À l'ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs

À l'ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs In The Shadow Of Young Girls In Flower Is Proust S Spectacular Dissection Of Male And Female Adolescence, Charged With The Narrator S Memories Of Paris And The Normandy Seaside At The Heart Of The Story Lies His Relationships With His Grandmother And With The Swann Family As A Meditation On Different Forms Of Love, In The Shadow Of Young Girls In Flower Has No Equal Here, Proust Introduces Some Of His Greatest Comic Inventions, From The Magnificently Dull M De Norpois To The Enchanting Robert De Saint Loup It Is Memorable As Well For The First Appearance Of The Two Figures Who For Better Or Worse Are To Dominate The Narrator S Life The Baron De Charlus And The Mysterious AlbertineFirst Time In Penguin ClassicsA Penguin Classics Deluxe EditionThe First Completely New Translation Of Proust S Novel Since The S, Following Lydia Davis S Brilliant Translation Of Swann S Way

French novelist, best known for his 3000 page masterpiece la recherche du temps perdu Remembrance of Things Past or In Search of Lost Time , a pseudo autobiographical novel told mostly in a stream of consciousness style Born in the first year of the Third Republic, the young Marcel, like his narrator, was a delicate child from a bourgeois family He was active in Parisian high society during the 80s and 90s, welcomed in Remembrance

❰Epub❯ ➚ À l'ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs Author Marcel Proust – Stockbag.info
  • Paperback
  • 576 pages
  • À l'ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs
  • Marcel Proust
  • English
  • 25 August 2018
  • 9780143039075

10 thoughts on “À l'ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs

  1. says:

