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Yearly Challenges > 2017 Proust Challenge: Book 4 Sodom and Gomorrah

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message 1: by Leslie (new)

Leslie | 15985 comments Here's the thread for the next book in the In Search for Lost Time series, Sodom and Gomorrah.


message 2: by Dianne (new)

Dianne Excellent thanks! I'm going to join the bandwagon for the rest of the series. :)


message 3: by Petra (new)

Petra | 3259 comments Great to have you with us, Dianne.
After the ending of The Guermantes Way, I want to start quickly.


message 4: by LauraT (new)

LauraT (laurata) | 13414 comments Mod
I can't start it at the moment; I'll pick it up at the beginning of July I'm afraid!


message 5: by Petra (new)

Petra | 3259 comments That's fine, Laura. I'm reading Proust slowly, so I'll still be reading then, too.
Although I want to start quickly, I haven't yet.


message 6: by Joan (new)

Joan I'm taking a short break from a dear narrator.


message 7: by Tom (last edited Jun 13, 2017 10:12AM) (new)

Tom | 824 comments Picks up pretty much from where Vol III left off with a revelation that no-one will find surprising. (At least I didn't.)


message 8: by Petra (new)

Petra | 3259 comments Joan, I hope you're back soon. We'll miss your participation but we'll always be here when you return.

Tom, I didn't have a chance to start the book yet. We had company last weekend and this week has been busy with appointments after work. I should be able to start by Friday, though, and am looking forward to it. The last section of The Guermantes Way makes me want to dive right in.


message 9: by Dianne (new)

Dianne I'm starting tomorrow night :)


message 10: by Tom (new)

Tom | 824 comments Dianne wrote: "I'm starting tomorrow night :)"

Have you read the first three volumes?


message 11: by Dianne (new)

Dianne I have read the first and third. I have no reasonable explanation for skipping the second.


message 12: by Tom (new)

Tom | 824 comments Dianne wrote: "I have read the first and third. I have no reasonable explanation for skipping the second."

Well I gave it 2 stars, so I'm not sure you're missing much. Then again, Proust does love to make reference to past volumes and bring up characters who appeared in them.


message 13: by Dianne (new)

Dianne Tom wrote: "Dianne wrote: "I have read the first and third. I have no reasonable explanation for skipping the second."

Well I gave it 2 stars, so I'm not sure you're missing much. Then again, Proust does love..."


I think I started with vol 3 as a group read, and then picked up volume 1 earlier this year. Now I want to jump on the bandwagon with you guys, so I'll just move on to 4 and read 2 later. Hopefully you guys will forgive any ignorant comments I make from missing volume 2 references!


message 14: by Tom (new)

Tom | 824 comments Dianne wrote: "Tom wrote: "Dianne wrote: "I have read the first and third. I have no reasonable explanation for skipping the second."

Well I gave it 2 stars, so I'm not sure you're missing much. Then again, Prou..."


No worries, it's easy to be ignorant with regards to Proust whether you've read him or not.


message 15: by Dianne (new)

Dianne Excellent!


message 16: by Joan (new)

Joan Welcome Diann, I don't think you'll be at a disadvantage- the books are so rich/dense I forget more than half of what I read anyway.


message 17: by Petra (new)

Petra | 3259 comments Dianne, I'm glad you are joining us. Our group is growing! How awesome is that???!!

Joan, I had to laugh at your comment because I think the same. It hasn't bothered my yet; it's such a rich story.


message 18: by Joan (new)

Joan Is just me or is this statement salacious? (view spoiler)


message 19: by Tom (new)

Tom | 824 comments Joan wrote: "Is just me or is this statement salacious?"

I don't think so. (view spoiler).


message 20: by Joan (new)

Joan Tom wrote: "Joan wrote: "Is just me or is this statement salacious?"

I don't think so. [spoilers removed]."


I guess I have to get my mind out of the gutter - the image of (view spoiler)


message 21: by Tom (new)

Tom | 824 comments That's what I was talking about about the revelation that no-one will find surprising. (view spoiler)


message 22: by Joan (new)

Joan Right no surprise, but I wonder at M. Charlus statement: "With young society men, (view spoiler)


message 23: by Joan (new)

Joan Having read a bit further, I feel a bit like someone who has overlooked the "Mene, Tekel, Upharsin" and uttered a ridiculous observation.


message 24: by Petra (new)

Petra | 3259 comments I'm surprised at the Narrator's touching and insightful acceptance of Charlus' (and Jupien's) homosexuality. He's surprised (?; perhaps "awakened" is a better word?) but his reaction is one of someone who accepts.
I looked up the general situation in France on homosexuality in the 1920s and found a note about the French civil code stating "As long as homosexuals do not harass public, adults are permitted to live out homosexuality".


message 25: by Petra (new)

Petra | 3259 comments Joan wrote: "Is just me or is this statement salacious?
As Marcel is thinking about M. Charlus, "I wondered whether...the improbable insect would come to visit the tendered and forlorn pistil" "


I agree with Tom and think not: (view spoiler)


message 26: by Petra (new)

Petra | 3259 comments Joan wrote: "Right no surprise, but I wonder at M. Charlus statement: "With young society men, for example, I don't desire physical possession, but I can't rest until I've touched...some chord in them".
He say..."


