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Sodom and Gomorrah (In Search of Lost Time, #4)
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Sodom and Gomorrah, vol. 4 > Through Sunday, 25 Aug.: Sodom and Gomorrah

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message 1: by Jason (last edited Jan 04, 2013 08:24PM) (new) - added it

Jason (ancatdubh2) This thread is for the discussion that will take place through Sunday, 25 Aug. of Sodom and Gomorrah, to page 641 (to the paragraph beginning: “Cottard arrived at length...”)


message 2: by Martin (new)

Martin Gibbs | 105 comments [Keeping spoiler free as much as possible since I'm a tad ahead before blasting off for vacation]

To return a little to the theme of darkening shadows: Perhaps it is because of a return to Balbec (for both Narrator and reader), but this trip, even with the thrilling escapes with Albertine, the late-night car rides, and the journeys to old churches, I still feel a sense that someone is slowly dimming the lights.

Interesting to note is Albertine's disappointment at the restoration of the church. Proust being high on Ruskin, and the Narrator sharing equal talents, we see that projection upon her. This surely endeared him to her more, though he may make off-hand statements that his love for her was waning.


·Karen· (kmoll) | 318 comments This week's reading was one of the most enjoyable for me - a lot of comedy, and real excitement and suspense. Not that I'm a thriller junkie, but it is nice when it's there as well as the mind-stretching sentences.

*going back to re-read*

BTW, for all of you readers in French, again, this week's break does NOT come at the beginning of a paragraph.


message 4: by Fionnuala (new)

Fionnuala | 1142 comments ·Karen· wrote: "BTW, for all of you readers in French, again, this week's break does NOT come at the beginning of a paragraph."

Yes, I didn't even search for it as I guessed it would be hidden in a long paragraph so it was a nice surprise when Cottard turned up, late admittedly, according to my page number calculations, but I excused him because of his nervous bladder!


·Karen· (kmoll) | 318 comments Oh yes! Another one of those comic moments - although we did stray a few lines into next week there, watch out for the rap on the wrist from Kal.


message 6: by Eugene (last edited Aug 19, 2013 12:08PM) (new)

Eugene | 479 comments Concerning the chauffeur and Morel,

I, knowing nothing of all this, engaged him by the day in Paris. But I am anticipating events; I shall come to all this when I reach the story of Albertine. ML p. 585

I suspect that Proust hasn't written what he promises to tell the reader; he has the idea but not the words yet. This is the case with most of his 'promises' regarding the unwritten future. I think we can look for a promise made in one published volume and modifications of it in subsequent, yet to be published (written in stone) writing, due to Proust's new ideas that obviate the original promise.

Furthermore when he addresses the "reader" in these promises he is really making a note to himself that this should be disclosed. In a sense here he is being a forerunner of (or a reason for) Reader Response Theory, later pioneered by Iser, Jauss et al, that "...recognizes the reader as an active agent who imparts "real existence" to the work and completes its meaning through interpretation" whose more radical tenet is that the author is the first reader of what he writes.


message 7: by Kalliope, Priestess of Proust (new)

Kalliope | 2929 comments Mod
·Karen· wrote: "Oh yes! Another one of those comic moments - although we did stray a few lines into next week there, watch out for the rap on the wrist from Kal."

page 248 in the G-F.

It took me a while to find it...

Cottard with bladder issues... mmm... this is a real thriller.

I was taken aback when we see the Narrator going for a horse ride... He is just full of surprises.. Duels, military service, horse-riding... All out of the blue.


message 8: by Eugene (last edited Aug 19, 2013 01:07PM) (new)

Eugene | 479 comments I attributed his change of attitude to the influence of M. de Charlus, which as a matter of fact did make him in certain respects less blinkered, more artistic, but in others, when he applied literally the grandiloquent, insincere, and moreover transient formulas of his master, made him stupider than ever. ML p. 586

For those of you who dislike Morel, Proust at his most direct should make you smile.

Let's look at this simple sentence. It is a period, not disclosing its devastating content until the last words, and it has a dramatic antithesis to it: "...did make him...more artistic..." and "...made him stupider than ever."

