Day Sixty-Six: In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower, pp. 480-496

From "Whereas before my visits to Elstir's..." to "...those required of a tuner or a singing teacher as of a draftsman.'"

The narrator's association with the gang of girls gives him new insights into the class they belong to, including their anti-Semitism. 
We would often encounter Bloch's sisters; and since I had dined at their father's table, I was obliged to greet them. My new friends did not know them. "I'm not allowed to be friends with children of Israel," Albertine said.... [T]he chosen people did not inspire warm feelings in the bosoms of these daughters of the middle class, who, with their good Catholic upbringing, probably believed that Jews fed on the flesh of infant Christians.... The fact was that Bloch's sisters, overdressed but half-naked, managing to look both languid and brazen, resplendent and sluttish, did not create the best of impressions. 
Being surrounded by young girls in flower has not driven Gilberte from his mind. On his picnics with the girls, he has a Proustian moment or two: "In cakes, there was a cloying creaminess, and in tarts, a refreshing fruitiness, which were aware of many things about Combray and about Gilberte, and not just the Gilberte of Combray days, but the Gilberte of Paris too, for I had renewed my acquaintance with them at her afternoon teas." 

But his obsession with the gang of girls has begun to strain his friendship with Saint-Loup, who has written to say that since the narrator hasn't visited him at Doncières, he has requested leave to visit him at Balbec. But the narrator puts him off with excuses, preferring to stay with the girls. "Those who have the opportunity to live for themselves --- they are artists, of course, and I was long since convinced that I would never be one -- also have the duty to do so; and for them, friendship is a dereliction of that duty, a form of self-abdication."

He loves to listen to the girls' chatter, and to identify the various regional accents that tinge their speech. He is aware of the banality of their talk, but he luxuriates in it nonetheless. 
With Mme de Villeparisis or Saint-Loup, my words would have made a show of much more enjoyment than I really felt, concealing the fact that they always wore me out; whereas, when I lay among those girls, the full cup of my joy, unaffected by the insignificance and sparseness of what we said, brimming in motionless silence, overflowed and let the murmuring wavelets of my happiness lap and ripple among these young roses. 
He has not yet made his choice from among them, but one day Albertine borrows some paper and pencil from the others and writes a note to him, forbidding the others to read it: "I like you." It makes him start "thinking she was the one who would be the great love of my life."

1 comment:

RkC said...

Charles... Look what I found at the Database of Games (jeu du furet or hunt-the-slipper).
The Enright edition mentions these names in footnote 14, p. 734. Sounds kind of like your string thing!
Renee @ Reading Proust for Fun.