Day One Hundred Seventy-One: Finding Time Again, pp. 85-108

From "The war seemed to be continuing indefinitely. ..." through "... And he began to roar with laughter as if we had been alone in a drawing-room."
As the narrator and Charlus stroll along the boulevard, the latter holds forth on the war, though with occasional asides on other topics, such as his estrangement from Morel. "The boy is mad about women, and never thinks about anything else," Charlus says, which the narrator has reason to doubt, "having with my own eyes seen Morel agree to spend a night with the Prince de Guermantes for fifty francs." But he has also known men who were once willing to yield to such enticements give them up out of "religious scruples," fear of exposure "when certain scandals broke, or by a fear of non-existent diseases in which they had been made to believe.... Thus it was that the former lift-boy at Balbec would no longer have accepted, for love or money, propositions which now seemed to him as dangerous as approaches from the enemy." And Morel "had fallen in love with a woman with whom he was still living and who, being more strong-willed than he was, had been able to demand absolute fidelity from him."

Charlus goes on to talk about Norpois' enthusiastic support of the war -- "I think the death of my aunt Villeparisis must have given him a new lease of life" -- in his newspaper articles, and to talk about the old aristocracy of Europe in familiar terms; "As for the Tsar of the Bulgars, he is a complete nancy, a raving queer, but very intelligent, a remarkable man. He likes me very much." The narrator finds Charlus "obnoxious when he started on topics like these. He brought to them a self-satisfaction as annoying as that which we feel in the presence of an invalid who is always pointing out how good his health is." 

The narrator takes an opportunity to digress about "the relations between Mme Verdurin and Brichot." The latter's articles in the newspaper have "literally dazzled" society, to the annoyance of Mme. Verdurin, who,  "exasperated by the success that his articles were having in the Faubourg Saint-Germain, now took care never to have Brichot to her house when he was likely to meet there some glittering woman whom he did not yet know and who would hasten to entice him away." The narrator himself doesn't care much for Brichot's articles: "The vulgarity of the man was constantly visible beneath the pedantry of the literary scholar." And Mme. Verdurin "never started an article by Brichot without the prior satisfaction of thinking that she was going to find ridiculous things in it." And when she does, she makes a practice of mocking them to her guests, and by extension to mock her society rivals, such as Mme. Molé, who profess to admire them. Mme. Molé, the narrator tells us, "was cowardly enough to disown Brichot, whom in reality she thought the equal of Michelet."

Meanwhile, Charlus continues to talk about the war from his own peculiar point of view: "all those great footmen, six feet tall, who used to adorn the monumental staircases of our loveliest female friends, have all been killed." And he claims to be less distressed by the damage done to the cathedral at Rheims than to "the annihilation of so many of the groups of buildings which once made the smallest village in France both charming and edifying." The narrator thinks of Combray, and hopes Charlus won't talk about it, but he does, noting the destruction of Saint-Hilaire: "The church was destroyed by the French and the English because it was being used as an observation-post by the Germans. The whole of that mixture of living history and art that was France is being destroyed, and the process is not over yet." He goes on to proclaim pro-German sentiments, making the narrator uneasy:
He had developed the habit of almost shouting some of the things he said, out of excitability, out of his attempt to find outlets for impressions of which he needed -- never having cultivated any of the arts -- to unburden himself.... On the boulevards this harangue was also a mark of his contempt for passers-by, for whom he no more lowered his voice than he would have moved out of the way.

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