Day One Hundred Thirty-Nine: The Prisoner, pp. 102-117

From "The morning after the evening when Albertine..." to "...peace of mind, or the peace of the heart?"
Proust returns to one of his favorite topics, the interface between sleeping and waking, as the narrator arises in the morning to the musical sounds of street-seller crying their wares. "I had never enjoyed them so much as I did now that Albertine was living with me. They seemed to me the joyous signal of her awakening and, by involving me in the life outside, made me more conscious of the calming power of a dear presence, now as constant as I could wish." It helps, of course, that "she had given up her idea of going to the Verdurins' and would be going instead, as I had suggested to the 'special' matinée at the Trocadéro." First, however, she is going riding with Andrée, and we have a bit of foreshadowing as he warns her "no gymnastics" and tells her how dreadful it would be if she had an accident. On the other hand, he also reflects "how wonderful if, once on horseback, she had ridden off into the blue yonder, liked it there, and never come home! How much simpler it would have been if she could have gone and been happy somewhere else."

As for his thoughts on the waking state, he comments that "the waking world still enjoys the superiority of being able to be continued every morning, unlike dreams which are different every night. But perhaps there are other worlds more real than the waking world. For have we not seen how the 'real world' is transformed by every revolution in the arts, and without waiting for that, by the degree of aptitude or cultivation which distinguishes and artist from an ignorant fool?" He subscribes to the notion of modernists that the dream state provides the artistically inclined with a privileged insight into reality. Before habit and memory set in, "One often has at hand, in those first minutes when one is letting oneself slip towards awakening, a range of different realities from which one thinks one can choose, like taking a card from a pack." But he recalls a failed effort to remain in a dream state and concludes that "We constantly have to choose between health and wisdom on the one hand, and spiritual pleasures on the other. I have always been too much of a coward to choose the second."

Albertine is delighted by the street-sellers, and wants to buy everything they offer, from winkles to carrots. She imagines the various foods, and her thoughts turn to the elaborate ice creations made in Paris at the time, until the narrator is put on edge by the sensuality of her descriptions, particularly of "the physical sensation of imagining something so delicious, so cool in her mouth, which gave her an almost sexual pleasure." He is further disturbed when her recollections turn to her stay "at Mlle Vinteuil's, at Montjouvain," where they would "sit in the garden and travel all round France by drinking a different sparkling mineral water every day." He tries to take her mind off of Mlle. Vinteuil -- or rather his mind off of what they might have done together, and thinks again of the choice between living with Albertine or separating from her: "which sort of peace should one put first (either by continuing one's daily, exhausting activity, or by resuming the pain of separation) -- peace of mind, or the peace of the heart?"

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