    I ve long debated with myself and friends the actual benefits of re reading versus a fresh read of a new book Would re reading really bring me a considerable number of new reflections, ideas and opinions to add to the first impressions I ve gathered on my first read And wouldn t this time spent on this repeated task be better employed by reading a completely different book that would instead and therefore give me completely different reflections on different subjects I perhaps haven t touched yet In short would a re read prove effective considering time spent and rewards obtained For being in the middle of a serious Proustmania obsession, really I decided to re read all of the volumes of his Recherche, even having questioned so much and for so long the advantages of a re read Well, in addition to everything else which I ll address along this review, this rexperience came to show me that, for some books, a re read is extremely beneficial if not almost required , especially in the case of a very long novel, with intricate plot, underlying motifs and interconnections that are impossible not only to absorb but also to notice on a first read Thus it can be only after one has recognised, not without having had to feel one s way, the optical illusions of one s first impression that one can arrive at an exact knowledge of another person, supposing such knowledge to be ever possible But it is not for while our original impression of him undergoes correction, the person himself, not being an inanimate object, changes in himself, we think that we have caught him, he moves, and, when we imagine that at last we are seeing him clearly, it is only the old impressions which we had already formed of him that we have succeeded in making clearer, when they no longer represent him In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower starts off by addressing one of Proust s most important beliefs and a theme that will recurrently permeate his narrative that what we understand to be someone, how we perceive and describe them, expect them to be, are merely an effort of our own intelligence into molding all of the characteristics we ve been shown and seen through our own perception into an sculpture we believe to be a fully functional person In order to develop his point, it seems the second volume makes a case of confusing us majestic Swann is described as someone of little prestige while buffoon Dr Cottard is a must have guest in any respectable dinner party Surely the writer confused their names after such a long hiatus between volumes A l ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs was only released in 1919, a good six years after the first volume was published due to the Great War This time, however, Proust wasn t to pay for the publication costs and the book would even win the prestigious Prix Goncourt award, making him widely known and appreciated not only in France, but also across Europe.The changes we observe in characters reputations and actions are not exclusively confined to Swann and Dr Cottard Besides them, we also learn of M Norpois and how his political views evolved over time Just in the first twenty pages or so of this volume, the writer already sends us the clear message that people and their status are never set in stone and prepares us to a big roller coaster ride when it comes to his characters and that will last throughout all of the volumes Proust s treatment of his personages feels like a superposition of a multitude of layers constituted of their past beings with the addition of the most current state at that particular time, which, granted, is only at the surface for a brief period, shortly being covered by yet another fresh and new layer that is for its turn as expirable as the previous one This constant shift is, of course, accompanied by his narrator s and our own which follows the same pattern and, with these ever changing subjects, arises a million possibilities as to what will happen every time a character reappears, thus making Proust s creations always exciting and never predictable.In addition to the conditions mentioned above of a person s own interior alterations and how our perception of those is in constant transformation as well there is the question of change of reputation by association Being someone respected and admired in the most prestigious and intimate circles of the Parisian society wasn t enough to keep Swann from having his esteem considerably downgraded after his marriage to Odette, like those chemical elements that form a good substance while associated with hydrogen and are poisonous while in a chemical reaction with lead Following this pattern, other characters will go up and down in the social scale depending on whom they re associated with, and also accompanying their respective ups and downs.Just like the characters change depending on the point of view they re being observed from much like the narrator s description of the Martinville steeples and their positions in relation to each other while on his car trip , certain events on the plot also do so Seemingly insignificant little moments such as an insistent look from someone, a face expression, a phrase that appears to be innocently said in the midst of a longer dialogue or even a statement surrounded by a lengthy digression from the narrator that could be overlooked retroactively take on a huge importance when analyzed from another perspective even if that only comes 500 or 600 pages later and one can t help to admire Proust s skillful incorporation of such little details that make his future events feel natural once they re fully developed, just as in life, where things certainly don t appear to us classified by importance or even by the future importance they ll attain in our lives and always in the right order This is one of the characteristics that make his writing so organic and lifelike and what, at the same time, may be perceived as boring for some readers.Still on the subject of how an event from one volume is important and brought to life again on a subsequent volume, we continue to witness how the narrator is incapable to control his nervous impulses an inability that was first exposed to us in the goodnight kiss drama from Swann s Way and easily gives in to his impulses even though he s fully aware of the consequences Only this time such matters are related to love his ungovernable need to establish a love connection with Gilberte and to receive it back from her makes him go to such lengths and to scheme manipulations that could be easily attributed to a sociopath Besides the aforementioned connection to the previous volume, these pages are also connected to a subsequent one, anticipating in hundreds of pages his behavior and conduct he s to develop later in another relationship.But back to the concerned volume, while Charles Swann is no longer a renowned gentleman, he still greatly influences the narrator s life, as the falling gent seems to be the one who drives our hero to accomplish those that were mere dreams in his mind when it came to places he wanted to visit it s because of Swann and his mention of how Bergotte the narrator s favorite writer admires Berma that our pupil develops his obsession with the theatre and the great actress it s also Swann who invites him to enter the much anticipated Gilberte s world and her mother s salon life his first one and, to conclude the dream trinity, his trip to Balbec was rekindled in his desires after a comment made by Charles about the roman cathedral in that beach While Swann s and the Guermantes ways were still separate paths to the narrator, it was through Swann that he was able to enter the Guermantes way, for was in Balbec following Swann s recommendation that he eventually met important characters that lived in that still obscure world It is precisely because of this trip that the narrator embarked on that we can also call this volume a book of firsts the first time he meets people from the Guermantes clan the first time he meets the artist Elstir that will influence his life and art so much and the first time he sees the young girls in flower All events that might seem like random plot directions but that, in the future, come together to form an unity After much longing in the first volume, the narrator finally makes a trip he s been anticipating for so long, and what a trip Not only the change of scenery was a breath of fresh air, providing us a warm beach breeze, after the cloistered feeling that came from the first chapter Madame Swann at Home , but this second part Place Names The Place depicts a major life changing experience while I was reading this chapter for the second time, it hit me how much of the future developments comes from this single summer trip, like one of those occasions in life where you stop and analyze what could ve been if this or that event never happened, if you never went to such place or never met a certain person you re left with no clue as to who you d be if not for that, almost like being born in a different time, country or family would make you a different person than you are now In such a supple time in one s life adolescence where even going to a different school and bonding with other friends could design a different personality, imagine and it really requires a powerful imagination to picture that if you hadn t met three of the most important people aside family of your life Aside the place and the people or maybe because of them , it s also at that time that the narrator stars playing with his theories and philosophies about life and art.And now that I ve mentioned art , I suppose it s time to talk about Elstir Proust s brilliance in not only conceiving a fully realized painter when he himself wasn t one but also in developing and depicting his talents so precisely as if he actually existed impressed me so much The way he described Elstir s painting talents is in complete relation with his own literary ones while Proust makes use of involuntary memories those sensations that are already in us, but that we can t recover through intelligence alone or we risk distorting them , Elstir makes use of involuntary first impressions those visions that appear to us right before we make use of intelligence to recognize them properly and to fit them to a pattern the difference being that Proust is revisiting a memory after it settled into his consciousness, and Elstir is painting a vision before it does so Both artists try to isolate a singular true feeling, removing all rationalization that we ve been programmed to attack with every unknown sensation that comes our way, like our white blood cells fighting foreign invaders.It seems Marcel Proust and James Joyce will remain forever linked in my mind they who only met once and had never read each other s works although Joyce later admitted he had read parts of Swann s Way , and who are so far apart in their writing techniques, but that to me stand so close, not just because I read them at the same time last year and now continue to do so as I m re reading the Recherche and the James Joyce biography by Richard Ellmann , but also because, having stated before that I wasn t much of a visual person while reading that is, I could never really form a fixed image of what the writer was describing, I wasn t able to build that room and enter it in my imagination, only blindly feel the sensations the words awakened in me after reading Joyce s Dubliners, began to be a little creative in that aspect So another positive aspect of re reading is that we re able to approach the same text while provided with new tools to delve into it that we ve acquired ever since finishing it the first time While I was re reading this second volume, I could picture what Proust meant when he described not only the sea and the sun and the landscapes his narrator envisioned outside of his window, but also even Elstir s paintings, which only existed in his mind And the whole section the narrator spent in the painter s atelier that bored me a bit on my first read for I could not envision any of the described images, now became gorgeous and alive as if he actually removed the white sheets that were covering them And our dread of a future in which we must forego the sight of faces, the sound of voices that we love, friends from whom we derive today our keenest joys, this dread, far from being dissipated, is intensified, if to the grief of such a privation we reflect that there will be added what seems to us now in anticipation an even cruel grief not to feel it as a grief at all to remain indifferent for if that should occur, our ego would have changed, it would then be not merely the attractiveness of our family, our mistress, our friends that had ceased to environ us, but our affection for them it would have been so completely eradicated from our heart, in which today it is a conspicuous element, that we should be able to enjoy that life apart from them the very thought of which today makes us recoil in horror so that it would be in a real sense the death of ourselves, a death followed, it is true, by resurrection but in a different ego, the life, the love of which are beyond the reach of those elements of the existing ego that are doomed to die Taking this review a bit to the personal side, one of the reasons this volume specifically resonated so deeply with me was due to the developed theories about loss and forgetting that Proust attributed to his narrator when he was obsessing about the end of his love for Gilberte or even for Albertine, but that can generally be used in the context of getting over someone even with whom no romantic link is involved that s gone away I ve always had a little trouble with that future when someone that is now so important, so vital, so present in my daily activities, simply won t be missed because time and habit will have worked their magic in making me comfortable with the new situation As paradoxical as it can be suffering because of a future time where we won t be suffering and fearing to forget exactly that which we won t remember , it feels like an actual loss and it gets to me every time whenever I changed schools, changed cities, changed jobs, I mourned about those friendships that I knew would cool down because of what would come from such situations.I find it mesmerizing how Proust was able to write like that in a work of fiction of course there s a lot of himself here and the very ideas he s developed his entire life , but for someone not currently experiencing all the situations while writing his book, it s pretty impressive how he could take a moment to dissect just about every possible feeling so well And when you find yourself or rather a piece of you so masterfully depicted in a work of art, being thoroughly analyzed, looked at from every possible angle, considering all hypothesis and implications, you can t help but to consider it a tool to mirror life and to understand yourself better and to highly value it.Rating for a volume that stands on its own and gets better on second read, without losing its initial charm, but becoming even interesting, and therefore strengthening in my not only my decision, but also my will to keep re reading 5 stars For my re reading experience of the entire la recherche du temps perdu Vol 1 Swann s Way reviewVol 2 In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower reviewVol 3 The Guermantes Way reviewVol 4 Sodom and Gomorrah reviewVol 5 La Prisonni re The Captive reviewVol 6 Albertine disparue The Fugivite reviewVol 7 Time Regained review

  2. says:

