Moncrieff: 418-428; Patterson: 283-290
by Dennis Abrams
“One thing struck me even more forcibly in all these people than the physical or social changes which they had undergone, and this was the modification in the ideas which they possessed of one another. Legrandin in the past had despised Bloch and never addressed a word to him. Now he went out of his way to be civil…social changes inevitably bring in their train a new pattern of relationships among those who have been affected by them.” “…people…do not in our memory possess the unvariability of a figure in a painting. oblivion is at work within us, and according to its arbitrary operation they evolve. Sometimes it even happens that after a time we confuse one person with another.” You forget how odiously someone has behaved, you forget his faults of character — all that remains is a memory of the excellent times you had together. “…the memories which two people preserve of each other, even in love, are not the same.” “…life, by placing each of these people on my path a number of times, had presented them to me in particular circumstances which, enclosing them finally on every side, had restricted the view which I had of them and so prevented me from discovering their essence. For between us and other people there exists a barrier of contingencies…” Reuniting the individual to the name, “And yet perhaps this in itself made life more poetic for me…” The charm of the Duchesse de Guermantes — visible only at a distance, vanishing at close range, “for the reason that it resided in my memory and my imagination.” The different reactions of young and old people to death. Forgetting who has died and who hasn’t. The spinster’s mother’s joy at the death of the Marquise d’Arpajon, due to the fact that “every time someone of her own age ‘disappeared’…she had gained a victory in a contest against formidable competitors.” The Princesse de Nassau, and her confusion as to whether there had been a “dalliance” between herself and Marcel. The appearance of a stout Gilberte, who Marcel (who has seen her earlier but never mind about that) thinks for a moment looks like Mme Swann. Robert Saint-Loup.
I know someone EXACTLY like this:
“When she heard that Mme d’Arpajon really had died, the spinster cast an anxious glance at her mother, for she feared that the news of one of her ‘contemporaries’ might ‘be a blow’ to her — indeed she already imagined people talking about her mother’s death and explaining it in this way: ‘Madame d’Arpajon’s death had been a great blow to her.’ But the old lady, on the contrary, far from justifying her daughter’s fears, felt ever time someone of her own age ‘disappeared’ that she had gained a victory in a contest against formidable competitors. Their deaths were the only fashion in which we still for a moment became agreeably conscious of her own life. The spinster noticed that her mother, who had seemed not displeased to remark that Mme d’Arpajon was one of those tired ole people whose days are spent in homes from which they seldom emerge, had been even less displeased to learn that the Marquise had entered the city of the hereafter, the home from which none of us ever emerges at all. This observation of her mother’s want of feeling amused the daughter’s sarcastic mind. And to make her own contemporaries laugh she gave them afterwards a comical account of the gleeful fashion in which her mother had said, rubbing her hands, ‘Gracious me, it appears to be true that poor Madame d’Arpajon is dead.’ Even the people who did not need this death to make them feel any joy in being alive, were rendered happy by it. For every death is for others a simplification of life, it spares them the necessity of showing gratitude, the obligation of paying calls. And yet this was not the manner in which Elstir had received the news of the death of M. Verdurin.”
Is there anything that Proust misses? Any element of human behavior?
And is he right in implying that at the end of our lives, all our anger at other people, our resentments is washed away, “from a mixture of forgiveness and forgetfulness and that indifference which is another effect of Time.”
I’m going to be taking the rest of the week off (I’ve got a LOT of cooking to get done tonight), so here it is…
The Weekend Reading:
Moncrieff: Pages 428-461 “‘I cannot tell you,’ I said,…” through “…this assertion caused no surprise whatever.” Kindle locations 5460-67/5872-79
Patterson: Pages 290-311″‘I can’t tell you how forcefully…” through “…came as a surprise to nobody.” Kindle locations 5211-19/5584-90
Enjoy. Enjoy your weekend. And have a terrific Thanksgiving!