Reading Proust's In Search of Lost Time in 2014 discussion

The Guermantes Way (In Search of Lost Time, #3)
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The Guermantes Way > Week ending 05/03: The Guermantes Way, to page 93 / location 18538

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message 1: by Alia (new)

Alia (maripoezia) Use this topic thread for all The Guermantes Way discussions through page 93 / location 18538.


Renato (renatomrocha) | 649 comments Mod
I really enjoyed when the narrator talked about not being able to know whether Françoise loved or lothed him, which led him to reflect upon this:

"And thus it was she who first gave me the idea that a person does not (as I had imagined) stand motionless and clear before our eyes with his merits, his defects, his plans, his intentions with regard to ourself exposed on his surface (...)"

I wonder if this will have any future implications - as he himself wondered: "And in what depths of despair might this not some day plunge me, if it were the same with love?" - on his personality. As he seems to be such a sensitive person, I'm wondering if this will bring him insecurity issues and/or even trust issues.

What do you guys think?


Renato (renatomrocha) | 649 comments Mod
Whoa! This is amazing and so creepy at the same time:

"I was genuinely in love with Mme. de Guermantes. The greatest happiness that I could have asked of God would have been that He should overwhelm her under every imaginable calamity, and that ruined, despised, stripped of all the privileges that divided her from me, having no longer any home of her own or people who would condescend to speak to her, she should come to me for refuge. I imagined her doing so."


message 4: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Baker | 29 comments It's hard to figure out exactly how old Oriane is. I would say at least late 30s, and you figure the narrator is about 20 or 21? Really, all of these issues related to time seem to be jangled and in flux throughout the novel. (I'm just about to start Vol V) Sometimes he is acting like a 7 year old, knocking on the hotel wall to tell his grandmother to come, and next thing you know he's falling for a 40 year old, though in an infantile way. I find myself trying to nail down time by historical events (Zola's J'accuse, The Russo-Japanese war) and technology (automobiles). But everything floats around in the narrator's memory and is hard to pin to chronology.


Jonathan | 751 comments Mod
Renato wrote: "Whoa! This is amazing and so creepy at the same time:

"I was genuinely in love with Mme. de Guermantes. The greatest happiness that I could have asked of God would have been that He should overwhe..."


I thought that was a great, although disturbing, quote too. It's what you'd expect a child would want, but not be able to express - but to come from someone who is an adult is strange...but honest!

And then we also have his stalking of Mme Guermantes, which is also quite creepy, especially when he continues even though he realises that she has noticed it and she probably doesn't like it.


Jonathan | 751 comments Mod
Renato wrote: "I wonder if this will have any future implications - as he himself wondered: "And in what depths of despair might this not some day plunge me, if it were the same with love?" - on his personality. As he seems to be such a sensitive person, I'm wondering if this will bring him insecurity issues and/or even trust issues.

What do you guys think? ."


I think you're probably correct Renato. I enjoyed this section of the reading where the narrator is becoming aware that people lie and are deceitful and that Françoise may not particularly like him. I liked the quote '...for in those days I supposed that it was through words that the truth was communicated to other people.'

I had a similar revelation recently at just how bitchy and deceitful people can be even towards others that are pleasant, helpful and friendly. I guess that they begrudge these people their goodwill.


Jonathan | 751 comments Mod
This week's reading felt a bit as if we we're going over old ground. The narrator is back in Paris stalking and obsessing over a (different) woman, he's going to the theatre to see La Berma and he still gets in a panic over his sleeping arrangements.

There are slight changes though. It's amusing that although the narrator appears to like La Berma's performance more than his first time, he seems to spend more time watching the other members of the audience, especially the Guermantes. If I remember correctly when he first went to see La Berma he was irritated by all the chatter and movement that went on around him; now he's engrossed by it.

At the theatre the narrator observes that the 'vulgar people' accused the nobs of not paying attention to the play and the nobs could understand it 'if only they had had minds.' Ha! Ha!


message 8: by Renato (last edited May 04, 2014 01:03PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Renato (renatomrocha) | 649 comments Mod
Jonathan wrote: "This week's reading felt a bit as if we we're going over old ground."

I felt the same way! I feel he goes through the same thoughts over and over - either he's dissecting a point and keeps 'rambling' about it and making multiple analogies (some that even clouds what he's trying to convey - as we discussed in the previous book); or he's constantly coming back to the same themes. I guess some could see this as repetitive writing and maybe even a boring read, but I feel that's just brilliant on his part cause I can't help but feel that I always react and go through the same stuff over and over again during the course my life, following a pattern of my own. Of course we learn and grow and adapt etc., but I think the core of who we are remains somewhat intact. I guess that's what makes his writing feel real to me.


Jonathan wrote: " If I remember correctly when he first went to see La Berma he was irritated by all the chatter and movement that went on around him; now he's engrossed by it."

Haha very well observed! I didn't notice that, but it is true.


