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

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The Guermantes Way > Week ending 05/10: The Guermantes Way, to page 183 / location 19660

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Sunny (travellingsunny) Use this topic thread for all The Guermantes Way discussions through page 183 / location 19660.


Sunny (travellingsunny) "But after that first night I had to sleep at the hotel. And I knew beforehand that I was doomed to find sorrow there. It was like an unbreathable aroma which all my life long had been exhaled for me by every new bedroom, that is to say by every bedroom..."

Interestingly, so far, his every choice of female has also led him to sorrow.


Renato (renatomrocha) | 649 comments Mod
That's true, Sunny! And I'm curious to find out if it'll be like that for all of his future choices. I think in a way he longs for sorrow...

I really liked everything he said about sleeping and dreams. I myself have trouble sleeping, so I could really relate to what he was describing.

As we expected, in his visit to Saint-Loup, he asked him to let Oriane know they're friends and apparently they'll meet soon when Robert goes to Paris. Excited to see how that dinner goes and if he'll feel somewhat disappointed after talking to her... or if he'll be apprehensive and nervous trying to figure out what she thinks about him etc..

Also, I was quite shocked that the narrator went as far as asking Robert to give him the picture! He started the talk about Oriane all nonchalant, like it wasn't really an important deal to him and then bam!, let that out before he could think twice, haha.


Jonathan | 751 comments Mod
Renato wrote: "Also, I was quite shocked that the narrator went as far as asking Robert to give him the picture! He started the talk about Oriane all nonchalant, like it wasn't really an important deal to him and then bam!, let that out before he could think twice, haha. ..."

This part was the best bit of this week's section. As before the narrator is particularly selfish and creepy. He's really quite smarmy when he's trying to lead the conversation towards getting St-Loup to give him the photo. Mind you, I'm sure we've all been guilty of trying to wheedle something out of someone by sweet-talking them! Which would also appear creepy to a third person.

It's interesting that St-Loup balks at this request.

Following on from the previous week's read where the narrator stated that it would make him happy if all sorts of calamities would fall upon Mme Guermantes so that he could come along to help her; well, this week we had him being relieved that some bad news was for his 'best friend' St-Loup rather than for himself...nice.
I breathed a sigh of relief when I understood that it was only he [St-Loup] who had cause for unhappiness and that the news was from his mistress.



Jonathan | 751 comments Mod
I dunno, but I found this week's reading a bit dull; there were too many longueurs. For example, the bit at the beginning about sounds, the sleeping troubles bit and the military tactics conversation. I almost considered skipping that part as it was sending me to sleep.

The highlights, for me, were the conversations about Mme Guermantes and the photo, the narrator wandering about Doncières and the telephone conversation with his grandmother at the end.

My favourite quote from this section was (kindle loc1689/10944):
Occasionally I looked up towards some vast old apartment with its shutters still open and where amphibious men and women, adapting themselves each evening to living in an element different from their daytime one, swam about slowly in the dense liquid which at nightfall rises incessantly from the wells of lamps and fills the rooms to the brink of their walls of stone and glass, and as they moved about in it, their bodies sent forth unctuous golden ripples.
I'm not sure what to make of the 'amphibious men and women' but I like it. It reminded me of the Marquis de Palancy quote from the last section.


Jonathan | 751 comments Mod
I'm curious as to how long the narrator's visit lasted as it sounds like it was for weeks. Any ideas?

Maybe I'm just cynical but I got the feeling that St-Loup arranged the telephone call between the narrator and his grandmother knowing full well that it would make the narrator homesick and he'd eventually go back to Paris. Visitors soon become a pain after all.


Jonathan | 751 comments Mod
Although I didn't really enjoy the 'sleep' portion I did like this quote:
Why, when we regain consciousness, is it not an identity other than the one we had previously that is embodied in us? It is not clear what dictates the choice nor why, among the millions of human beings we might be, it is the being we were the day before that we unerringly grasp.
I don't think Proust can really be confused over this but as a literary piece it's quite interesting. I recently read a book of short stories by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky who delighted in this sort of identity confusion.


Jonathan | 751 comments Mod
Why did St-Loup deny that he was engaged to Mlle d'Ambresac? I'm tempted to take a sneak ahead...but I will resist the temptation.


Renato (renatomrocha) | 649 comments Mod
Jonathan wrote: "I'm not sure what to make of the 'amphibious men and women' but I like it. It reminded me of the Marquis de Palancy quote from the last section. "

That quote is stunning! I took it that he called them ‘amphibious’ as they could live both in daytime and nighttime, like those species who inhabits both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.


Jonathan wrote: "Maybe I'm just cynical but I got the feeling that St-Loup arranged the telephone call between the narrator and his grandmother knowing full well that it would make the narrator homesick and he'd eventually go back to Paris. Visitors soon become a pain after all. "

Interesting thought, Jonathan. It hadn't occurred to me, but that may be true.


Jonathan | 751 comments Mod
Renato wrote: "That quote is stunning! I took it that he called them ‘amphibious’ as they could live both in daytime and nighttime, like those species who inhabits both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems...."

Oh, good point Renato, that makes sense. I was originally thinking that they looked like frogs, ha ha!


message 11: by Dwayne (new)

Dwayne | 45 comments The latent homosexuality between the narrator and Saint-Loup. Oh just MAKE OUT already!!! Really though, I find that dynamic quite titillating.

And Jonathan you might be onto something with the arranged phone call. We're of course dealing with the narrator's perceptions of everything. So perhaps the doting adoration Saint-Loup lavishes on the narrator isn't so real.

And, another clue to that, the narrator's narcissism is intense. Especially those instances where it shines the brightest, specifically the one mentioned above where he is relieved at Saint-Loup's sadness and then when he "hates" Saint-Loup for not giving him the picture right away. Keep it classy, now! Doesn't make me love him any less though, I don't think. My reading of this is colored by an experience I've been having where I realize that I misunderstood something someone said to me years ago. Maybe this is the narrator's working through something similar. Maybe not!


Renato (renatomrocha) | 649 comments Mod
Dwayne wrote: "The latent homosexuality between the narrator and Saint-Loup. Oh just MAKE OUT already!!! Really though, I find that dynamic quite titillating."

hahaha I KNOW!


Jonathan | 751 comments Mod
I think that St-Loup genuinely likes the narrator, I just wonder whether the narrator has overstayed his welcome. It sounds like his visit was lasting for months. BTW I'm not so sure that the narrator genuinely likes St-Loup as he's only there to get an invitation to Mme Guermantes.

Life just seems to be full of misunderstandings and misinterpretations. I think this is where Proust excels.


message 14: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Baker | 29 comments I think he finds St Loup noble, in every sense of the word, but not terribly intelligent. I don't sense the sexual attraction for him, but rather for the other men who happen in the book to be women.


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Reading Proust's In Search of Lost Time in 2014

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Authors mentioned in this topic

Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky (other topics)