_____Entering the Verdurins', they are joined by Saniette, who brings word that the Princess Sherbatoff has just died. As usual, M. Verdurin treats Saniette brutally, making him wait in the drafty vestibule while others have their coats checked, just because Saniette has been affecting an archaic manner of speaking. When the others offer condolences on the Princess's death, Verdurin insists that she is just very ill, and in response to Saniette's insistence that she had died at six o'clock: "'You're always exaggerating,' said M. Verdurin brutally, for, the party not having been put off, he preferred to stick to the story of illness."
Tension has arisen between Charlus and Mme. Verdurin, partly because of Morel and "the ridiculous and distasteful part which M. de Charlus was making him play." She still relies on Charlus to supply Morel for concerts, and she resents the fact that he continues to hold sway over the invitation list. Charlus
at the first mention of names that Mme Verdurin put forward as possible guests, pronounced the most categorical sentence of exclusion, in a peremptory tone in which the vindictive pride of the testy great noble mingled with the dogmatism of the expert party organizer who would take off his play and refuse his collaboration sooner than descend to concessions which, according to him, would spoil the overall effect.But Mme. Verdurin has risen in social stature thanks to her support of artists, and as a consequence is able to challenge Charlus's authority. Charlus's propensity to quarrel with people means that certain people were excluded from Mme. Verdurin's only because of his whim. "Now these outcasts were often people at the top of the tree, as they say, but who in M. de Charlus's eyes had fallen from that position as soon as they fell out with him." One of these victims of Charlus was the Countess Molé, whom Mme. Verdurin wanted to welcome to her circle. And Charlus's lofty idea of aristocracy, to which he was entitled as a Guermantes, meant that he snubbed "some of the smartest people whose presence would have made Mme Verdurin's salon one of the foremost in Paris.
The Dreyfus affair also continues to have its effect on society:
Because they were nationalists, the ladies of the Faubourg Saint-Germain fell into the habit of receiving ladies of another social milieu; when nationalism disappeared, the habit persisted. Mme Verdurin, thanks to Dreyfusism, had attracted to her salon some good writers who at that time were no value to her social schemes because they were Dreyfusards. But political passions, like other passions, wane. New generations spring up who no longer understand them, even the generation which first felt them changes, experiences new political passions which, as they do not correspond exactly to the earlier ones, rehabilitate a certain proportion of the excluded, the reasons for their exclusion having altered.During the Dreyfus affair, then, Mme. Verdurin, by gathering Dreyfusard artists to her salon, built the foundation of her post-affair success: "The Dreyfus Affair has passed, she still had Anatole France."
Mme. Verdurin is now credited with a genuine interest in the arts, and she has become a chief patron of the Russian ballet, being seen by the crowd at the Opéra "in a grand circle box, ... flanking the Princess Yourbeletieff." Her suppers,
jointly presided over by Princess Yourbeletieff and the Patronne, brought together the dancers who had not yet eaten, so as to be able to jump even higher, their director, the scene-painters, the great composers Igor Stravinsky and Richard Strauss, an unchanging inner circle around which ... the greatest ladies in Paris and foreign Highnesses did not disdain to go ... to observe close at hand these great men who were revolutionizing taste in the theatre and who, in an art perhaps somewhat more artificial than painting, had produced a renewal as radical as Impressionism.So Charlus is beginning to lose his usefulness to Mme. Verdurin, "and one day soon the two halves of society that M. de Charlus wanted to keep apart would be brought together, at the cost, of course, of not inviting him that evening."