One Year In Search of Lost Time ~ 2015 discussion

The Guermantes Way
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The Guermantes Way > Week I ~ Ending May 2nd

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Simon (sorcerer88) | 176 comments Our reading ends:
"It causes us pain that she is unaware of them, and we try to console ourselves with the thought that precisely because they are never visible she has perhaps added to her present opinion of us this possibility of undisclosed advantages" (~10.23%).


message 2: by Simon (last edited May 05, 2015 01:19PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Simon (sorcerer88) | 176 comments I only found this week's target mark after i had read past it as i am reading a german translation, but thankfully it's a rather significant sentence.

Marcel's family moving was quite a surprise to me. I read a sentence beginning "In the House, which we just moved into..." and said to myself "wait, they moved? is this the first time this is mentioned?". It seems like a refreshing change. Come to think of it, Marcel travels and changes his lodging quite often.
Then Francoise was mentioned as having become old, and i thought to myself, boy does time move quickly, even in ISOLT!

I found it striking how again Marcel finds a fascination simply in the image of a person, in Madame (Princess? Duchess! thanks BP) Guermantes, her looks, how he imagines she must be. He imagines a colorful, mystical, grand personality in someone he barely knows. He fell for this a-priori romantic idealization at least with Swann and Odette before, perhaps Berma and Bergotte too. And i'm sure i'm missing other examples.
There's a sentence that illustrates that well, something like "My dreaminess created a nymbus for everything pertaining to that person".

I guess you are fortunate that I won't bombard you with quotes for this volume, because i only have the german edition ;)


Teresa Simon wrote: "Then Francoise was mentioned as having become old, and i thought to myself, boy does time move quickly, even in ISOLT!"

Do we know how old Francoise was in the first volume? I don't remember. Perhaps she was already on her way to being 'old' then ...

Definite parallels between Odette and Madame Guermantes. For me the references to the latter and then to her cousin Duchess Guermantes were sometimes confusing.


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Jacob (jacobvictorfisher) | 112 comments I haven't finished reading this section, but I'm pretty sure M. and Mme. Guermantes are the same as the Duc and Duchesse de Guermantes. Perhaps in this section the narrator mentioned that they are cousins too which is where the confusion lies. I know this fact was mentioned in Swann's Way


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Book Portrait | 44 comments The references to Mme. de Guermantes are very confusing in this volume - particularly in the scene at the Opera where the Princesse de Guermantes has invited her cousin the Duchesse de Guermantes (Oriane, married to Basin, Duc de Guermantes; and the object of our dear narrator's obsessive obsession) in her lodge (wonderful descriptions of the "baignoire" and all its aquatic inhabitants...). Both women are referred to as Mme de Guermantes.

More of these characters here (spoiler warning!): https://books.google.fr/books?id=WID3...

Here's a handy site to for a quick check of the innumerable characters in La Recherche: http://www.tempsperdu.com/achar.html

{I meant to join the group read earlier but ran into some internet snafu contretemps and other life imponderables but I'm hoping to tag along from now on and reread some of the volumes I read too fast on my first run in 2013... *waves at Teresa, Sue & Marcelita*}


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Book Portrait | 44 comments Two inspirations for la Duchesse de Guermantes:

Laure de Chevigné:


{the bird-goddess...}

http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laure_de...

La Comtesse Greffulhe:





http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%89li...


Teresa Book Portrait wrote: "Both women are referred to as Mme de Guermantes."

