Day One Hundred Forty-One: The Prisoner, pp. 136-151

From "First, I had to be certain that Léa really was appearing..." to "...We arrived at the Bois."
The narrator cooks up a reason to ask Albertine to leave the theater and come home, and sends Françoise on the errand. He admits that Françoise doesn't know that "Albertine's relationship to me was not of her seeking but mine (a fact that I preferred to hide from Françoise out of self-regard, and also to irritate her all the more)." Françoise succeeds in her mission, and they telephone to say Albertine will be home at three o'clock. He is jubilant, without a trace of guilt at having torn her away from the theater, even though he now knows that Albertine "had not gone to the Trocadéro to meet Léa's friends." The successful ruse reveals "that she belonged to me, even for the future, much more completely than I had realized."
I now had a woman of my own who, at one, unexpected word from me, would send a telephone message to say that she was coming straight back, was letting herself be brought back, immediately. I was more of a master than I had thought. More of a master, that is to say, more of a slave.
Which of the two, master or slave, he really is, remains to be seen.

(Incidentally, in the note Albertine sends to him via a courier, she addresses him as "Dear darling Marcel" and exclaims "Oh, Marcel, Marcel!" But I'll stick to "the narrator" for now.)

As he waits for her arrival, he plays music, starting with the sonata by Vinteuil, in which he identifies both a "sexual pleasure motif" and an "anxiety motif." The music carries him back "on the wave of sound towards the old days in Combray" and "the walks towards Guermantes" on which he decided he was going to be an artist: "Having in practice abandoned this ambition, had I given up something real? Could life make up to me for the loss of art, or was there in art a deeper reality where our true personality finds an expression that the actions of life cannot give it?" He switches to Wagner and muses on "that incompleteness which characterizes all the great works of the nineteenth century; the nineteenth century, whose greatest writers failed in their books, but, watching themselves at work as if they were both worker and judge, drew from this self-contemplation a new beauty, separate from and superior to their work, conferring on it retrospectively a unity, a grandeur which it does not have in reality."

He also notes that Wagner's phrases "soar ... freely above the earth, like ... the aeroplane I had seen at Balbec turning its energy into elevation, gliding above the waves and disappearing into the sky." He notes also that "however high one soars, one's appreciation of the silence of space is somewhat impeded by the powerful rumble of the engine!" I know that Proust bought Agostinelli an airplane, but did he ever go up on one himself?

As time draws near for Albertine's return, he goes to the courtyard and waits for her, overhearing Morel berating "the girl I imagined he was soon to marry" -- presumably a reference to Jupien's niece, although Proust curiously doesn't specify her." The scene dispels some of his happiness: "despite the blessed calm which I felt at the thought that Albertine, instead of staying at the Trocadéro, was coming home to me, my ears were still full of the sound of those constantly repeated words, 'great slut, great slut,' which had so upset me."

Albertine finally arrives and they set out by car to the Bois.

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