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Lost Time Thursday: Bad Romance

For, with a girl as pretty as Albertine, was it possible that Mlle Vinteuil, having the desires she had, had not asked her to gratify them? And the proof that Albertine had not been shocked by the request, but had consented, was that they had not quarrelled, that indeed their intimacy had steadily increased.

Sodom and Gomorrah ends with Little M. once again convinced (after a brief reprieve after she "reassured" him by flirting with Saint-Loup) that Albertine is having lesbian affairs every second his back is turned. The reasoning behind this conviction is shaky at best, and his conclusion is no better: since every moment in which Albertine is out of his sight is a Schrodinger's orgy, the only possible thing for him to do is marry Albertine and follow her around every hour of every day. In this way, he reasons, he would save Albertine from "vice" and himself from jealousy. This does not strike me as the most obvious solution, or the best, even if we granted the premise, but "how to deal with jealousy in a healthy and reasonable way" is not one of the multitudes contained by In Search of Lost Time.

The next volume is called The Captive. With this we're jumping the tracks to an earlier, less well-regarded translation. This is because it was the only one available at the library, but I'm also now curious to read it. I learned, a couple of weeks ago, that Lost Time used to be on the high school reading curriculum in California (and possibly elsewhere in the US) in the 1960s. This surprised me because I would not have expected something with this much gay content to be considered school-appropriate fifty years ago, but 1) maybe high school students were expected to be more mature in 1960, 2) maybe it was too long and confusing for angry parents to skim effectively, and 3) possibly the earlier translation was less explicit, though it's hard to imagine how that was accomplished without making huge chunks of the book incomprehensible. So I guess we'll find out!


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 22nd, 2016 05:42 pm (UTC)
Dec. 23rd, 2016 01:19 am (UTC)
Has Little M gotten Albertine on board with this marriage plan? Or is he just distracting himself from Shrodinger's orgy by thinking about how different things will be once they're married and they can be together every minute of every day?

Did the high schoolers read all of Lost Time, or just the first volume? If they didn't get to Sodom and Gomorrah maybe the book wouldn't need to be pruned too severely to be 1960s school-appropriate.
Dec. 23rd, 2016 01:31 am (UTC)
Ambiguous. He's been laying the groundwork by telling her all about his (fake) plans to marry a made-up person and how they fell through and broke his heart into a million equally emo pieces, but it's for the best because who would ever want to live with a sickly, troublesome loser like him? This is an obvious ploy to get Albertine to say she would totally love to live with him, but obvious ploys are obvious because they work. The book ends with him announcing to his mother that he's changed his mind and absolutely must marry Albertine after all.

He's kidding himself if he thinks this plan is going to dispel Schrodinger's orgy in any way, though. Every time she goes to the toilet he's going to imagine women crawling in through the little frosted windows, hanging upside-down to poke their tongues into her mouth and nip her earlobes before slinking away into the night, just to prove they can. He'll brick up the windows and start checking under the bed every morning and evening, in the chests they keep extra sheets and blankets in. He'll open every drawer in the chiffarobe and then go back over them again in a different order. Women are small! They could be anywhere!

According to the guy who told me about High School Proust, it was the whole thing straight through. But it was a long time ago, so maybe it's possible they just read Swann's Way and it felt like the longest novel in existence. I'd have to see some actual curriculum materials! Or just get a second opinion or two.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )


blase ev

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