Ah, that was my issue then. Thanks, BP; it's great to see you here!


message 8: by Simon (last edited May 05, 2015 01:26PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Simon (sorcerer88) | 176 comments Oh, yes, i made a mistake in thinking the Princess de Guermantes, not the Duchess, was the Madame that Marcel worshipped and tried to meet on her every stroll. Thanks for clearing that up, BP!
Now i wonder why Marcel worships, almost falls in love with the duchess, who must be far older than him (exactly (view spoiler) years actually), instead of close to his age like the Princess presumably. Or maybe not, i actually thought the duchess was the mother of the princess, not her cousin. Ahh, this family really is confusing. Then again, worshipping older women is probably not uncommon especially for artistic persons.


message 9: by Marcelita (last edited May 05, 2015 08:24PM) (new)

Marcelita Swann | 74 comments Simon wrote: "I only found this week's target mark after i had read past it as i am reading a german translation, but thankfully it's a rather significant

"I read a sentence beginning "In the House, which we just moved into..." and said to myself "wait, they moved? is this the first time this is mentioned?"


Proust slyly slips foreshadowing "clues" into the novel, which are usually found on the second reading. Nothing is random.

"My grandmother had returned from the call full of praise for the house, which overlooked some gardens, and in which Mme de Villeparisis had advised her to rent a flat, and also for a repairing tailor and his daughter who kept a little shop in the courtyard, ..." MP (SW)


In WBG, we learn it is the "house" of the Guermantes.
Notice also "...tailor and his 'daughter'..." which we will return to later.


message 10: by Marcelita (last edited May 05, 2015 08:27PM) (new)

Marcelita Swann | 74 comments Book Portrait wrote: "Two inspirations for la Duchesse de Guermantes:

La Comtesse Greffulhe:..."



Newest biography:
La Comtesse de Greffulhe ; l'ombre des Guermantes
Laure Hillerin



"Franck Ferrand nous plonge aujourd'hui dans les années 1900 où la comtesse Greffulhe pouvait allier élégance et curiosité, tradition et avant-gardisme...L’ombre des Guermantes : c’est le sous-titre de la biographie de la comtesse Greffulhe que fait paraître Laure Hillerin, chez Flammarion. Si la Belle Époque porte ce nom, c’est à des égéries comme la comtesse Greffulhe qu’elle le doit. #ACDH"
http://www.europe1.fr/mediacenter/emi...

Laure Hillerin will be speaking at the 'Hawthorn Festival' in Illiers-Combray, May 16th.

"« La Journée des Aubépines », c’est le samedi 16 mai à Illiers-Combray avec Laure Hillerin (La comtesse Greffulhe, L’ombre des Guermantes), Sylvie Leteillard (comédienne), Élyane Dezon-Jones et Stéphane Heuet (Le Fantôme du petit Marcel) et l’incontournable circuit proustien en autocar…"
http://lefoudeproust.fr/2015/04/dautr...


More than you may wish to know:
http://www.comtessegreffulhe.fr/marce...

Her clothing will be exhibited in Paris later this year:

http://www.palaisgalliera.paris.fr/fr...
https://translate.google.com/translat...

The most interest news for Proustians?

*Hillerin found the "thought to be lost" article Proust wrote for Le Figaro, describing an afternoon salon party at the Comtesse de Greffulhe's. Proust wrote it under the pseudonym of "Dominique."

Chris Taylor wrote:
"1. This article was long thought to be lost, when it was rediscovered by Laure Hillerin when she was researching for her biography: La Comtesse de Greffulhe. L'Ombre des Guermantes. Whilst exploring the archives “I alighted upon a little blue envelope. On the front written in pencil: ‘article to follow up Calmette’. On the back, in blue pencil ‘Soirée at ctesse G.’s’. Inside, eight printed sheets held together with a paperclip, numbered in blue pencil. At the end, a signature: Dominique. My heart beat wildly: I had discovered the unpublished article by Proust.”
Calmette from the Figaro had sent the proofs to the Comtesse for her approval. Apparently Mme Greffulhe refused permission for the article to be printed.
Towards the end of her life Mme Greffulhe wrote: “He [Proust] sent me a portrait of myself that he composed after having seen me, which was one of the great desires of his life. He asked me to return it to him if I found it good. But, having a great dread of publicity because of my husband, I hid it away in Bois-Boudran. Alas! Is it lost?” " Chris Taylor


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Book Portrait | 44 comments Teresa wrote: "... it's great to see you here!"