Jonathan | 751 comments Mod
Renato wrote: "Of course we learn and grow and adapt etc., but I think the core of who we are remains somewhat intact. I guess that's what makes his writing feel real to me. ..."

I think you're right here; rarely do we make large changes in our lives, instead we keep doing more or less the same but with different permutations.

And there are slight changes with the narrator's life and attitudes, which is a realistic portrayal of how we do change.


Jonathan | 751 comments Mod
I liked the phrase regarding Jupien where Proust says 'his face was inundated by his eyes'.

This was on kindle location 428/10944. BTW annoyingly this kindle version doesn't have real page numbers (as the previous volumes did) so I think I'll quote any future bits as above which should enable others to find roughly where it is in their own version.


Jonathan | 751 comments Mod
My favourite quote from this section was (loc:803/10944):
The Marquis de Palancy, his head turned sideways on his craning neck, his great round eye glued to the glass of his monocle, moved slowly around in the transparent gloom and appeared no more to see the public in the stalls than a fish that drifts by, unaware of the crowd of curious visitors, behind the glass wall of an aquarium. Occasionally he paused, venerable, wheezy and moss-covered, and the onlooker could not have told whether he was unwell, asleep, swimming, spawning or simply taking breath.
I especially liked the 'moss-covered' bit. The description almost sounded as if it was written by Mervyn Peake. I hope we see more of de Palancy.


message 12: by Marcelita (new)

Marcelita Swann | 246 comments Stephen wrote: "It's hard to figure out exactly how old Oriane is. I would say at least late 30s, and you figure the narrator is about 20 or 21?

But everything floats around in the narrator's memory and is hard to pin to chronology."


Dr Mark Caulkins leads The Proust Society of America-San Francisco reading group at The Mechanics Library.
He has one of the classic websites on Proust; here is his page on the the various chronologies.
http://www.tempsperdu.com/chrono.html


message 13: by Sunny (last edited May 06, 2014 06:23AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Sunny (travellingsunny) Help! I'm confused at the start of this volume. Where have they moved to? My translation (ha!) says 'Hotel de Guermantes' - with a little pointy brackety thingy over the 'o' that I don't know how to type. So, is this another hotel? What am I missing?


Renato (renatomrocha) | 649 comments Mod
Sunny in Wonderland wrote: "Help! I'm confused at the start of this volume. Where have they moved to? My translation (ha!) says 'Hotel de Guermantes' - with a little pointy brackety thingy over the 'o' that I don't know ho..."
Hi Sunny :)
My translation made it seem like they were renting an apartment on de Guermantes Palace. I found it a little weird as well.


Sunny (travellingsunny) Oh! An apartment... I wasn't getting that. But, now it's all perfectly clear! Thank you. :)


message 16: by Renato (last edited May 06, 2014 10:50AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Renato (renatomrocha) | 649 comments Mod
Stephen wrote: "I find myself trying to nail down time by historical events (Zola's J'accuse, The Russo-Japanese war) and technology (automobiles). But everything floats around in the narrator's memory and is hard to pin to chronology."

Gladly my Kindle versions have notes whenever the narrator talks about historical events, giving me an overview on them and also when they happened. :)


message 17: by Renato (last edited May 06, 2014 10:58AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Renato (renatomrocha) | 649 comments Mod
Jonathan wrote: "...his great round eye glued to the glass of his monocle, moved slowly around in the transparent gloom and appeared no more to see the public in the stalls than a fish that drifts by, unaware of the crowd of curious visitors, behind the glass wall of an aquarium..."

This impressed me so much for some reason and I loved it. I really could picture what he meant in my mind. It reminded me of a scene of Jacques Tati's Mon Oncle film, I guess because it's also about the eyes.


Sunny (travellingsunny) Can anyone tell me what is meant by "faggots" in my translation? Here's the quote, from when he's getting ready to walk into Saint-Loup's barracks:

"But it was only the freshly lighted fire beginning to burn. It could not keep quiet, it kept shifting its faggots about, and very clumsily."

I've tried googling a synonym, but I'm sure you can just imagine the things google is returning to me. :(


Sunny (travellingsunny) Also, is anyone else as SHOCKED as I am that our narrator is in love? With a perfect stranger? Again?

Stalker alert! LOL!


Jonathan | 751 comments Mod
Sunny in Wonderland wrote: "Can anyone tell me what is meant by "faggots" in my translation? Here's the quote, from when he's getting ready to walk into Saint-Loup's barracks:

"But it was only the freshly lighted fire begin..."


My physical dictionary (yes I still use one occasionally) gives it as a fuel: a bundle of sticks tied together. It's probably more of a British word. I also grew up eating faggots, i.e. a sort of meatball...not twigs...or anything else....

My Penguin translation just has: 'It could not keep quiet; it was shifting the logs about, and very clumsily.' I guess that a modern translator would be aware that an American reader might misconstrue the word 'faggot'.