I'm not quite this far yet but wonder if this is a matter of not wanting what one has achieved. Charlus' interest may be in the chase; not the prize.


message 27: by Petra (new)

Petra | 3259 comments Also......how creepy is it knowing that our Narrator actually listens in on sexual encounters??!!!! He's one creepy dude.


message 28: by Petra (new)

Petra | 3259 comments Joan wrote: "Right no surprise, but I wonder at M. Charlus statement: "With young society men, for example, I don't desire physical possession, but I can't rest until I've touched...some chord in them".
He say..."


I just reached this section.

Is Charlus saying that he's attracted to the "lower" classes (sleeping-car attendant or bus conductor) in a physical sense and it's the "young gentlemen" that he has no physical desire to touch but wants them to want him?


message 29: by Tom (new)

Tom | 824 comments Petra wrote: "Joan wrote: "Is just me or is this statement salacious?
As Marcel is thinking about M. Charlus, "I wondered whether...the improbable insect would come to visit the tendered and forlorn pistil" "

..."


And (view spoiler)


message 30: by Petra (new)

Petra | 3259 comments Petra wrote: "I'm surprised at the Narrator's touching and insightful acceptance of Charlus' (and Jupien's) homosexuality. He's surprised (?; perhaps "awakened" is a better word?) but his reaction is one of some..."

Now I'm not so sure that he's accepting. He seems somewhat derogatory, as well. Proust.......!!!!


message 31: by Petra (new)

Petra | 3259 comments LOL, Tom! That's also a consideration. :D


message 32: by Joan (new)

Joan Petra wrote: "Joan wrote: "Is just me or is this statement salacious?
As Marcel is thinking about M. Charlus, "I wondered whether...the improbable insect would come to visit the tendered and forlorn pistil" "

..."

I like your interpretation incorporating instinct over thought.

The "tendered and forlorn pistil" still reminds me of those bawdy lines of William Shakespeare the ones scrubbed out of editions for high school students and flower paintings by Georgia o'Keefe.

Our dear narrator has come a long way from whining brat, to stalker adolescent, shallow society climber and now kinky voyeur.


message 33: by Joan (new)

Joan Tom wrote: "Petra wrote: "Joan wrote: "Is just me or is this statement salacious?
As Marcel is thinking about M. Charlus, "I wondered whether...the improbable insect would come to visit the tendered and forlo..."


Haha!


message 34: by Petra (new)

Petra | 3259 comments Joan, I'm wondering how the "flower, and insect" meshes with "homosexuals are hidden women" ideas. The flower and insect is rather a passive-aggressive idea, in that the flower just hangs around looking pretty, waiting to be noticed, and the insect does the approaching and the seduction. Is the Narrator saying that the (all, most, some?) homosexual, as a hidden woman, hangs around waiting for some "insect" to be attracted to them? In which case, Charlus is the insect looking for the pretty flower. LOL!

Our narrator is still creepy. He has matured but he's still a sneaky spy. He can't seem to outgrow that.


message 35: by Joan (new)

Joan I'm caught between the not knowing the ideas about sex/gender in Proust's time and our current understanding that homosexuality and transgender are different and both encompass a range of experience.


message 36: by Tom (new)

Tom | 824 comments @Joan - I think Charlus is saying that he wants to get physical to the lower classes, with the inference that they really can't do anything if they get caught. The "young gentleman" (who could damage him a lot more, being higher in the social hierarchy) on the other hand, he would not risk being physical with, but he does want to make the emotional conquest just the same. And Marcel has always been a voyeur - he mentions spying on Mlle. Vinteuil and her female lover back in Vol. I.


@Petra - I think that's exactly what he's saying. The parallel between the insect/flower and (view spoiler) was pretty up front I thought.