But along his syntactic way, Proust interrupts himself with a parenthetical beginning with "which" and continues with another parenthetical beginning with "when"; that latter has a sequence in parataxis that differs from the apposition in the parenthetical that precedes it.

Simple yet masterful.


·Karen· (kmoll) | 318 comments Eugene, Proust at his most direct is making me smile whatever I feel for any of the characters.

I was giggling inside about Charlus: believing that no-one realizes his little secret and that he's being so clever with his double bluff of talking so openly about inversion, but everyone smiling at each other behind his back or over his head.


message 10: by Kalliope, Priestess of Proust (last edited Aug 19, 2013 01:22PM) (new)

Kalliope | 2929 comments Mod
We have again the Boudin vaches....

Seules quelques vaches restaient dehors à regarder la mer en meuglant, tandis que d'autres s'intéressant plus à l'humanité tournaient leur attention vers nos voitures. Seul un peintre qui avait dressé son chevalet sur une mince éminence travaillait à essayer de rendre ce grand calme, cette lumière apaisée. Peut-être les vaches allaient-elles lui servir inconsciemment et bénévolement de modèles, car leur air contemplatif et leur présence solitaire quand les humains sont rentrés, contribuaient à leur manière à la puissante impression de repos que dégage le soir.

A group of cows looking at the sea:




Impression de repos:




message 11: by Kalliope, Priestess of Proust (new)

Kalliope | 2929 comments Mod
And we are mentioned again:

Mais puisque j'ai tellement anticipé, je ne veux cependant pas laisser le lecteur sous l'impression d'une méchanceté absolue qu'aurait eue Morel.


message 12: by Fionnuala (new)

Fionnuala | 1142 comments Yes, it was almost as if Proust had Boudin in mind.


message 13: by Kalliope, Priestess of Proust (new)

Kalliope | 2929 comments Mod
And another shaky comment on music.... Bach infinite variations on a violin.

These are presumably the Goldberg variations, which are for keyboard or an ensemble since it is formed by several voices. Hard to play just one voice on its own. Similarly to Beethoven's quartet on just one violin.

I remember what Louis Gautier-Vignal said about Proust's comments on music needing some editing.


message 14: by Kalliope, Priestess of Proust (last edited Aug 19, 2013 01:02PM) (new)

Kalliope | 2929 comments Mod
Fionnuala wrote: "Yes, it was almost as if Proust had Boudin in mind."

Yes, I think that is it... He did paint many vaches.... Direct reference... I doubt it is in the Karpeles book.


message 15: by Fionnuala (new)

Fionnuala | 1142 comments I was a little confused as to how exactly the Narrator wants us to imagine Morel. On the one hand, we are told of his underhand behaviour towards the Narrator as well as his devious manipulations of Mme Verdurin and her staff in order to oust the long serving coachman, on the other, we hear that Morel wasn't so bad after all: je ne veux cependant pas laisser le lecteur sous l'impression d'une méchanceté absolue qu'aurait eue Morel

But I do love when he compared him to a medieval manuscript:
Il ressemblait à un vieux livre du Moyen Age, plein d'erreurs, de traditions absurdes, d'obscénités, il était extraordinairement composite.
There is affection in this description, the kind we find sometimes in descriptions of Françoise.


message 16: by Kalliope, Priestess of Proust (new)

Kalliope | 2929 comments Mod
Yes, or the other great image, "un papier sur lequel on a fait tant de plis..."


message 17: by Fionnuala (new)

Fionnuala | 1142 comments Here's a wonderful sentence that is straight out of a soap-opera:
Comment aurais-je pu deviner alors ce qu'on me dit ensuite (et dont je n'ai jamais été certain, les affirmations d'Andrée sur tout ce qui touchait Albertine, surtout plus tard, m'ayant toujours semblé fort sujettes à caution car, comme nous l'avons vu autrefois, elle n'aimait pas sincèrement mon amie et était jalouse d'elle), ce qui en tout cas, si c'était vrai, me fut remarquablement caché par tous les deux: qu'Albertine connaissait beaucoup Morel.


message 18: by Kalliope, Priestess of Proust (new)

Kalliope | 2929 comments Mod
Fionnuala wrote: "Yes, it was almost as if Proust had Boudin in mind."