I'm so glad you are Sue are reading this. :)


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Book Portrait | 44 comments Simon wrote: "ONow i wonder why Marcel worships, almost falls in love with the duchess, who must be far older than him (exactly (view spoiler) years actually), instead of close to his age like the Princess presumably..."

It never occured to me to think about the age gap (how did you get to that number? I think I missed the clues...)... maybe because the novel is so "fluid" with time (we barely know when we are) or because I conflate our narrator with Marcel as a young man (in his early twenties) roaming the Parisian salons and dazzling with his wit while being fascinated with this aristocratic world... Maybe also because the narrator's infatuations recall his admiration for works of art: all interiorised, detached from reality and not destined to become reality as the spell would be broken... Interior life seems to trump reality and satisfy our narrator much more than "real life"...


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Book Portrait | 44 comments Marcelita wrote: "Newest biography:
La Comtesse de Greffulhe ; l'ombre des Guermantes
Laure Hillerin..."


Hi Marcelita! Good to see you, here of all places, who could have possibly guessed? ;)

I've been trying to get my library to buy the countess' biography but so far no luck... maybe if I slip a second "request" they'll take pity on me and give in? ^.^

Are you attending this year's "Journée des Aubépines" in Combray? I missed it in 2013 - went during the summer and the aubépines were no longer in bloom, although the village was charming, if a little sleepy...

I put the Galliera exhibition in my calendar! Isn't it the one that got cancelled/postponed last year? Glad they're finally doing it. The clothers look drop-dead gorgeous...


message 14: by Book Portrait (new)

Book Portrait | 44 comments Marcelita wrote: "More than you may wish to know:
http://www.comtessegreffulhe.fr/marce..."


Looking at your links. I love it: on her ID card, she gave a fake birth date so that she was EIGHT years younger! ^.^



And we learn she was 1m68, rather tall...


Simon (sorcerer88) | 176 comments BP, i got the age gap from the link you posted yourself! A characterization of the Duchesse de Guermantes.
https://books.google.fr/books?id=WID3...

of course Marcel also came close to falling in love with Odette, too, at least found this adoration for her, who is also far from his age.


message 16: by Marcelita (last edited May 06, 2015 08:07AM) (new)

Marcelita Swann | 74 comments Book Portrait wrote: "Marcelita wrote: "Newest biography:
La Comtesse de Greffulhe ; l'ombre des Guermantes
Laure Hillerin..."

Hi Marcelita! Good to see you, here of all places, who could have possibly guessed? ;)

I'..."


Oh, BP, what a treat to have you showering us with amazing resources.
Alas, 2015 is not as populated as 2013; however, there are wonderful, close readers here. I am learning, my favorite way to pass the time, to see the novel through "their eyes."

My dream...to spend spring in Illiers. Bill Carter will be visiting soon, as he leads a Proust tour. http://www.poshnosh.com/tbtb/paris-pr...

Yes, it believe the Galliera may have been the costume exhibit that I had read about before. I wish someone (you?) would lifestream their visit, with Periscope or Meerkat, if permitted of course. :)
Old article:
http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB1000142...

(La Comtesse de Greffulhe's dress: 13/16) http://www.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10...

Latest proust event: Proust and Ruskin, June 6th at Cathédrale d'Amiens.
https://twitter.com/bastianellijero/s... test:

Off to the ALBERTINE Bookstore, where Jean Findlay will speak about her biography of Scott Moncrieff on May 21st.
http://albertine.com/events/chasing-l...

Are you still reading in French?


message 17: by Marcelita (last edited May 06, 2015 08:45AM) (new)

Marcelita Swann | 74 comments Book Portrait wrote: "Marcelita wrote: "More than you may wish to know:
http://www.comtessegreffulhe.fr/marce..."

Looking at your links. I love it: on her ID card, she gave a fake birth date so that she was EIGHT years..."