    The only book I ve ever abandoned after the first sentence.And what a sentence But I ll come back to that Let me first hasten to defend myself, to present my credentials, because I realise that Proust is held in such high esteem as to be almost beyond criticism not in the real world of course, that would be ridiculous, but on Goodreads certainly Of the 29 Goodreads friends who have rated this, 25 give it five stars, three give it four stars one the only French reader gives it three That is an astonishingly high proportion of full marks.So my apologies to all of you I plead only the right to a subjective opinion, one that has not been arrived at trivially My history with Proust is as follows I read Swann s Way very slowly over a period of several weeks, a reading experience memorable mainly for the fact that my girlfriend kept waking me up because I had dozed off halfway through a sentence Reading it in bed was probably a mistake There was a lot I liked about it, but I admit I didn t quite grasp what all the fuss was about I thought it insightful in parts, trite in others It was also plotless and self indulgent, but those things don t bother me on their own.The real problem was the prose style.For someone revered as a stylist, Proust to me seemed irritating at best, at worst barely readable I am prepared to accept that this is my problem In my notebook from that year I divided the page into two columns headed Awesomeness and Awkwardness to try and clarify in my mind the different reactions I was getting to his sentences But I gradually got fixated on the second category Phrases likeI was well aware that I had placed myself in a position than which none could be counted upon to involve me in graver consequences at my parents handsstrike me as being not just recondite, but fundamentally unsound in English, and I stress that caveat because I m aware that there may be a translation issue going on This kind of construction plays better in French, and although I do read French, I happened to read Proust in translation just because I have a Folio Society set of the Moncrieff Kilmartin Enright version If you re going to tell me that this all flows prettily in the original, I m prepared to believe you I think.After I finished Swann s Way, my dubious reaction to it niggled at me Surely I was missing something As a rule I m not someone who likes to follow popular opinion, but when so many people I respect seem to love this writer, maybe I have somehow failed to spot his essential charm So one day, several months later, I got the second volume down, poured myself a drink, sat in the garden and started reading It opens My mother, when it was a question of our having M de Norpois to dinner for the first time, having expressed her regret that Professor Cottard was away from home and that she herself had quite ceased to see anything of Swann, since either of these might have helped to entertain the ex Ambassador, my father replied that so eminent a guest, so distinguished a man of science as Cottard could never be out of place at a dinner table, but that Swann, with his ostentation, his habit of crying aloud from the house tops the name of everyone he knew, however slightly, was a vulgar show off whom the Marquis de Norpois would be sure to dismiss as to use his own epithet a pestilent fellow.I calmly closed the book again, got up, went inside and put it back on the shelf, where it has remained I went back and finished my drink I love the audacity of this sentence That is the only thing I love about it, though I feel that every native speaker who reads it must have the same jarring sense of dislocation when they reach the words my father , because it s natural when reading it to assume that My mother is the subject of the sentence, albeit immediately diverted by two long subordinate clauses But eventually on the third scan, in my case it dawns that the only verb governed by my mother is having expressed , and that the main clause hasn t even started until you get to his father So what Proust has done here is to postpone the grammatical subject of his sentence until fifty four words in For the opening sentence of a novel And it introduces five separate characters This is an unusual construction, to say the least X having done Y, A did B is unremarkable but introducing a subordinate clause set off by commas immediately after X leaves you hanging on, open mouthed, for a finitive verb, and hence obscures the meaning I understand that there are people who adore this style of writing and find it charming or delicate I don t though, I find it deeply unfriendly More than that, I find it somehow creepy.This is not because of the opacity itself Because I m a journalist, and because I like thinking about the mechanics of sentence structure, some friends have accused me of being overly harsh on writers who do not go for clarity and efficiency at all times I do respect those qualities, but I deny the charge I love complicated baroque prose styles, and there are plenty of writers who use Proustian effects in ways that move and excite me Henry James, Thomas Pynchon, oh there s dozens really It s really just Proust himself that leaves me cold It s something to do with the intricate formal correctness of it as though he s saying, Claim to be confused by this if you must I can assure you it adheres to all the rules There is an over earnest quality, a sickly intricacy, to his sentences They seem to be made all of elbows.The way he expresses himself is somehow true to the letter of language, without being true to its spirit At least in translation So that s my experience of him I m sorry, but I am just constitutionally unable to get past the extreme ponderousness of expression to enjoy his flashes of insight That s not to say that I ve given up on Marcel, and when I have some time I hope to try him again in French But for now at least he s staying on the shelf.

  3. says:

