Day One Hundred Thirteen: Sodom and Gomorrah, pp. 180-192

Part II, Chapter II, from "In my fear that the pleasure found..." to " all events be with me before 1 a.m."
The dazzling sight of the apple trees in blossom seems to mark a turning point for the narrator, who notes that "my grief at my grandmother's death was diminishing." There is a concomitant change: "Albertine was beginning, meanwhile, to fill me with something like a desire for happiness." The parallel he uses for this experience is, however, somewhat bathetic: "Are married couples not soon to be found once again intertwined, in the very bedroom where they have lost a child, in order to give the dead little one a brother?"

When he sets out by train to see Albertine, and to invite her on a visit to Mme. de Cambremer and Mme. Verdurin, he is suddenly visited by the specter of his grandmother.
what could I have done with Rosemonde when across the whole of my lips there was passing only a desperate desire to kiss a dead woman? What could I have said to the Cambremers and the Verdurins when my heart was pounding because the sorrow that my grandmother had endured was constantly re-forming there? I could not remain in that carriage.
(Sturrock's note informs us that "Rosemonde" in this passage is "a slip of the pen for Albertine." Knowing of Proust's admiration for George Eliot, I wonder if he may have had in mind Rosamond Vincy, who became the destructive obsession of Lydgate in Middlemarch.)

He gets off the train in Maineville-la-Teinturière, where he notes the presence there of "an establishment to which we shall be returning, ... the first brothel for the smart set that anyone had thought to build on the coasts of France." But he doesn't stop there now. Returning to the hotel, he sends Françoise to fetch Albertine for him. And once again he foreshadows for us: "I think I would be lying if I said that the painful and perpetual mistrust that Albertine was to inspire in me had already begun, let alone the particular, above all Gomorran, character which that mistrust was to assume." This time, however, Albertine's arrival "dispelled my happiness," although he is forced once again to suffer a warning from Françoise: "Monsieur shouldn't see that young lady. I can easily tell the sort of character she has; she'll cause you unhappiness." 

But foreshadowing is about all this section does. The remainder of it is taken up with observations about life in the hotel and the character of the "lift," the elevator operator who also figured in the previous visit to Balbec.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Rosemonde is one of the 'little band' that the narrator obsesses over, friends with Andree, Gisele and Albertine.