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Lost Time Thursday: A Misuse of the Term

One curious thing was that nobody had ever before heard the Duc de Guermantes make use of the quite commonplace expression "out and out," but ever since the Jockey election, whenever anybody referred to the Dreyfus case, pat would come "out and out." "Dreyfus case, Dreyfus case, that's soon said, and it's a misuse of the term. It's not a question of religious, it's out and out a political matter." Five years might go by without your hearing him say "out and out" again, if during that time nobody mentioned the Dreyfus case, but if at the end of five years, the name Dreyfus cropped up, "out and out" would at once follow automatically. The Duke could not, anyhow, bear to hear any mention of the case, "which has been responsible," he would say, "for so many disasters," albeit he was really conscious of one and one only; his own failure to become president of the Jockey.

C. K. Scott Moncrieff's original translation is not nearly as good as the Nouveau Moncrieff - stiffer, less fluid and funny, and noticeably more coy about the nature of M. de Charlus' affairs and Albertine's (alleged?) "vice" - though still not nearly ambiguous enough to make its presence in 1960s US high schools unsurprising. Luckily, Proust is still Proust, and this less-adept translation still makes me laugh out loud on a regular basis.

I haven't had the chance to investigate the claim about reading all of Lost Time in high school as part of the regular literature curriculum - that is, I've asked a couple of people who didn't know what I was talking about if they remembered reading Proust in high school, but they were high school students in the Southeast, not California.

ALSO:

As soon as she was able to speak she said, "My _________," or "My dearest ________," followed by my Christian name, which, if we give the narrator the same name as the author of this book, would be "My Marcel," or "My dearest Marcel."

What do you mean, "if"? JUST GIVE THE POOR GUY A NAME, why is it so hard? I mean, I get it: Little M. isn't exactly Proust, but he isn't exactly not Proust either. But most people manage to just slap on a thin veil and deal with it, Marcel. :|

Anyway, Little M. has invited Albertine to live with him in his parent's house, so that he can keep an eye on her at night and prevent her from being an insatiable lesbian. This is a bad plan which will not work (I can tell from the title of the next volume) and would not be conductive to anyone's happiness if it did. All is not well.

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
a_phoenixdragon
Dec. 29th, 2016 07:48 pm (UTC)
Little M is lost in being Little M and cannot Name right now. I mean...names are HARD. Have a heart, lovie!

*CACKLES*
evelyn_b
Dec. 30th, 2016 01:32 pm (UTC)
Names are hard! I respect Proust for not allowing any artificially decisive answers about who the narrator is, or how exactly he relates to the author. . . but it's still funny, you know? "Let's just call me 'Marcel,' provisionally, just for a paragraph. OK STOP, WE'RE BACK TO BLANKS NOW, NO MARCELS HERE."

Edited at 2016-12-30 01:35 pm (UTC)
osprey_archer
Dec. 30th, 2016 12:47 am (UTC)
Has Albertine agreed to this terrible plan? RUN, ALBERTINE. RUN WHILE YOU STILL CAN.
evelyn_b
Dec. 30th, 2016 01:24 pm (UTC)
Don't worry too much! Albertine is like a bird, she'll only fly away. She doesn't know where her soul is (soul is); she doesn't know where her home is.

It seemed like an ok idea at first because Little M. is from a "good family" and it looked like moving into his parent's house was the prelude to a "good marriage," besides which he was giving her a lot of clothes and things, but then Francoise was hostile to her and M. got (well, continued to be) SUPER WEIRD about interrogating her every move, and is the marriage ever actually going to take place? answer unclear, ask again later. She told a lot of lies, but I can't say that I blame her? No one likes to feel like they're being watched all the time, even if they're not doing anything wrong.

Edited at 2016-12-30 01:34 pm (UTC)
chez_jae
Jan. 3rd, 2017 11:16 pm (UTC)
...prevent her from being an insatiable lesbian

That gave me a giggle!
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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