Jonathan | 751 comments Mod
Sunny in Wonderland wrote: "Also, is anyone else as SHOCKED as I am that our narrator is in love? With a perfect stranger? Again?

Stalker alert! LOL!"


Yes he's stalking again. He can't stop even when he knows that she knows he's stalking her.

The quote that Renato gave in msg3 is particularly creepy as well.


Renato (renatomrocha) | 649 comments Mod
Sunny in Wonderland wrote: "Can anyone tell me what is meant by "faggots" in my translation?"

In Portuguese they translated it as "achas", which is like small pieces of wood used as firewood.


Sunny (travellingsunny) Oh, man! I just finished this week's reading, so I hadn't read everyone's comments yet. Now that I'm caught up, I see we are all 'on the same page'. Pun intended. BRAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!


message 24: by Renato (last edited May 06, 2014 12:55PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Renato (renatomrocha) | 649 comments Mod
Sunny in Wonderland wrote: "Oh, man! I just finished this week's reading, so I hadn't read everyone's comments yet. Now that I'm caught up, I see we are all 'on the same page'. Pun intended. BRAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!"

LOL did you see the quote where he wishes bad things would happen to her so he'd be rescue her? OMG! I loved it!


Jonathan | 751 comments Mod
I was just as shocked by the fact that the narrator actually made a trip on his own to see Saint-Loup. Though by the way it was introduced it looks like his only reason is to get Saint-Loup to put in a good word to Mme Guermantes.


Renato (renatomrocha) | 649 comments Mod
Jonathan wrote: "I was just as shocked by the fact that the narrator actually made a trip on his own to see Saint-Loup. Though by the way it was introduced it looks like his only reason is to get Saint-Loup to put in a good word to Mme Guermantes."

Oh I'm sure that is the reason, Jonathan! In Vol. 2 he wouldn't visit Saint-Loup at all because he didn't want to spend even a day without seeing Albertine and the girls... and now - at the highest point of his infatuation so far - he simply decides to make a trip?


message 27: by Dwayne (new)

Dwayne | 45 comments Once again, with the passage about Francoise and the disillusionment the narrator experiences when Jupien tells him things she said about him, Proust really nails the experience of questioning things we believed about people in our lives. It really is a grand disillusionment though ... it's not just about one person, it's about reevaluating the very way we previously perceived the world. Kind of going through that myself now!

But then, juxtapose that against something else you guys mentioned above -- the fact that we can never really tell how old the narrator is, based on what he writes. Proust has been careful never to have the narrator give ages, correct? There is a timelessness of the narrator's personality, at least as he describes himself. I look forward to seeing if this is reconciled later on. And even if it isn't, it's interesting to think about. When I think of myself at seven, am I really able to objectively know/remember the seven year old me, as a 38 year old looking back at who I was?

Anyway. I love this stuff! (PS I'm back! Sorry I was quiet for so long.)


Jonathan | 751 comments Mod
Welcome back Dwayne. I like the way Proust reveals more and more info about a character; very often concentrating on different aspects at different times. The characters, at times, appear almost cartoonish and then, bam, we see the character in a new light.

I found it interesting that Françoise was pining for Combray and the hawthorns even more intensly than the narrator.


message 29: by Dwayne (new)

Dwayne | 45 comments Jonathan wrote: "I found it interesting that Françoise was pining for Combray and the hawthorns even more intensly than the narrator."

I thought about that too, Jonathan! It makes me begin to wonder how many of the narrator's experiences are truly his (originally) and how many are borrowed and adopted.

To explore this, I can bring up that passage shortly after this volume opens about how "those years of my earliest childhood are no longer a part of myself; ... I can learn nothing of them save -- as we learn things that happened before we were born -- from the accounts given me by other people." That passage arrives smack dab in the middle of the larger passage about names and the jarring experience of being in the presence of things and people about which you had a preconception. We've explored this before with the narrator around Balbec.

It makes me think about the way we assimilate things into ourselves that we hear over and over again -- the power of storytelling and myth, if you will. Religion might fall into that category. And on a smaller scale, the narrator has assimilated that others think he is "a fine child" as Françoise tells him Marechal de Guermantes allegedly said about hinm in the Champs-Elysees before handing him a chocolate.

That brings me to the possibility of a moment when we sit with ourselves and reconcile all the things we thought about ourselves and the mythology we (and others!) created for us, some of which may have been curated from others' collections about themselves (for example, possibly, Françoise's love of hawthorns in Combray.)

Of course, I don't think it *matters* what is objectively real and what is borrowed or even imagined, especially after years and years of repeating the mythology to oneself. It has become real.

I'll circle back to Cocteau again like I did volumes back -- he worked within a mythology his entire life. The details of his life story changed over time and I think that's something to consider while reading Proust's Recherche, especially since those two fascinating guys were contemporaries who hung out together a few times.

As always, can't wait to see where it goes.


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