    A Note about the TranslationI wanted to support the translation of this volume by James Grieve, a lecturer at my alma mater, Australian National University, when I was there in the 70 s.I m pretty sure he taught two of my close friends While I can t recall meeting him, I did socialise with one of his colleagues, Robert Dessaix, who subsequently became a talented writer It was a very capable French Department However, in the 90 s, it was decimated by budget cuts and Grieve was made redundant He subsequently undertook a full teaching load for no remuneration, declining an opportunity to move to Sydney, so he could continue to cycle everywhere around Canberra and continue his commitment to the cause of French language and literature ANU hasn t even updated his CV to give him credit for this translation which for what it s worth was the favourite of Alain de Botton.I approached Grieve s translation a little sceptically at first I still have a few quibbles he translated petite bande as a little gang of girls, which you might do for punks, but I wonder about middle class girls, even if they were perceived as unruly However, I quickly stopped paying attention to the translation and focussed on the pleasures of the text.A Note about the TitleThe novel continues and extends Proust s literary analysis of love, focussing mainly on the narrator s journey through late adolescence and his early sexual experiences at ages 15 to 20, unless I m mistaken.The title of the Grieve translation is In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower , in contrast to the Kilmartin translation Within a Budding Grove.Taken separately, it s difficult to determine the intended meaning of each alternative title.To what extent is sexuality implicit in the title This question reminded me of the title of Chapter 28 of Thomas Hardy s Far from the Madding Crowd , a highly sexually charged chapter that goes by the name The Hollow Amid the Ferns Within a Budding Grove might simply refer to a forest of trees, which bud in winter in preparation for spring, a fairly innocuous translation, if still a metaphor.There is also an English song which might have been known to the translators Yet soon the lovely days of Spring Will leaf the budding grove The budding could also be symbolic of the adolescent experience and puberty of both genders, since females are not mentioned in this version On the other hand, given the literal meaning of the French title, the budding grove might be a pointed reference to female puberty, a rosebud being slang for female genitalia see also its significance in Citizen Kane.Grieve s translation is literal The young women are in flower or in bloom , a metaphor for puberty Perhaps the shadow refers to the darkness of the girls transition to adulthood or the fact that they tower metaphorically over the narrator and cast a shadow over his life and social and sexual experiences What, There s More After the tour de force that was the first volume, it still amazes me that Proust was able to continue writing about love with such insight, sophistication and wit and there are volumes to come.He keeps finding new things to say, all of which seem to be definitive in their analysis.Proust possessed amazing powers of observation In the first volume they were directed partly at his own childhood relationship with his mother, but mainly at the relationship of Charles Swann and Odette de Crecey.The second volume continues the scrutiny of Swann and the now Madame Swann, but the narrator moves to centre stage.He is an older and greater participant in the action However, even this statement has to be qualified in the case of Proust The great bulk of the text is what occurs in the narrator s mind, as he responds to events and stimuli around him He is still an acute observer He doesn t just look and think, he reviews, he criticizes, he critiques, as if every aspect of life is a literary or aesthetic experience At times, it approaches the lyrical and the musical, as if Proust were composing a symphony or an opera assembled from his responses and interactions.The sensation of touch is not enough He must cerebrally process the sensation and convert it into art An animal can touch and feel, only a human can create Art Proust worked at the pinnacle of what a human can fashion from their life experience Catherine Deneuve as Madame Odette Swann in the film of Time Regained At Madame Swann sIt quickly becomes apparent that Odette de Crecey from Volume 1 has married Charles Swann and had a daughter Gilberte, who is a similar age to the unnamed Marcel and is aged from 15 to 18 during the first section of the volume.Odette divided opinion in volume 1, because she was a high class courtesan Her marriage to Swann surprised Paris polite society and there are still many who scorn her However, despite all expectations, it seems that their marriage has been a success, at least to the extent that it has been mutually advantageous, which after all is possibly the least we can expect of any marriage.There are unresolved implications of dual infidelity, but they are back story and not the focus of this volume.Swann has lifted Odette into High Society, and she is grateful Odette has given Swann a daughter, who loves him, despite being equally strong willed, but just as importantly Odette confers on Swann a purely private satisfaction that cements their relationship.The status of the Swann family, despite Swann s Jewish background, allows Odette to establish a successful literary salon, but also to redesign herself Her complexion is dark In volume 1, her beauty was always played down Now, she seemed to have grown so many years younger, she had filled out, enjoyed better health, looked calmer, cooler, relaxed Her new pattern was full of majesty and charm She wore this immutable model of eternal youth At the same time, whatever she wore encompassed her like the delicate and etherealized epitome of a civilization These qualities are, apparently, attractive in a woman.While Marcel purports to be in love with Gilberte, he is at least partly in love with Odette as well Alternatively, he actually wants to be Odette, if only so that he can partner Swann, whom he admires This is not a simple relationship Picasso s Les Demoiselles d Avignon See Jim Everett s allusion to this painting here on Proust Reader At BalbecTwo years later, presumably when Marcel is about 18 to 20, his health requires him to spend a few seasons at the beach resort town of Balbec.He uses this time to forget his love for Gilberte Instead, his attention is drawn to a petite bande of jeunes filles en fleurs.This provides the set up for much contemplation on the subject matter of volume 1, memory and the nature of love, as well as the complications introduced by adolescent sexuality.It s these issues I d like to focus on for the rest of this review I hope you ll forgive me if I resort to the abstract or the impersonal, so as not necessarily to reveal the object of Marcel s affection and spoil your reading of the novel.A Critique of Pure DevotionIn volume 1, we learn much about the nature of love from the point of view of Swann, as narrated by Marcel Presumably, the narrative was dictated at a later phase of his life Here, we see him undergoing his own adolescent experiences, even if they were narrated subsequently.We learn what the older Marcel knows, only not in chronological order Proust adheres to a subjective order of revelation, which in a way reflects the fact that memory itself is not chronological It prioritises itself according to laws that we might never know or understand.From now on, I d like to allow Proust s words to speak for themselves as much as possible.The Subjectivity of LoveThe Object of Our Affection is what we make of them Love creates a supplementary person who is quite different from the one who bears our beloved s name in the outside world and is mostly formed from elements within ourselves Love having become so immense, we never reflect on how small a part the woman herself plays in it You love me, because I made you love me This real Albertine was little than an outline everything else that had been added to her was of my own making, for our own contribution to our love even if judged solely from the point of view of quantity is greater than that of the person we love You ll be my mirror When we are in love, our love is too vast to be wholly contained within ourselves it radiates outward, reaches the resistant surface of the loved one, which reflects it back to its starting point and this return of our own tenderness is what we see as the other s feelings, working their new, enhanced charm on us, because we do not recognise them as having originating in ourselves The Conjunction of Love and Pain Whatever I longed for would be mine only at the end of a painful pursuitthis supreme goal could be achieved only on condition that I sacrifice to it the pleasure I had hoped to find in it The Quest for Beauty as a Source of Love and Life I was at one of those times of youth when