She must have loved Nadar's photograph...to use as an ID!

Comtesse Greffulhe photographed by Nadar in Worth.
Now, in the museum.
http://www.palaisgalliera.paris.fr/fr...

Maybe we can get Annie Leibovitz for our passports. ;)


Oh...and don't her eyes have a distant echo of Marcel's?


(Excerpt from the newly found Le Figaro article, translated non-commercially by a favorite Proustian, Chris Taylor:

"Mme Greffulhe standing in front of the door "seems like a great golden bird" ready to spread her wings. Her wonderful eyes change their appearance at every moment: "Do you see that cloud up there", as Hamlet said to Polonius, "to me it looks like a weasel", and at every moment he finds in it a different resemblance so ceaselessly does it keep taking on a new appearance. Mme Greffulhe's eyes are no less changeable. Immobile for a moment, they are like a mineral beauty in precious stone. It might be said that displayed in a glass case they would illuminate a Louvre. Now her pupils have the appearance, in her eyes, of a pebble thrown into limpid waters. But a look has crossed them as she smiles at one of her friends who is just coming in and straight away they are dissolved, they are held like a blessing from on high, like the mysterious and transparent sweetness of stars. Now they are like the beautiful eyes of a gazelle. At every moment they are "other", yet still remain "themselves". MP as "Dominique" translated by Chris Taylor.

http://www.yorktaylors.free-online.co... )


message 18: by Book Portrait (new)

Book Portrait | 44 comments Marcelita wrote: "My dream...to spend spring in Illiers. Bill Carter will be visiting soon, as he leads a Proust tour. http://www.poshnosh.com/tbtb/paris-pr..."

That is quite a comprehensive tour! I visited the Musée Jacquemart-André for the Fêtes Galantes exhibition not long ago and immediately thought of Proust when I entered the building. So easy to imagine Belle Epoque receptions and cigar-smoking in the little wing past the veranda full of plants... The Allée des Acacias in the Bois de Boulogne is a great idea (I need to go there!) as well as the Chalet des Iles and Lapérouse (never been there either!).


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Book Portrait | 44 comments Marcelita wrote: "Off to the ALBERTINE Bookstore..."

That soulds so wonderful. Isn't the Albertine bookstore brand new? I seem to remember something about that...

The photos of la comtesse are beautiful. I can't wait to see her wardrobe at Galliera...

I'm reading La Recherche in French. Might as well since it's my mother tongue. ;)


message 20: by Jacob (new)

Jacob (jacobvictorfisher) | 112 comments Book Portrait wrote: "Maybe also because the narrator's infatuations recall his admiration for works of art: all interiorised, detached from reality and not destined to become reality as the spell would be broken... Interior life seems to trump reality and satisfy our narrator much more than "real life"..."

Welcome Book Portrait. I'm so glad you've joined us. I find this way of looking at what we've read so far very enriching. There's a fragment of a sentence from this week's reading that hints at this very same idea. The narrator says this while explaining the change in his experience between his first and second attendance of a performance by La Berma: "My need to be able to contemplate closely the precious particles of reality glimpsed by my imagination..." (Penguin epub 41/632) If we let this color the entire story we've read so far then the narrative layers become much more coherent. It's more rich but also more complicated. I like the way you put it. The narrator is, in a sense, putting a spell on himself through a re-imagined reality in order to be immersed in his own inner life. It's hard not to ask 'why?' and I think satisfaction is a big part of it. I hope this will get more obvious and important as we read.


message 21: by Jacob (new)

Jacob (jacobvictorfisher) | 112 comments And thanks to both of you for the great resources. It'll probably be a few months before I have the time and opportunity to get more scholarly with my reading but it's good to have these resources available to me when I do. These are the kind of conversations that get me planning a trip to Proust's little corners of France.


message 22: by Marcelita (new)

Marcelita Swann | 74 comments Book Portrait wrote: "Marcelita wrote: "Off to the ALBERTINE Bookstore..."

