Bucket's Reviews > The Guermantes Way

The Guermantes Way by Marcel Proust
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Dec 06, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: 1001-read-all-editions, classic, culture, literary, reviewed, world-lit
Read from February 01 to 13, 2012

Compared to volumes 1 and 2, this volume spends somewhat less time deep in the musings of the narrator/author. Instead, quite a bit of the book is simply the dialogue that takes place at various aristocratic social occasions. Our narrator rarely says a word and takes it all in along with us. Proust, rightly so, trusts that we have enough sense of the narrator to see through his eyes as well as our own.

While the narrator is still young, somewhat naive, and very impressionable, he is also now an adult. Instead of crying for his mama (volume 1) or playing with the gang of girls (volume 2) he is attending receptions and dinners with Paris' aristocratic elite. It is fascinating to soak up the details of these events and funny to see how unsuccessfully calculating the characters are. The dinner with the Duc and Duchesse de Guermantes was wonderful. I loved the formula Proust built of discussing various aspects of their social wit (in essence, the "Guermantes way") and then providing examples in action through the dialogue. I was very amused by the Princesse de Parma's attempts to keep afloat.

The ending of this volume is the most compelling yet, and the story is definitely picking up steam. I'm looking forward to more insanity from the Baron de Charlus and what I assume will be the final downfall of the Guermantes name (in our narrator's estimation) at the Princesse's reception.

And of course there was the absolutely hysterical passage where the Duchesse gives instructions to have the giant photo evelope left at Mme. la Comtesse Mole's as a calling card. I love that image!

Themes: Parisian aristocratic social life at the turn of the 20th century, social structure, climbing (and falling) on the social ladder, love and conquest, wit, word vs. deed, the Dreyfus affair, literature, art
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02/02/2012 page 21
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