the idle heart, unoccupied by love for a particular person, lies in wait for Beauty, seeking it everywhere, as the man in love sees and desires in all things the woman he cherishes Looking at her, I was filled with that renewed longing for life which any fresh glimpse of beauty and happiness can bring The Desire to Please, to Possess and to PenetrateIn order to gain love, you must make the acquaintance of the one you desire and then seek their approval I was not yet old enough, and had remained too sensitive, to have given up the wish to please others and to possess them First, you have to enter their field of vision and engage them in conversation It was not only her body I was after, it was the person living inside it, with whom there can be only one mode of touching, which is to attract her attention, and one mode of penetration, which is to put an idea into her mind Sometimes, a kiss is not enough You must incite admiration, desire and memory Just as it would not have been enough for me, in kissing her, to take pleasure from her lips without giving her any in return, so I wished that the idea of me, in entering her, in becoming part of her, might attract not only her attention, but her admiration, her desire, and might force it to keep a memory of me against the day when I might be able to benefit from it The Relevance of Physical Intimacy I had thought the love I felt for Albertine did not depend on any hope of physical intimacy The Unattainability of the Love Object Love, mobile and pre existing, focuses on the image of a certain woman simply because she will be almost certainly unattainable Sometimes, it s not impossible, just difficult I was inclined to magnify the simplest of pleasures because of the obstacles that lay between me and the possibility of enjoying them The Attainability of the Love ObjectThe easily attainable the love, the less the pleasure The main reason for the shrinking of the pleasure to which I had been so looking forward was the knowledge that nothing could now prevent me from enjoying it The Possession of the Love Object Our love too seems to have vanished at the very moment when we come into possession of a prize the value of which we have never really thought about The Postponement of Gratification It is seldom that a joy is promptly paired with the desire that longed for it The you dally, the greater the dalliance What monotony and boredom color the lives of those who drive directly without ever daring to dally along the way with what they desire But don t dally too long It is not certain that the happiness that comes too late, at a time when one can no longer enjoy it, when one is no longer in love, is exactly the same happiness for which we once pined in vain There is only one person our former self who could decide the issue and that self is no longer with us Be wary of sabotage and self denial The only thing I cared for, my relationship with Gilberte, was the very thing I was trying to sabotage, through my prolonging of our separation, through my gradual fostering not of her indifference toward me, but which would come to the same thing in the end of mine toward her My unremitting effort was directed to bringing about the slow, agonizing suicide of the self that loved Gilberte Self denial should not be conditional, lest the conditions not be met unless she made an unambiguous request for us to clarify our relationship, accompanied by a full declaration of her love for me, both of which I knew were impossible The Satisfaction of One Desire Creates Another To possess a little of her would only increase our need for the part of her that we do not possess and in any case, within our part, since our needs arise out of our satisfactions, something of her would still lie forever beyond our grasp The Coincidence of Desire and Reality When reality coincides at last with something we have longed for, fitting perfectly with our dreams, it can cover them up entirely and become indistinguishable from them, as two symmetrical figures placed against one another seem to become one whereas, so as to give our joy its full intensity of meaning, we would actually prefer every detail of our desires, even at the instant of fulfillment, to retain the presence of still being immaterial, so as to be certain that this really is what we desired The Source of Our Memory The things that are best at reminding us of a person are those which, because they were insignificant, we have forgotten, and which have therefore lost none of their power Which is why the greater part of our memory exists outside us, in a dampish breeze, in the musty air of a bedroom or the smell of autumn s first fires, things through which we can retrieve any part of us that the reasoning mind, having no use for it, disdained, the last vestige of the past, the best of it, the part which, after all our tears seem to have dried, can make us weep again The Habits of Love This recurrence of pain and the renewal of my love for Gilberte did not last longer than they would have in a dream of her, for the very reason that my life at Balbec was free of the habits that in usual circumstances would have helped it to prevail It was because of Habit that I had become and indifferent to Gilberte The Mutability of Love If we consciously or unconsciously outgrow those associations, our love, as though it was a spontaneous growth, a thing of our own making, revives and offers itself to another woman There was in me a residue of old dreams of love, dating from my childhood, full of all the tenderness my heart was capable of, all the love it had ever felt, and which was now indistinguishable from it, which could be suddenly brought back to me by someone as different as possible from me This liking for new places and people is of course worked into our forgetting of older ones The Indivisibility of Love My feeling was no longer the simple attraction of the first days it was an incipient, tentative love for each or any of them, every single one of them being a natural substitute for any of the others The Resemblance of Our Love Objects There is a degree of resemblance between the women we love at different times and this resemblance, though it devolves, derives from the unchanging nature of our own temperament, which is what selects them, by ruling out all those who are not likely to be both opposite and complementary to us, who cannot be relied on, that is, to gratify our sensuality and wound our heart Such women are a product of our temperament, an inverted image or projection, a negative of our sensitivity You Are Too Like Me for Me To Love It was impossible for any love of mine for Andree to be true she was too intellectual, too highly strung, too prone to ailment, too much like myself Though Albertine now seemed empty, Andree was full of something with which I was overfamiliar The Shadow At those moments in my life when I was not in love but wished I was, the ideal of physical beauty I carried about with mewas partnered by the emotional shadow, ever ready to be brought to real life, of the woman who was going to fall in love with me and step straight into the part already written for herin the comedy of fondness and passion that had been awaiting her since my childhoodas long as she had a pleasant disposition and some of the physical characteristics required by the role Love or Enjoyment I sensed that those who know love and those who enjoy life are not the same people Emmanuelle B art as Gilberte in the film of Time Regained At the Zoo After and in the Words of Proust Madame Swann s Easy stepGave her coatA loose andLazy sway.Noticing,I conferredA shy glance,Subtle butAdmiring,Upon which,Detected,I was thenRewardedWith a wink Of her eyeAnd a slowFlirtatiousSmile Oh whatEcstasy.Ill Bergotten After and in the Words of Proust Matter of factAnd overrich,The familiar,Did he eschew Not content toToe the line, henceApproached from somePetty angle,His ideasAlways soundedUnbeauteous,Wearisome and Convoluted A CartesianDevil, vainlyEndeavouringTo endureEternallyIn equipoise Smartness for the Sake of smartness,Thus, were his wordsTwisted around.Ephemeral,But not profound.Avenue du Bois de Boulogne After and in the Words of Proust Madame Swann sauntered along theAvenue du Bois de Boulogne,Mellow, gentle, smiling and stately,At the peak of wealth and beauty,Delectable in the bloomingSummer season of her lifetime,From which glorious point she watchedWorlds turn beneath her measured tread,Until Prince de Sagan spied her.His greeting evoked chivalry,Polite and allegorical,A noble homage to Woman,Since recalled by Proust after noonAny fine day in May, a glimpseOf Madame Swann chatting with himIn the glow of wisteria.Satisfied, at peace, in love, hisSpirit freed from hysteria.Une Petite Bande After and in the Words of Proust Look there, far awayOn the esplanade,Making a strange massOf moving colours,Five or six young girlsAll as differentIn their appearanceAnd their ways from theOther bathers asThe odd gaggle of Seagulls strutting onThe beach, wings flapping.