That soulds so wonderful. Isn't the Albertine bookstore brand new? I seem to remember something about that...

The photos of la comtesse are be..."


Yes, it opened last year. http://albertine.com
The Marcel Proust Reading Room is a frequent stop, after I spin by the MET.
Many of their events were live-streamed (and now saved), so you can watch anytime. ;)
Alas, Antoine Compagnon's talk was not filmed.


message 23: by Book Portrait (new)

Book Portrait | 44 comments Simon wrote: "I guess you are fortunate that I won't bombard you with quotes for this volume, because i only have the german edition ;) "

Quel dommage! You know that the whole of La Recherche is available in French or in English online...

https://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/p/prou...

Just saying. ^.^


message 24: by Book Portrait (new)

Book Portrait | 44 comments Jacob wrote: "These are the kind of conversations that get me planning a trip to Proust's little corners of France..."

Excellent idea! The tour posted by Marcelita is a very good starting place... :)


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Book Portrait | 44 comments Marcelita wrote: "Alas, Antoine Compagnon's talk was not filmed. "

I am enamored with Antoine Compagnon. Did you know that he took part in a summer series called Un été avec Proust on the French public radio? It became a very successful book. I don't know if it's been translated into English. It should be!


message 26: by Book Portrait (last edited May 08, 2015 01:09AM) (new)

Book Portrait | 44 comments Sarah Bernhardt/La Berma in Phèdre (photographed by Nadar)


Berma’s arms, which the lines themselves, by the same dynamic force that made the words issue from her lips, seemed to raise on to her bosom like leaves disturbed by a gush of water; (...) those white veils themselves, which, tenuous and clinging, seemed to be of a living substance and to have been woven by the suffering, half-pagan, half-Jansenist, around which they drew close like a frail, shrinking chrysalis; (...)






A famous actress in the late 1800s, the "Divine Sarah" was a brilliant self-promoter at a time when the basis of celebrity was shifting from the political figure to the theatrical performer. Bernhardt pioneered the use of new technologies to disseminate her image: she was one of the most photographed women in the world, and the first major stage actress to star in films. She made several recordings of famous theatrical dialogues including a reading from Racine's Phèdre at Thomas Edison's home.

A recognizable figure, Bernhardt--often depicted in theatrical costume--endorsed commercial products. Contemporary with this cabinet card, her image appeared on cigarette cards, an early form of product promotion. Advertisements as well as collectable ephemera, cigarette cards like cabinet cards, reinforced Bernhardt's image in popular culture.


http://www.getty.edu/art/collection/o...

Here's the original 1902 recording by Edison (very rapid and reedy behind the crackling of the recording ) (1 min 38): http://fresques.ina.fr/en-scenes/fich...

A later & longer recording, somewhat easier to understand but just as dramatic (4 min): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hz2Va...


message 27: by Book Portrait (new)

Book Portrait | 44 comments This sentence made me laugh a little at Marcel's over-the-top prose, where instead of something like a simple "throwing him a glance from her diamond-bright eyes" he writes:

No one else aroused in me so much envy as he [the Marquis de Palancy], on account of his apparent familiarity with this box and the indifference with which he allowed the Princess to hold out to him her box of sweetmeats; throwing him, at the same time, a glance from her fine eyes, cut in a pair of diamonds which at such moments wit and friendliness seemed to liquefy, whereas, when they were at rest, reduced to their purely material beauty, to their mineral brilliance alone, if the least reflected flash disturbed them ever so slightly, they set the darkness ablaze with inhuman horizontal splendid fires.

and goes on and on and on. But it's Absolute Proust. ^^


message 28: by Book Portrait (last edited May 08, 2015 01:50AM) (new)

Book Portrait | 44 comments Jacob wrote: "The narrator is, in a sense, putting a spell on himself through a re-imagined reality in order to be immersed in his own inner life. It's hard not to ask 'why?' and I think satisfaction is a big part of it. I hope this will get more obvious and important as we read."

