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Lost Time Thursday: Fresh Defects

This week in Lost Time: Little M. goes to a party, the Guermantes are glib about the Dreyfusards and Swann's poor health, M. de Charlus takes an opportunity to be offensive, and M. has a talk with Swann. He goes home early to keep an appointment with Albertine, but she hasn't called.

As much perhaps as Albertine herself, who still did not come, her presence at the moment in an "elsewhere" which she evidently found more agreeable, and of which I knew nothing, gave me a painful feeling which, in spite of what I had said to Swann scarcely an hour before as to my incapacity for being jealous, might, if I had seen her at less protracted intervals, have changed into an anxious need to know where, and with whom, she was spending her time. I dared not send round to Albertine's house, as it was too late, but in the hope that, having supper perhaps with some other girls in a cafe, she might take it into her head to telephone me, I turned the switch and, restoring the connection to my own room, cut it off between the post office and the porter's lodge, to which it was generally switched at that hour. A receiver in the little passage on to which Francoise's room opened would have been simpler, less inconvenient, but useless. The advance of civilization enables people to display unsuspected qualities or fresh defects which make them dearer or more insupportable to their friends. Thus Bell's invention had enabled Francoise to acquire an additional defect, which was that of refusing, however important, however urgent the occasion might be, to make use of the telephone. She would manage to disappear whenever anybody tried to teach her how to use it, as people disappear when it is time for them to be vaccinated. And so the telephone was installed in my bedroom, and, so that it might not disturb my parents, a whirring noise had been substituted for the bell. I did not move, for fear of not hearing it.

Little M. gives Albertine the book cover Gilberte made for him. "One would be cured forever of romanticism," he says, "if one could make up one's mind, in thinking of the woman one loves, to try to be the man one will be when one no longer loves her." Well, sure, if that's what you want. But there's no way to get there until you're there; that's one of the choruses of this book. Little M. and Albertine bicker and manipulate, she comes by very late and earns the scorn of Francoise; later he resolves to write to Gilberte because he promised Swann he would.

It was without emotion, and as though finishing off a boring school essay, that I traced upon the envelope the name Gilberte Swann with which at the time I used to cover my exercise-books to give myself the illusion that I was corresponding with her.

AND. Saint-Loup is back, only now he's all cynical because he's given up on Rachel. He doesn't even want to talk excitedly about Stendhal anymore, because that's Rachel stuff. All he wants to talk about is a bunch of brothels and how love is a lie. I miss the old Saint-Loup.


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 29th, 2016 12:27 pm (UTC)
Little M. has replaced Gilberte with a new goddess of his heart? LITTLE M. In a way I suppose it's a good sign that he can at least switch obsessions occasionally, but all the same I feel oddly offended for Gilberte's sake. How dare he give away the book cover she made him!

Although if she answers his letter, I suspect that he will go into raptures over her signature and start the whole thing over again and then obsess about both of them at once. I'm not sure how he'll survive that much obsessing.
Sep. 29th, 2016 01:23 pm (UTC)
I also had a moment of "no!" when he gave away the book cover. Falling out of love is just something that happens, especially to Little M., but the book cover was a gift! (and now it's someone else's gift).

We'll see! He's certainly protesting a lot about how much he doesn't care.
Sep. 29th, 2016 11:49 pm (UTC)
Sep. 30th, 2016 01:40 pm (UTC)
In Search of Lost Terrier.
Sep. 30th, 2016 07:04 pm (UTC)
A telephone!? Somehow I never realized that telephones and Proust existed simultaneously.
Sep. 30th, 2016 11:18 pm (UTC)
Proust and the telephone were made for each other! Or at least the invention of telephone is an opportunity to talk about the weirdness of time and memory (but then, what isn't?) You talk to someone on the phone, you're occupying the same time but not the same space; they're with you but not with you, as if you're already remembering them.

There's an earlier long section - I think in Guermantes - where he tries to call his grandmother on the telephone for the first time. Failure is strange (he accidentally gets a call from someone else's grandmother); success is even stranger. I thought I'd posted part of it, but it looks like not.

I laughed so hard at that line about the advances of civilization enabling people to display new virtues and defects, because it's just going to go on being true: wit that's built to last.
Oct. 2nd, 2016 08:14 pm (UTC)
I laughed so hard at that line about the advances of civilization enabling people to display new virtues and defects, because it's just going to go on being true: wit that's built to last.

So did I! There's something so charming about how technology keeps on changing, while humans' reactions to it keep on staying the same.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )


blase ev

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