I have put the full quote of the cows, it is so beautiful and have put one more painting.

And no, Boudin and his cows are not in Karpeles... but it is as you say, a direct reference to him.


message 19: by Fionnuala (new)

Fionnuala | 1142 comments Kalliope wrote: "I have put the full quote of the cows, it is so beautiful and have put one more painting.
And no, Boudin and his cows are not in Karpeles... .."


I love this one - you posted it in the group lounge a while back:



message 20: by Unregistered* (last edited Aug 19, 2013 02:12PM) (new)

Unregistered* | 32 comments I'm a bit lost as I cannot find (haven't yet reached?) Cottard arriving late with bladder issues, but if the cows are in the field this week, then they are grazing right by the discussion of Balzac.

The forgotten "man of taste" who'd been so distressed by the death of Lucien was Oscar Wilde which he records in what I regard as his finest work, the essay The Decay of Lying

Highly relevant to Charlus' comments on the scene in Illusions perdues where Carlos Herrera (otherwise the convict Vautrin) drives past the chateau of Rastignac while thinking of the young man he used to love, are the remarks in a 1987 essay on Wilde, by Gore Vidal:
I suspect that one of the reasons we create fiction is to make sex exciting; the fictional meeting between Vautrin and Lucien de Rubempre at the coach house in Blazac's Illusions perdues is one of the most erotic ever recorded.


message 21: by Kalliope, Priestess of Proust (new)

Kalliope | 2929 comments Mod
Unregistered, Cottard and his bladder belong to next week.

Wonderful comment on Balzac and his characters. Thank you.


message 22: by Eugene (new)

Eugene | 479 comments Kalliope wrote: And another shaky comment on music.... Bach infinite variations on a violin. These are presumably the Goldberg variations...

I hear this "air" as one of the Partitas for Solo Violin; for example, No. 2 in D minor, BMV 1004 (I-V) goes on for over 28 minutes which I listen to now performed by Janine Jansen.


message 23: by Kalliope, Priestess of Proust (new)

Kalliope | 2929 comments Mod
Eugene wrote: "Kalliope wrote: And another shaky comment on music.... Bach infinite variations on a violin. These are presumably the Goldberg variations...

I hear this "air" as one of the Partitas for Solo Violi..."


I have Janine Jansen's record too, and have also listened to her in person.

The Partitas are not Variations as such. When one talks of Variations in Bach one is referring to the Goldberg.


·Karen· (kmoll) | 318 comments Unregistered* (hi! good to have you here) Cottard arrives right at the very end of this week's section - an Fi and I couldn't quite resist reading a few lines further, to find out why he was so late turning up to support Charlus. (Sorry)


message 25: by Kalliope, Priestess of Proust (new)

Kalliope | 2929 comments Mod
In the whole episode with the famous and academic musician visiting Harambouville where his niece lived...

Un grand musician, membre de l'Institut, haut dignitaire officiel et qui connaissait Ski.... de retour à Paris l'académicien lui permit d'assister à différentes séances privées, répétitions etc, où jouait le violoniste. L'accadémicien flatté et d'ailleurs homme charmant, promit et tint sa promesse.

This is probably a reference to Gabriel Fauré. He was the director of the Paris Conservatory from 1905-1920.

And just this morning I got the notice of the new recording of his piano pieces, by one of my favourite pianists, Angela Hewitt, coming out in a couple of weeks. I usually buy her records directly from her.


message 26: by Kalliope, Priestess of Proust (new)

Kalliope | 2929 comments Mod
We'll see whether this personality appears again in La recherche, but it looks like this is another instance of Marcel Proust peeking in directly.

The Narrator tells us of a burial in which someone thought that a given gentleman was the brother of the Duc. The reply:

Je lui repondis imprudemment qu'il se trompait, que ce monsieur, sans parenté aucune avec les Guermantes, s'appelait Fournier-Sarlovèze.

This F-S was either the grandson, a Robert, of the famous General from the Napoleonic times, a François. Robert F-S was a politician.

The incident just seems an isolated episode directly from the writer's life.





message 27: by Kalliope, Priestess of Proust (new)

Kalliope | 2929 comments Mod
This is for Unregistered*.