  4. says:

    Adolescent AestheticsThe temptation to compare Philip Roth and Marcel Proust is one I can t resist Both Goodbye Columbus and Portnoy s Complaint seem to me inverted interpretations of Proust s Within the Budding Grove Using the same technique of relentless interior monologue, all are coming of age novels featuring sex, taste of one kind or another, and social class set against a background of contemporary manners and Jewish assimilation All three books assay the problems of male adolescence hormones, separation from family, impending career and their possible solutions But whereas Roth views these problems as arising from perceived cultural deprivation, Proust shows how inadequacies emerge equally among the privileged in much the same way And while Roth treats the evolution from child to adult in terms of neurosis to be overcome, Proust describes milestones in psychological and social realisation that are necessary steps to becoming a person.Proust would likely agree with Roth s take on adolescence A disorder in which strongly felt ethical and altruistic impulses are perpetually warring with extreme sexual longings, often of a perverse nature Marcel s warring self is in essence not much different from Portnoy s, although a tad refined, our virtues themselves are not free and floating qualities over which we retain a permanent control and power of disposal. says Marcel, inverting St Paul s observations about vice.But the aims of each author protagonist differ fundamentally Roth s ambition through Portnoy is to raise obscenity to the level of a subject Marcel s goal is to experience romantic love in which he penetrates the soul of another Sexual intimacy for the latter is an expected consequence of this spiritual union but not its objective, perhaps because of his access even as a young teenager to the brothels of Paris which he found unsatisfying.As the son of a senior government official, Marcel is exposed to ministers of state, the nobility and other VIP s from infancy What he learns without knowing what he is learning is protocol, how to act formally in social situations What to say and not to say, how to stand, who to quote, the techniques of assessing relative social standing, and distinguishing the outre from the avant garde Roth s characters come from the antithesis of Paris, namely Newark, New Jersey They too learn skills, those that are equally necessary to survive in a dominant culture which is not their own and in a political environment which may be just as brutal as that of Paris but far less gentile Nevertheless the manners each acquires because of his background are equally problematic for all For the Newark boys, their lower class immigrant Jewish roots impede assimilation into middle class American society for Marcel, his learned reserve and internalised emotional calculation inhibit his naturalness and makes him shy in the company of the relatively free wheeling middle classes For all, their backgrounds get in the way of relations with women, the former with Gentile girls, the latter with modern females unimpressed by breeding All persistently pursue the same types with predictable, disappointing results.What Roth seems to lack almost totally, however, and which Proust emphasises, even in his stylised accounts of sex and class, is the development of taste, the aesthetic sense which substitutes in Proust s work for religious belief It is this sense of the beautiful that provides an increasingly important guide for Marcel s actions Early in Within the Budding Grove, Marcel marks the centrality of the aesthetic even in relationships of love, The bonds that unite us to another human being are sanctified when he or she adopts the same point of view as ourselves in judging one of our imperfections He then goes on to make love instrumental to the appreciation of beauty rather than vice versa fully as much as retirement, ill health, or religious conversion, a protracted love affair will substitute fresh visions for the old This aesthetic sense is the pivot around which all of Proust s writing in this volume rotates It is what makes the work a coherent whole And it is the lack of an equivalent centre of gravity in Roth that makes his work somewhat unsatisfying in comparison.Marcel is aware of himself in a way that the Newark boys can t be without a sense of the aesthetic In Jungian terms and there can be little doubt that Proust is a natural if not a well read Jungian , Marcel is an Objective Introvert, that is he is particularly sensitive to his environment and he tends to adapt himself to that environment rather than to try to change it He comes to know this towards the end of the volume contrary to what I had always asserted and believed, I was extremely sensitive to the opinions of others and I feel it is eminently sensible of them to safeguard their lives, while at the same time being unable to prevent myself pushing my own safety into the background That is, he learns something that is not possible without an aesthetic standard of what constitutes learning.But because Marcel has a developed aesthetic sense, he also has a solution to his, rather common, problem of objective introversion He has another aspect to his personality which on its own also causes him additional and frequent trouble he constantly projects himself onto other people He believes that they are either like himself in terms of desires and likely responses, or that they conform to his primitively articulated ideal This causes recurring disappointment a famed actress is far less talented than he expects, church sculptures are less impressive than he had believed, a prospective friend turns out less approachable than he anticipates Marcel comes to know he does this and he begins to appreciate the consequences But instead of trying to eliminate this tendency toward projection from his personality, something he recognises as impossible, he seeks to make it conscious as a sort of control on the other part of his personality, his natural introversion, For beauty is a series of hypotheses which ugliness cuts short Projections are no longer neurotic if they ever were , but a means to test the world, in an almost scientific way through hypotheses, to find out what is really there This is a very clever psychological strategy that neither Freud nor Jung ever considered, a sort of pragmatic aesthetics which allows the parts of his psyche to function productively together And it works.Moreover, in the manner of St Augustine, Marcel, recognises that aesthetically driven desire leads beyond itself, like a religious icon which points to a reality not yet occurring, The most exclusive love for a person is always a love for something else It is this something else which he first brings up in volume 1 and alludes to subtly throughout volume 2 Always just beyond our linguistic grasp, it is that which draws language forth He goes even further and creates a quasi religious ontology of that which lies beyond, For a desire seems to us attractive, we repose on it with confidence, when we know that outside ourselves there is a reality that conforms to it, even if, for us, it is not to be realised Therefore, Marcel s Proust s aesthetic is, remarkably, both pragmatic and spiritual Even remarkably, it is also ethical The advice of his painter friend Elstir is precise, We do not receive wisdom we must discover it for ourselves Although Marcel s aspiration is to become a writer, this advice is general Discovery implies that there is something new to be seen, heard, touched, painted, talked about, invented He is able to come to several conclusions therefore, which are rather insightful than anything in Roth Regarding which of a gang of girls to woo, for example, he puts all his newly acquired skills together to picture the future somewhat longer than the subsequent few hours As in a nursery plantation where the flowers mature at different seasons, I had seen them, in the form of old ladies, on this Balbec shore, those shrivelled seed pods, those flabby tubers, which my new friends would one day be But what matter For the moment it was their flowering time Innovative indeed for a man on the make The recognition and maturing of this aesthetic sense is the necessary next step from Marcel s insights in volume 1 about purposefulness, the capacity to choose appropriate purpose The aesthetic criteria he is developing apply not only to appreciating beauty but to understanding what is important, that is, what is valuable Value is not an economic category in Proust but an aesthetic one therefore inseparable from taste And it in taste that Marcel is than a bit advanced over his New Jersey fellow adolescents.

  5. says:

