Chapter II: Mademoiselle de Forcheville, from "A month later, Swann's young daughter...." to "...the snobbery of royalty with that of a domestic servant."
_____Gilberte was still Mlle. Swann when the Duc and Duchesse de Guermantes first deigned to receive her, and they treated her with a certain condescension, pretending to have been barely acquainted with Swann, even though they had received him for more than 25 years. "But this is how the Faubourg Saint-Germain speaks to the bourgeoisie about anyone from the bourgeoisie, whether to flatter their listeners with the exception made in their favour for as long as the conversation lasts, or whether, preferably, to humiliate them at one and the same time." But after Forcheville adopts her, it is Gilberte herself who shies away from being identified as Swann's daughter.
Visiting the Guermantes when Gilberte is there, the narrator notices that two of the Elstir drawings that once were upstairs are now in the drawing room -- "Elstir was now in fashion." Gilberte, too, recognizes them as Elstirs, and the Duchesse has to bite her tongue when she almost slips and says that Swann was the one who recommended that she buy them: "it was precisely your ... some friends of ours who advised us to buy them." And when the narrator starts to say something about their once not being on display, "I saw Mme de Guermantes's frantic signals" and likewise covers the slip.
When he casually works his article in the Figaro into the conversation, he learns that neither the Duchesse nor the Duc has read it. The latter sends a servant to fetch the newspaper and reads it while he's there. Meanwhile, the Duchesse receives a visiting card from Lady Rufus Israels, whom Gilberte denies knowing, even though she does: "The fact is that Gilberte had become quite snobbish," even to the point of sometimes pretending that Swann was not really her father.
Gilberte belonged, or at least had belonged during those years, to the most frequently encountered species of human ostrich, those who bury their heads in the hope, not of not being seen, which they believe to be implausible, but of not seeing themselves being seen, which seems important enough to them and allows them to leave the rest to chance.The Duc finishes the article and offers "some rather muted compliments," criticizing "the somewhat hackneyed form of my style" but congratulating him on "having found an 'occupation.'" The Duchesse invites him to join her at the opera, but he turns her down, saying that he has recently lost a friend who "was very dear to me.... It was from that moment that I started to write to everyone to tell them of my great sorrow and to cease to feel it."
The Duc and Duchesse aren't the only ones who, contrary to the narrator's hopes, failed to see the article. In fact, he receives only two letters about it: One is from Mme. Goupil, an old neighbor in Combray, and the other from someone named Sautton, a name he doesn't recognize. "Bloch, whose opinion on my article I would have so liked to know, did not write to me," but later reveals in a rather snide fashion that he had read it. "Bergotte had not written me a word," the narrator says, but that shouldn't be surprising since Proust killed him off in The Prisoner -- another continuity gaffe.
The narrator's thoughts turn to Swann, who would have been happy to see Gilberte received by the Guermantes, but disappointed at her failure to acknowledge him as her real father. "And it was not only where Swann was concerned that Gilberte gradually consummated the process of forgetting: she had hastened this process within me in relation to Albertine.
I no longer loved Albertine. At most there were occasional days which brought the kind of weather that, modifying and stimulating our sensitivity, restores our contact with reality, making me feel bitterly sad when I thought of her. I suffered from a love that no longer existed. Thus when the weather changes do amputees feel pain in the leg they have lost.Albertine's death causes a form of phantom pain, but the narrator takes his ability to mention her death at all "without actually suffering much" as a sign that he's a "new person who would be quite able to live without Albertine."
Meanwhile, he and Andrée have begun "a semi-carnal relationship" -- whatever that may be. He recalls that they were in his room because "I was banned from the rest of the apartment since it was Mama's at-home day." Here there's a curious aside about his mother's visiting Mme. Sazerat and being bored to death, which spurs another memory about his mother being snubbed by the Princess of Parma. The significance of these asides, if any, is unclear. But as he is going to see Andrée, who is waiting in his room, he discovers that he has other visitors, who were waiting in another room: It's Charlus, who is reciting love poems to Morel, who is leaving for his duty in the reserves. "I left them as swiftly as I could, although I felt that to call on friends with Morel gave M. de Charlus great satisfaction, giving him the momentary illusion of being married again." Evidently, Mme. Verdurin's separation of them hasn't fully taken hold.