We also took a photo of Oscar Wilde's place in Le Père Lachaise. He is not very far from where Proust is.





message 28: by Fionnuala (last edited Aug 20, 2013 07:57AM) (new)

Fionnuala | 1142 comments Kalliope wrote: "This is probably a reference to Gabriel Fauré. He was the director of the Paris Conservatory from 1905-1920.
And just this morning I got the notice of the new recording of his piano pieces, by one of my favourite pianists, Angela Hewitt, coming out in a couple of weeks..."


What a happy coincidence, Kall.

With regard to Balzac, I loved Brichot's harangue about La Comédie humaine. Brichot uses some marvellous verbs, thésauriser (used by Rabelais, and so cleverly apt here since, in the same sentence Brichot also refers to Meudon where Rabelais lived), and cacographier, especially when combined with charabia, is not so much scathing as hilarious.
I think I can forgive a pedant anything if he is funny; without humour, he is the worst of bores. (Wilde's tomb has inspired me this morning!)
Proust really understands humour, Cottard is magnificent in his bumbling malapropisms, Charlus, super theatrical in his transparent strategems, the Verdurins, though ridiculously odious at times, still the reader always gets the last laugh. Proust has us in his sights.


ReemK10 (Paper Pills) | 1025 comments My goodness, already 29 comments and 49 views. I am so proud of all of you! A clever bunch!

Okay my humble contribution du jour which really tends to run more along the lines of de semaine. I was reading on page 584 where Morel says, " No, I'm not going to entrust my violin to any Tom, Dick or Harry."

I'm very curious as to how this translates in French. What are the names used in the original French?

A little sexual innuendo here, non?


message 30: by Kalliope, Priestess of Proust (last edited Aug 20, 2013 07:41AM) (new)

Kalliope | 2929 comments Mod
ReemK10 (Paper Pills) wrote: "Okay my humble contribution du jour which really tends to run more along the lines of de semaine. I was ..."

It looks like the translator has been a bit creative, Reem.

What Proust wrote is:

Mais non, je ne veux pas confier mon violon à n'importe qui.


message 31: by Kalliope, Priestess of Proust (new)

Kalliope | 2929 comments Mod
This is what the Revue des deux mondes looked like in 1910. This is the publication the Princesse Sherbatoff is reading in the train.




message 32: by Kalliope, Priestess of Proust (last edited Aug 20, 2013 10:04AM) (new)

Kalliope | 2929 comments Mod
My edition gives Balzac's description of the toilette grise of the Princesse de Cadignan, and that Albertine, via Elstir, is emulating:

Elle offrit au regard une harmonieuse combinaison de couleurs grises, une sorte de demi-deuil, une grâce pleine d'abandon, le vêtement d'une femme qui ne tenait plus à la vie que par quelques biens naturels, son enfant peut-être, e qui s'y ennuyait.





John White Alexander, 1893.


message 33: by Kalliope, Priestess of Proust (new)

Kalliope | 2929 comments Mod
I am always baffled when contemporary (or quasi) public figures are mentioned.

Both Thureau-Dangin (1837-1913) and Gaston Boissier (1823-1908) had been Members of the Académie Française.

Neither were alive when this volume was published, but they were still prominent figures in Proust's time. I imagine many of their relatives were still alive.

Reading this book in the 1920s, in France, must have had a very different effect from the one it has now on us.


message 34: by Kalliope, Priestess of Proust (new)

Kalliope | 2929 comments Mod
Related to the post above but on a different tone, my edition draws attention to Morel mixing up the two Boissiers... the Academician and the Confisseur...!!...

Morel talking to the Narrator:

...c'était là que votre grand-oncle faisait faire toutes ses emplettes pour les dames au moment du jour de l'an.


message 35: by Kalliope, Priestess of Proust (last edited Aug 20, 2013 10:22AM) (new)

Kalliope | 2929 comments Mod
Fionnuala wrote: "Kalliope wrote: "This is probably a reference to Gabriel Fauré. He was the director of the Paris Conservatory from 1905-1920.
And just this morning I got the notice of the new recording of his pian..."


As for Cottard's malapropisms....

