Day One Hundred Thirty-Seven: The Prisoner, pp. 67-82

From "That was how I answered her; among the expressions of carnality..." to "...and plans for further, ardent lovers' meetings."
The narrator claims that he is "slowly coming to resemble all my relatives," including, in his reclusiveness and insistence on spending the day in bed, his Aunt Léonie. "Thus, all my past since my earliest years, and beyond those, my relatives' past, mixed into my carnal love for Albertine the sweetness of a love both filial and maternal." But the carnal seems to predominate, especially in his description of Albertine naked, in which he notes "the place which, in men, is made ugly by something like the metal pin left sticking out of a statue when it is removed from its mould." That particular bit of observation isn't ascribed to any of his relatives, and one wonders how many heterosexual men would describe the absence of a penis quite that way.

Their playfulness in bed is characterized as "happy, cheerful moments, innocent in appearance but hiding the growing possibility of disaster: this is what makes the life of lovers the most unpredictable of all, a life in which it can rain sulphur and pitch a moment after the sunniest spell and where, without having the courage to learn from our misfortunes, we immediately start building again on the slopes of the crater which can only spew catastrophe." For catastrophe has loomed for their relationship since its beginning. He recalls the last visit to Balbec, when Aimé reported to him that she was in town and "was looking 'not quite the thing,'" a phrase whose ambiguity led him to imagine that "perhaps he meant a lesbian look" -- whatever that might be. It sent his imagination into overdrive in any case.

For the narrator, "love is an incurable ailment," marked by a jealousy that can strike at any moment, including "after the event, which arises only after we have left the person in question, a 'staircase jealousy' like staircase wit." He reflects that "modern Gomorrah is a jigsaw puzzle made up of pieces from the most unlikely places." And that "Jealousy is often nothing but an uneasy desire for domination, applied in the context of love."
Most often love has for its object a body only if an emotion, the fear of losing the loved object, the uncertainty of finding it again, are fused with that body.... Had not I recognized in Albertine one of those girls under whose fleshly covering there palpitate more hidden beings, not just than in a deck of cards still in its box, in a locked cathedral or a theatre before the doors open, but in the whole vast, ever-changing crowd?

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