I was surprised at how non-judgemental Marcel is with regard to the scene. Even despite the fact that Charlus mentions him as an animalcule who has shown him (Charlus) a want of civility. If he does mock, it's likely because the new versions of the people he's seeing are so at odds with what he's known, it's the only way he can initially process the information.


message 37: by Joan (new)

Joan Tom, can you point me toward what suggests that Charlus thinks about social damage by society boys?
As a Guermantes, he probably considered most of the society boys as beneath him anyway - there are several examples of that by Guermantes in the last book and that attitude would be consistent with the era.
I think Charlus enjoyed humiliating and rejecting his conquests- he just used different techniques for waiters vs society boys.


message 38: by Joan (new)

Joan Tom wrote: "@Joan - I think Charlus is saying that he wants to get physical to the lower classes, with the inference that they really can't do anything if they get caught. The "young gentleman" (who could dama..."

Ah, my memory let me down again on the Mme Vinteuille scene as the spying part of it didn't stick with me. What I had retained was Marcel recounting the cruelty of the women towards the father - and how that paralleled the petty meaness in his own family when his aunt harassed his Grandmother or his father mocked his aunts. For me, book 1 was a lot about family dynamics.


message 39: by Tom (new)

Tom | 824 comments Joan wrote: "Tom, can you point me toward what suggests that Charlus thinks about social damage by society boys?
As a Guermantes, he probably considered most of the society boys as beneath him anyway - there ar..."


I can't because that's my interpretation of his difference in treatment. The lower class he wishes to dominate physically as well as emotionally. The society boys, as members of the aristocracy (but still lower than Charlus) he just dominates emotionally. The only reason I can see is that no-one would care what would happen to a serving maid, or a car attendant nor their family. An aristocratic family, like Chatellerault, on the other hand, would be able to make some waves that Charlus would rather avoid.

I seem to recall though, that in Volume III Marcel refers to rumors of Saint-Loup, Chatellerault and their two friends having relations with each other was subsequently proven true.


message 40: by Tom (new)

Tom | 824 comments Check out the huge sentence that comes in the paragraph where Marcel arrives at his conclusion about Charlus.


message 41: by Petra (new)

Petra | 3259 comments Is there time for a nap in the middle? LOL.....
(looking forward to finding this)


message 42: by Tom (new)

Tom | 824 comments In my translation (Modern Library) it begins... "And lastly--according at least to the first theory which I sketched in outline at the time, which we shall see..."

Among other things it talks indirectly about the social damage in the sense of being outed.


message 43: by Tom (new)

Tom | 824 comments There's also an interesting related article from Salon magazine.


message 44: by Joan (new)

Joan thanks, I'll check them out tonight.


message 45: by Joan (last edited Jun 19, 2017 05:13PM) (new)

Joan Thanks for the Salon article- interesting background.
Your interpretation, Tom, reminds me of the scandal in The Picture of Dorian Gray - whispers of Dorian or the other guy corrupting young peers (I forget the details). Of course homosexuality was illegal in Dorian Gray's world.
It's surprising to me that France legalized homosexuality in the 1790's (during the revolution) if public opinion was so strongly opposed to it.

Have you read any of Rick Whitaker's other stuff? I'm not recommending him; I'm not a fan, and I do wish he would stop trying to be edgy and just use punctuation :)


message 46: by Joan (new)

Joan Petra wrote: "Is there time for a nap in the middle? LOL.....
(looking forward to finding this)"


LOL, I started that paragraph last night but decided I preferred sleep. I'll try to conquer it tonight.


message 47: by Joan (last edited Jun 20, 2017 04:25PM) (new)

Joan The Princess Guermantes has parties that are much more interesting than her cousins', at least so far.

Chapter 1 opens with the Proustian writing I enjoy: a delightful description of light & scene, followed by musings on perception.

And a new word - mithridatized- not exactly a useful term.


message 48: by Joan (new)

Joan Please correct me if I'm wrong, I'm having a hard time understanding events at Princess G.'s party.
In my edition homosexual seems to be translated as invert and Proust seems to be finding similarities between Dreyfusards and homosexuals.
Thus leaving me very confused.


message 49: by Tom (last edited Jun 21, 2017 02:49PM) (new)

Tom | 824 comments He seems to be drawing similarities between oppressed peoples - homosexuals/inverts, Dreyfusards and Jews. (He also acknlowedges many Jews are Dreyfusards because Dreyfus was a Jew.) They seem to have their own secret societies in the sense that the members of each can generally tell who also is one of "their own", especially since they are cast out of mainstream society. If you wanted an example of gaydar, you don't have to go further than the first few pages of the book.


message 50: by Joan (new)

Joan Thank you for clarifying that. M. Charlus does seem confident about his gaydar! It reminds me the sitcom "Will & Grace".

The description of the party is lively - quite a few laugh out loud moments.


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