I think it just reflects the sensitivity of the narrator (and of Proust himself). It's the way he experiences the world, which probably ties in with the fact that he reads a lot and spends time on his own, reflecting on things...

Rereading these sections I was surprised that he actually started learning something from a previous experience. He's been repeating this approach so often (imagining whole impossible perfect people and places based on their names... Guermantes... Balbec...) that his finally figuring out that his desire is too great to not be disappointed is suprising... But he doesn't try to look into this deeper so he'll probably continue with his old ways... ^^

I discerned in the instability of its object the vanity of my effort, and at the same time its vastness, which I had not before noticed, like a neurasthenic whose exhaustion we double by pointing out to him that he is exhausted. In the meantime my musings gave a distinction to everything that had any connexion with them. And even in my most carnal desires, magnetised always in a certain direction, concentrated about a single dream, I might have recognised as their primary motive an idea, an idea for which I would have laid down my life, at the innermost core of which, as in my day dreams while I sat reading all afternoon in the garden at Combray, lay the thought of perfection.

and later:

... it was when I admired too keenly not to be disappointed by the object of my admiration, whether that object were Gilberte or Berma, that I demanded in advance, of the impression to be received on the morrow, the pleasure that yesterday’s impression had refused to afford me.

And in this passage:

It had just occurred to me that if I had not derived any pleasure from my first hearing of Berma, it was because, as earlier still when I used to meet Gilberte in the Champs-Elysées, I had come to her with too strong a desire.

He goes on to think that a great work of art will necessarily disappoint at first because the mind is not used to handling such genius, such beauty and has to get over its preconceived ideas...

We feel in one world, we think, we give names to things in another; between the two we can establish a certain correspondence, but not bridge the interval.


The turns of phrases he uses to compare his imagination and himself are delightful: he says that his imagination is like "un orgue de Barbarie détraqué" (a barrel organ out of order) and that he's like "une pile qui développe son électricité" (a battery that accumulates and stores up electricity).


message 29: by Marcelita (last edited May 08, 2015 01:46PM) (new)

Marcelita Swann | 74 comments Marcelita wrote: "Alas, Antoine Compagnon's talk was not filmed. "

I am enamored with Antoine Compagnon. Did you know that he took part in a summer series called Un été avec Proust on the French public radio? It became a very successful book. I don't know if it's been translated into English. It should be!

Yes, French radio:
http://www.franceinter.fr/emission-un...

I saw AC at ALBERTINE and bought "Un été avec Proust," still only in French.
http://albertine.com/events/on-proust...


message 30: by Book Portrait (new)

Book Portrait | 44 comments Marcelita wrote: "I saw AC at ALBERTINE and..."

*swoons*

;)


message 31: by Jacob (new)

Jacob (jacobvictorfisher) | 112 comments After a month, I'm finally returning to these earlier sections of the volume to mention some of the quotes that most interest me and responds to some of your comments.

I always have an interest in foreshadowing, especially in this novel where memory and hindsight seem so important (or perhaps they're just important themes to me).
I was only to understand much later, when it was repeated more painfully, as the final volumes of this work will show, by a person who was much dearer to me (Penguin epub, 71/632)

I can't help but find it interesting for the narrator (and the author) to look so specifically toward the last volume of his work. He rarely takes us so abruptly out of the present moment. Usually he moves fluidly into the past and back to his (the narrator's) present but in this case he throws us forcefully into our future as readers. It just struck me as odd. I suppose this volume was published a year before Proust's death the later volumes were close to what we have now so Proust was very aware of all that was happening later in the novel. This is one of the most overt examples of him teasing us with something in the future. In response we wonder: who becomes so dear to him, and what was it that caused him so much pain? There's little tension in this novel in the typical mode of plot and expectation but this is one rare example.


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