, the people, the stories are all familiar. Yet, as now described, they appear bathed in a miraculous glow of literary and historic importance. The Goncourts have observed everything, right down to the elegant plates the meal is served on. Every detail of that life seems exciting and significant. In consequence, as he reads, Marcel feels everything tumbling down around his ears. He knew all these people. How could he have gone so far astray as to consider the Verdurins a couple of mediocre bourgeois social climbers and bores if they can inspire these ornate pages? The people he had classified as mere big players (figurants) turn out, in the Goncourts’ authenticating account, to be the leads (figures)”
Moncrieff: Pages 27-39 “The day before yesterday Verdurin drops in here…” through “And all this should make a star at night?” Kindle locations 371-78/526-33
Patterson: Pages 15-24 “the day before yesterday Verdurin drops in here…” through “Et que tout cela fasse un astre dans la nuit!” Kindle locations 424-31/577-84