I laughed out loud at his "Chateaubriand aux pommes"


ReemK10 (Paper Pills) | 1025 comments Kalliope wrote: "ReemK10 (Paper Pills) wrote: "Okay my humble contribution du jour which really tends to run more along the lines of de semaine. I was ..."

It looks like the translator has been a bit creative, Ree..."


Thanks Kalliope. I wonder, how do we feel about a translator taking creative license like this? Isn't it a cultural interpretation?


message 37: by Kalliope, Priestess of Proust (new)

Kalliope | 2929 comments Mod
ReemK10 (Paper Pills) wrote: "Kalliope wrote: "ReemK10 (Paper Pills) wrote: "Okay my humble contribution du jour which really tends to run more along the lines of de semaine. I was ..."

It looks like the translator has been a ..."


Yes, it is always a big debate... Some cultural transposition may be needed, but in a book like this, so embedded in French society of the time, and so very French, some of those expressions are just overdone.


message 38: by Unregistered* (new)

Unregistered* | 32 comments I've been turning over the obvious Charlus - Wilde allusion and had a look online where I found a comment that Painter considered that Charlus had been modelled a little from Wilde.

To me there didn't seem any connexion between their characters other than their infatuation for odious fauns. Well, perhaps also there's a parallel with Charlus' quixotic duel and Wilde's prosecution of Queensbury.

Painter, himself, states Possibly there is a little of Wilde in Charlus; and there is, more probably, something of the dangerous, beautiful Lord Alfred Douglas, who accompanied Wilde, and was sometimes to be seen at the Review Blanche office in the Rue Laffitte, in Charlie Morel.

Towards the back of If it Die Gide wrote a lengthy description of Wilde and his Bosie disporting in North Africa, however other than a selfish petulance there does not seem to me to be a great deal in common between the characters of Douglas and Morel.


message 39: by Kalliope, Priestess of Proust (new)

Kalliope | 2929 comments Mod
Unregistered* wrote: "I've been turning over the obvious Charlus - Wilde allusion and had a look online where I found a comment that Painter considered that Charlus had been modelled a little from Wilde.

To me there di..."


I am a bit skeptical of Painter ever since I read Louis Gautier-Vignal who criticized Painter for having written a bio without bothering to going over to France and interview people who had known Proust, many of whom were still alive.

Louis G-V was a personal friend of Proust and shared with him the years from 1914 onwards in Paris since neither of them could be at the front due to their health.


ReemK10 (Paper Pills) | 1025 comments Unregistered* wrote: "I've been turning over the obvious Charlus - Wilde allusion and had a look online where I found a comment that Painter considered that Charlus had been modelled a little from Wilde.

To me there di..."


Unregistered, welcome to the group. I wonder at your choice of user name and how you discovered this group at this stage of your reading. I'm sure you will find some very interesting posts here. Enjoy.


message 41: by Unregistered* (new)

Unregistered* | 32 comments thanks, Reem ... is not my choice of user name more obvious than yours?

This year I happened to have started in April rereading ISLT and part way through was looking online to see on whom Elstir may have been based. I came across Jim Everett's Proustreader blog on which was a post about this group.

Yes, there's definitely material of interest to me here though I'm not sure how confining I'll find the set reading schedule.


message 42: by ReemK10 (Paper Pills) (last edited Aug 20, 2013 05:58PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

ReemK10 (Paper Pills) | 1025 comments Unregistered* wrote: "thanks, Reem ... is not my choice of user name more obvious than yours?

This year I happened to have started in April rereading ISLT and part way through was looking online to see on whom Elstir m..."


You believe that your user name seems more obvious? More mysterious perhaps. Mine is my name which may sound foreign to you.

If you find our reading schedule too confining, read on your own but post comments according to the schedule. We have people who have already completed the year's reading but still post according to the set schedule. We are all wary of posting any spoilers, so do take care not to do so. If you would like to read along with us, you are more than welcome, if not, the choice is yours. We do have a great community of dedicated people contributing and enhancing our reading experience in this year of reading Proust together.


message 43: by Eugene (last edited Aug 21, 2013 07:56PM) (new)

Eugene | 479 comments At the present moment we are at La Raspelière, where I have just come to dine for the first time with my beloved, and M. de Charlus with Morel... ML p. 585

This weeks reading is very complex with the many unusual flashbacks, even flashbacks within flashbacks, which he interrupts in parenthetical fashion--as if he were writing a sentence--to explain his views of Morel, Charlus, the Princess, etc. before he continues his journey on the train to La Raspelière at which he's already arrived.

