Part II, Chapter I, from "Reassured as to her fear of having to talk with Swann..." to "...his religious respect for women's virtue."
The narrator glides through the party like a scuba diver through a school of beautiful and outlandish fish. Now he hears two different explanations of the scene between Swann and the Prince de Guermantes. M. de Bréauté asserts that Bergotte wrote a play that was staged at Swann's and lampooned the Prince. But Col. de Froberville insists that the Prince was outraged by Swann's continuing to hold Dreyfusard views. The Duc himself is angered that Swann, "a discerning gourmet, a positive mind, a collector, a lover of old books, a member of the Jockey Club, a man highly respected on all sides, a connoisseur of good addresses who used to send us the best port you can drink, a dilettante, a family man" should display such "ingratitude" as to continue to support Dreyfus.
The narrator points out that Prince Von is also a Dreyfusard, which the Duc dismisses because "he's a foreigner. I don't care two hoots. With a Frenchman, it's another matter. It's true, Swann is a Jew. But until today ... I had been weak-minded enough to believe that a Jew can be a Frenchman, an honorable Jew, I mean, a man of the world."
The narrator tells the Duchesse he wants to go talk to Swann, if he's still at the soirée. She replies that she isn't eager to see him because "I was told a short while ago at Mme de Saint-Euverte's, that he would like, before he dies, for me to make the acquaintance of his wife and daughter." She's not willing to honor the request, saying she hopes "that it's not as serious as all that," and "There wouldn't be salons any more if one was obliged to make the acquaintance of all the dying."
Finally, the Duchesse and the narrator go their separate ways, and he heads for the smoking room to see if Swann is there. On the way he notices "two young men whose great but dissimilar beauty had its origins in the same woman. These were the two sons of Mme de Surgis, the Duc de Guermantes's new mistress." He is detained by the Marquise de Citri, who affects a posture of boredom with everything, and by the time he frees himself from her he sees Charlus eying one of the sons of Mme. de Surgis. Charlus blushes when he finds the narrator looking at him. "Once M. de Charlus had learned from me that they were brothers, his face could not disguise the admiration inspired in him by a family capable of creating such splendid yet such different masterpieces."
Swann enters the room, his face showing signs of his illness. "Swann's Punchinello nose, for so long reabsorbed into a pleasing face, now seemed enormous, tumid, crimson, more that of an old Hebrew." But when he starts to cross the room to talk to Swann, he is interrupted by Saint-Loup, in town for forty-eight hours. Saint-Loup wants to avoid Charlus for fear of a lecture from his uncle:
"I find it comic that my family council,which has always come down so hard on me, should be made up of those very family members who've lived it up the most, starting with the most dissipated of the lot, my uncle Charlus, who's my surrogate tutor, who's had as many women as Don Juan, and who even at his age doesn't let up."
The narrator, who now knows more about the nature of Charlus's "dissipations" than Saint-Loup does, skirts the issue. "'But are you sure M. de Charlus has had so many mistresses?' I asked, certainly not with the diabolical intention of revealing to Robert the secret I had chanced upon, but irritated nonetheless by hearing him maintain an error with so much assurance and self-satisfaction." Saint-Loup shrugs off his friend's apparent naïveté and turns his attention to the narrator's sex life, proposing to set him up with "that tall blonde, Mme Putbus's lady's maid. She likes women, too, but I imagine you don't mind that." The narrator observes that "Robert's love of Letters had not gone very deep, it did not emanate from his true nature, it was only a by-product of his love for Rachel, and had been erased along with it, at the same time as his abhorrence of voluptuaries and his religious respect for women's virtue."