    L OMBRE de la REPR SENTATIONOn my review of Du c t de chez Swann I had concentrated on the pre eminence of the visual The careful attention paid by Proust to light, to colour, to objects that add colour such as flowers, and to painting and the visual arts in general, led me to conceive of his art as painterly writing All those elements continue in this second volume I could easily select another rich sample of quotes that would illustrate this visual nature Indeed, sight is explicitly designated in this book as the principal sense It is through seeing that we make sense of our world Things, people , ne sont port s sur nous que sur une plane et inconsistante superficie, parce que nous ne prenons conscience d eux que par la perception visuelle r duite elle m me mais c est comme d l gu e des autres sens qu elle se dirige vers les autres sens vont chercherles diverses qualit s odorantes, tactiles, savoureuses, qu ils go tent ainsi m me sans le secours des mains et des l vres 559 This extract then introduces another aspect which is the one on which I wish to focus this time ..et, capables, gr ce aux arts de transposition, au g nie de synth se o excelle le d sir, de restituer sous la couleur.., 559 This review will examine the concept and activity of Transposition or Representation as the very core of what constitutes artistic creation FASHIONING the FASHIONSIn l ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs, we see the Narrator fascinated by the way people represent themselves When he observes those who have awakened his imagination, he pays attention to the way they dress and cloak their presence The choice of clothes is part of the way a person manifests the self And although the Narrator confesses that he is infatuated with Gilberte Swann, in reality his fascination is with the mother, with Odette, who has changed her life and made herself into Mme Swann He notices how in her self transformation Odette has moved from the rather theatrical Japonisme d cor, outfits and somewhat garish choice of clothes, that we saw from a close up in Un amour de Swann to a delicate style in which subtle pastel colours in silk cr pe reflect the tender and gentle manner seen in the depictions Watteau, the painter of the gallanterie, and which suit better the wife of Monsieur Swann But in this new style of clothes in which she has concocted herself there are traces of her past that the Narrator can sniff, as she lets her breasts be caressed by the silk and abandons herself to the enjoyment of the new luxury, 230, desquelles elle faisait le geste de caresser sus ses seins l cume fleurie, et dans lesquelles elle se baignait, se pr lassait, s battait. Similarly the decorative buttons are a quote of those functional which in the past would have been an invitation to their being unbuttoned 235 d celer une intention une reminiscence indiscernable du pass Odette works relentlessly at transforming and creating her own image and is completely aware of the transcendence of her self fashioning, for herself and for the world 522 disciplinant ses traits avait fait de son visage et de sa taille cette cr ation , And also 234 On sentait qu elle ne s habillait pas seulement pour la commodit ou la parure de son corps, elle tait entour e de sa toilette comme de l appareil d licat et spiritualis d une civilisation.Because with all this calculated impersonation, Odette is acting indeed as a creator Rightfully, she feels satisfied with her art when she conceives her toilette 254 ayant l air d assurance et de calme du cr ateur qui a accompli son oeuvre et ne se soucie plus du reste SALONS and THEATRICALITYBut Odette s transformation will reach its apex and she will be in full command of her new delicate and purified self, when she can also design her own setting, her own stage, her Salon In that composition she can become, finally, a Grande Dame Surrounded by white flowers, by white furniture, by white accoutrements, echoes of the Pre Raphaelites, and of the original Primitives, will resonate She can evoke images in which angels announce a miracle and designate the virginity in a woman, with all its inebriating effect All of this thanks to the harmonies of a fully orchestrated 252 Symphonie en blanc majeur For it is through a Salon that a lady can best picture herself, fully The emblematic surroundings situate one as the model to which one s society can look Salons are the dramatic setting in which something is created out of sheer theatricality The guests form a frame around the Hostess who behaves as if she were the main guest, the main actress, the main sitter So much so, that it becomes difficult for some people to be able to picture a lady, Odette, outside of her own Salon.For the art of creating a Salon is the art of nothingness 212 bien qu ils ne fassent que nuancer l inexistent, sculpter le vide, et soient proprement parler les Arts du N ant l art de savoir r unir , de s entendre grouper, de mettre en valeur , de s ffacer , de servir de trait d union inverted commas in the original And in this art we saw in the previous volume that Odette s teacher had been Mme Verdurin who tait elle m me un Salon.REPRODUCTION or EYE LENSESIn a line of argument that Walter Benjamin may have picked up from Proust, the Narrator notices the other mode of visual representation, photography, with a similar view to his grandmother s in the Combray section of the first novel Industrial reproduction vulgarises that which art had filtered as beauty 495 il faut. reconna tre que, dans la mesure o l art met en lumi re certaines lois, une fois qu une industrie les a vulgaris es, l art ant rieur perd r trospectivement un peu de son originalit But the Narrator is no reactionary Photograhy has a value, since it stores images that have been lost 409 La photographie acquiert un peu de la dignit qui lui manque, quand elle cesse d tre une reproduction du r el et nous montre des choses qui n existent plus And interestingly, it can also widen and enrich the capabilities of our eyes d admirables photographies de paysages et de villes image diff rente de celles que nos avons l habitude de voi telle de ces photographies magnifiques illustrera une loi de la perspective, nous montrera telle cath drale que nos avons l habitude de voir au milieu de la ville, prise au contraire d un point choisi d o elle aura l air trente fois plus haute que les maisons et faisant peron au bord du fleuve d o elle est en r alit distante Futher, it is thanks to these reproduced images that the Narrator has constructed his mental and ideal picture of the church at Balbec before he can visit it If sometimes his confrontation of reality leads him to disappointment, in this case representation is not at odds with its origin and has on the contrary aggrandized the significance of the original The Narrator is conquered by awe when standing in front of the real object, the thing in itself 283 maintenant c est l glise elle m me, c est la statue elle m me, elles, les uniques c est bien plus.UNVEILING the CLOTHESBut if we saw that any one person will fashion her or his clothes with the idea of embodying the self in a particular desired way, here comes the artist, the painter, ready to disentangle that conception and model both the art of fashion designers and the projections of a sitter into yet another level of transformation.For Elstir teaches the Narrator that the modistes are artists who with just one gesture they can convert simple matter into something sublime 571 their art le geste delicat par lequel elles donnent un dernier chiffonement aux noeuds et aux plumes d un chapeau termin And yet, he will, with also a single gesture, unlock the camouflage set up by the fashion makers and the sitters and reveal their inner reality 523 cette harmonie, le coup d il d un grand peintre la d truit en une seconde,..So the Narrator presents the duel between a sitter and her portraitist, in which they fight for different representation of her image By the inclusion of a revealing element in the portrait of a cousin to the Princesse de Luxembourg, 523 un vaste d cor inclin et violet qui faisait penser la Place Pigalle the painter leaves a trace that can lead to her dubious moral past This is a signal which the sitter, however, may not detect un grand artiste ne cherchera aucunement donner satisfaction la femme but the artist is not ready to compromise and he will d senchanter le spectateur vulgaire.And it is in his portrait of Odette that the Elstir enthralls the Narrator by extracting from her that very quality which has fascinated our protagonist from early on but which Mme Swann had covered up In her portrayal