But above all the Judge was oblivious of the fact that what pleased me about these dinners at La Raspeliere was that, as he himself said quite rightly, though as a criticism, they "represented a real journey," a journey whose charm appeared to me all the more intense in that it was not an end in itself and one did not look to find pleasure in it—this being reserved for the gathering for which we were bound and which could not fail to be greatly modified by all the atmosphere that surrounded it. ML p. 591

Proust warns us of the journey we will take with the Narrator but in a flashback (he's in the hotel about to leave) as the journey has already begun, "the gathering for which we were bound and which could not fail to be greatly modified by all the atmosphere that surrounded it."

He even includes a flash forward in his principle flashback, if it's not an error and there is no proof that it is:

The fact was that on our first visit, Mme Verdurin having taken her upstairs to her dressing room so that she might tidy up before dinner... ML p. 592


·Karen· (kmoll) | 318 comments Unregistered* wrote: "This year I happened to have started in April rereading ISLT and part way through was looking online to see on whom Elstir m..."

Isn't it wonderful what connections the internet, Proust, and sheer happenstance can create? I'm glad you found us, it's always good to have someone who is re-reading: I think for a lot of us here this is our first journey, good to have a more experienced traveller alongside of us.

As for the reading schedule, yes, it is a little confining, but I've fallen into the rhythm of it quite easily. And as Reem points out, you can read as you will, and post in the relevant section.

Personally I like the discipline of really looking closely at 70 odd pages, otherwise I would just read on for sheer enjoyment.


·Karen· (kmoll) | 318 comments Kalliope wrote: "Yes, or the other great image, "un papier sur lequel on a fait tant de plis...""

Fionnuala wrote: "I was a little confused as to how exactly the Narrator wants us to imagine Morel. On the one hand, we are told of his underhand behaviour towards the Narrator as well as his devious manipulations o..."

Yes, I'm fascinated to see how Morel is portrayed, as he is, if I remember rightly, the first character so far who is truly crossing class - maybe apart from Odette? Although it was hard to say exactly what sort of milieu she came from, I know her mother put her out to work early in her life, but that doesn't necessarily mean she was working class.

But Morel is socially mobile, or to put it more negatively a 'social climber'. Something that nowadays we consider the norm is quite an achievement at this time of extremely rigid social stratification. It's interesting to see how he's depicted as duplicitous - maybe a prerequisite for survival - and also how his musical qualification is the most important thing to him, it is his passport, yes, but also shows a changing world, where the profession will become more important as a marker of class than any genealogical questions.

I'm wondering if the metaphors you've focussed on actually betray how hard the narrator finds it to 'read' such people. They both focus on confusion, mixed signals, confused lines - but surely that just means that the people around them do not know how to categorise them. I'm sure Morel would feel he was a whole and integrated identity. But he doesn't fit easily into other people's preconceived ideas.

I've been influenced here I think by my parallel reading of Thomas Mann, who is clearly somewhat disconcerted at the beginning of his career by the general dissolution of social certainties.


·Karen· (kmoll) | 318 comments Unregistered* wrote: "I've been turning over the obvious Charlus - Wilde allusion and had a look online where I found a comment that Painter considered that Charlus had been modelled a little from Wilde.

To me there di..."


Unregistered* I share your scepticism. It sound to me as if Painter was lighting on the only openly gay aristocrat he knew of.

However there are parallels in the structure of their relationships - not necessarily with Bosie. Wilde had clandestine relationships with 'rent-boys' which laid him open to blackmail as well.
It's something I was thinking about when we were discussing Swann's relationship with Odette, as that is also a lop-sided affair, which, to me, reflects the kind of inequality that would be inherent in male homosexual affairs at the time. Even if in France there was not the same level of legislation as in GB, homosexuality provoked opprobrium. A man of Charlus' status would not seek a partner of the same social standing as himself, as that kind of man would have far too much to lose - see Bosie's father coming down on Wilde to try to separate him from his son. Charlus himself would see his taste as a shameful need that has to be serviced, he probably wouldn't be able to see himself as offering partnership and a lifetime bond, but he can, through his status and wealth, offer other inducements. So it's only natural that he looks for partners where those kind of inducements will really count for something.
I think our idea of partnership as a mutual support, mutual companionship, friendship, love and whatever else is in the alloy is a very modern idea. Conventional male/female marriage at that time and in those higher classes was an exchange of capital, whether monetary or social capital. A woman would be married if she could bring financial or dynastic advantages, if she was attractive that was an added bonus and if the two partners could rub along without too much friction, all the better. This is obviously not a functioning model for a male/male partnership, so those will always slip into the modes of sexual desire and reward for its relief. Rather like Swann and Odette - he desired her, although she could not supply any social capital. And she made use of that desire to bond him to her.


message 47: by Kalliope, Priestess of Proust (last edited Aug 21, 2013 01:44AM) (new)

Kalliope | 2929 comments Mod
·Karen· wrote: "But Morel is socially mobile, or to put it more negatively a 'social climber'..."

Yes, this is a very interesting point on Morel, the crossing of social levels although he is presented as an amoral "arriviste". Proust is somewhat provocative in choosing to portray this kind of behaviour in a musician. So, gone are those lofty ideas of the confluence of aesthetics and ethics.

An interesting fact is that the character of Morel was not part of the first body of work. He is one of the "later" characters.

I also think that the Narrator himself, son of a technocrat, has succeeded in crossing social classes. He belongs to a wealthy family who are tenants of the Guermantes, but the Narrator manages to enter the aristocratic circle thanks to his good graces and wit.

We also see that the Narrator likes "les gens du monde" and the working class, but has less tolerance with the bourgeoisie, class to which he belongs.


message 48: by Fionnuala (new)

Fionnuala | 1142 comments I'm following this class discussion with interest, especially as the Narrator raises the issue in this week's reading, remarking on his and his mother's contrasting attitude to servants. And yet, for all of his professed disregard for class and his willingness to take lunch with his chauffeur, when he describes Morel and Françoise, it is almost as if he is identifying the characteristics of a different species - does he ever describe any common ground with them? I don't think so. In his descriptions of the aristocracy, he does acknowledge common ground.


·Karen· (kmoll) | 318 comments That's true, Fionnuala, I think he is fairly baffled by them... looks on them as some kind of exotic species indeed as you say. Perhaps conscious, or even self conscious, of appearing condescending? Whereas it is easier for him to appear obsequious? As you say he manages to enter a higher class, but we feel a certain unease with Morel and Françoise, no matter what he claims to the contrary.


message 50: by Eugene (new)

Eugene | 479 comments Class:

A lesson in the use of words only. For in point of fact I had never made any distinction between the classes. And if, on hearing a chauffeur called a gentleman, I had felt the same astonishment as Count X who had only held that rank for a week and who, when I said "the Countess looks tired," turned his head round to see who I was talking about, it was simply because I was unaccustomed to that particular usage; I had never made any distinction between working people, the middle classes and the nobility, and I should have been equally ready to make any of them my friends. With a certain preference for working people, and after them for the nobility, not because I liked them better but because I knew that one could expect greater courtesy from them towards working people than one finds among the middle classes, either because the nobility are less disdainful or else because they are naturally polite to anybody, as beautiful women are glad to bestow a smile which they know will be joyfully welcomed. ML p. 378

When I read this I didn't believe it, which is good as I was thrown into a review of the Narrators class relations after separating Proust from the Narrator and thinking of the latter only: his condescending relations with the hotel employees, etc. But with Proust too, it was also untrue; he was a climber (Carter, Montesquiou/Jullian) yet we are concerned with the novel here.

First person narrators can be unreliable: they don't know the future, they can be wrong, they can lie to the reader and to themselves on the pages before the reader, etc. They give the author an ability to make more real his or her characters to the readers, to engage the reader not that we need more engaging with the Narrator.

When the Narrator (1st person) speaks about the "contradictions" of Morel, that he may not be as bad as all that, the Narrator could be incredibly wrong too...

I wish that Morel played piano as my favorite classical music is from a violin.


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