as Miss Sacripant, Elstir has rendered all her theatricality, fictitiousness and double entendre Not only is she dressed up in costume and figuring as someone else, but even her sex appeal is ambiguous and elusive 506ff Odette Miss Sacripantle caract re ambigu de l tre dont j avais le portrait sous les yeux tenait, sans que je le comprisse, ce que c tait une jeune actrice d autrefois en demi travesti en costume. un tre factice. Dismantling the construction of the mantle of purity in which Mme Swann had wrapped herself, the painter has unfolded the full fan inside the young Narrator s imagination by expanding the two poles of Odette s spectrum, the Grande Dame or the Cocotte PAINTERLY REPRESENTATIONElstir as Eye Opener.For it is in the painter Elstir that, so far, our Narrator finds the most pure inspiration When he finally encountered Bergotte, the object of his fascination from an early age, our Narrator felt disappointed Prior to the meeting he had already become very familiar with the writer s exquisite prose so there was no discovery And may be as a sign of his youth, he had fallen into the trap of expecting appearances to match substance, when Bergotte s common physique did not match his stylized prose So, even though Bergotte sits at the crest of writing, the art in which the Narrator dreams to excel, it is another art medium that will, literally, open the Narrator s eyes There is no disappointment in his meeting the metamorphosed Monsieur Biche And this Biche turned into Elstir presents him with new and unknown wonders.Pervasive Images.But one wonders at what point in time this Narrator has opened up his eyes As we read these memories we do not know when the painterly way of conceiving things entered his mind The novel is full of terms related to surfaces and paintings and frames There are many fen tres, cadres, rideaux, peintures doubles, cloth covered paintings, hublots portholes , vitraux and vitrines, crins, tudes en verre, r tables or predellas, and a lot of glass and glass gallerias Here is an extract loaded with them 454 changea le tableau que j y trouvais dans la fen tre dans le verre glauque et qu elle boursouflait de ses vagues rondes. sertie entre les montants de fer de ma crois e comme dans les plombs d un vitrail un tableau religieux au dessus du ma tre autel. parties diff rentes du couchant, expos es dans les glaces des biblioth ques basses en acajou couraient le long des murs on exhibe c t les uns des autres dans une salle de mus e les volets s par s que l imagination seule du visiteur remet leur place sur les pr delles d un retable. Observing Reality and Extracting Truth.The Narrator comes to the realization that talent is neither inherited nor is it contagious He had already admitted that by hanging out with Bergotte in social activities he would not absorb the writer s mastery Observing and talking with Elstir, he becomes mesmerized with the painter and tries to unlock the mystery of his artistic ability He apprehends that it cannot be obtained by sheer effort of the conscious mind or l int lligence Time and memory are necessary to extract the truth out of the surrounding reality and these cannot be summoned by the pure and cold intellect Perception tuned at its finest, together with a poetic eye, will bring the ability to dissolve one s preconceived notions and 492 voir la nature telle qu elle est, po tiquement One is to let free the whole array of immediate sensations and not let the intellect s preconceptions 498 L effort que Elstir faisait pour se d pouiller en pr sence de la r alit de toutes les notions de son intelligence.Reality needs to be reflected, but the kind of mirror that is capable of reflecting beauty and truth is just not any mirror, it has to be the mirror of genius and it is in this mirroring activity that beauty is generated.157 De m me ceux qui produisent des oeuvres g niales sont ceux qui ont le pouvoir, de rendre leur personnalit pareille un miroir, de telle sorte que , le g nie consistant dans le pouvoir r fl chissant et non dans la qualit intrins que du spectacle refl t.Such is Elstir s abiltiy at detecting hidden beauty, that the Narrator also learns from him that it can also be extracted out of common objects This is a huge revelation for him, because he no longer needs to block obstacles and vulgar intrusions when he wants to admire his Balbec church Elstir is capable of distilling beauty even out of Dead Nature, or Still Lives 532 j essayais de trouver la beaut l o je ne m tais jamais figur qu elle f t, dans les choses les plus usuelles, dans la vie profonde des natures mortes.Mental Transformation Construction.But registering sensations is not enough As the Narrator tells us, the process that Leonardo called cosa mentale is necessary if one is to approach truth The artist will arrange a new grouping of the constituent elements of the sensory experience and this new arrangement will reveal its deeper nature 522 g nie artistique pouvoir de dissocier les combinaisons d atomes et de grouper ceux ci suivant d un ordre absolu.In the magic transformation in which beauty is distilled out of common elements, Elstir s alchemy converts his at lier or studio into a Laboratory Using his capabilities as Creator he will conjure up order out of chaos and will produce a new reality 491 L at lier d Elstir m apparut comme le laboratoire d une sorte de nouvelle cr ation du monde, o , du chaos que sont toutes choses que nous voyons, il avait tir And in this he is comparable to the supreme creator because if He named things, Elstir renames them 492 si Dieu le P re avait cr les choses en les nommant, c est en leur tant le nom, ou en leur donnant un autre, qu Elstir les recr ait.Art Becomes its own Force.Depicted things enter a new realm of existence They continue to be that which they may no longer are, but cease to be what they were by acquiring this new nature 491 pris une dignit nouvelle du fait qu ils continuaient tre, encore d pourvus de ce en quoi ils passaient pour consister la vague ne pouvant plus mouiller ni le veston habiller personne.With such a transformational ability, Art eventually is no longer just an outcome in a process It will consolidate its own existence and become a new force With this impulse it will act in a boomerang fashion and having emerged out of reality it will project itself back and change its nature Similarly to the way Swann fell in love with Odette, by clothing her with Botticelli s images, the Narrator begins to see a charm in Mme Elstir once he projects Titian onto her These two artists, Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Fillipeppi a.k.a Botticelli and Tiziano Vecellio are an example of how two individuals, before Elstir, were able to elicit beauty out of their sitters and surroundings, thanks to their sensibility and ability to transform and represent bequeathing to us their art and enriching our perceptions.FINAL CURTAINSIn this volume we continue to accompany the Narrator in his Education Sentimentale, but as we join him in the exploration of his feelings, fascinations and obsessions, we witness the particular and wholehearted attention he pays to the phenomenon of artistic Representation We see with his eyes how he discovers it through the visual arts and its aesthetics and participate in this Education Artistique.And if the novel finishes with the opening of the curtains in the Narrators room, we shall now close them tightly until it is time to open them up again and let light stream in beautifully and poetically and enable us to continue to see.And all of this we see through text Page references are to the Gallimard Folio edition.FIFTEEN stars.

  6. says:

    There s a lot of stuff in Volume 2 of A La Recherche Du Temps Perdu, and people see different things in it To me, though, the unifying theme is a continuation of Proust s analysis of how romantic relationships work, which he started in Un Amour de Swann There, he examined one particular kind of relationship Swann spends a fair amount of time with Odette, who is very nice to him and keeps saying how she wishes she could see him often Without realizing it, he comes to rely on her always to be there for him One night, she isn t, and he suddenly discovers he s hooked The balance of power changes completely he needs her all the time, she s hardly ever available, and his life is taken over by psychotic jealousy If you ve never had this kind of thing happen to you, count yourself lucky.In the second volume, Proust looks at two kinds of patterns, where the relationship isn t as clearly defined as it is with Swann and Odette He shows how hard it can sometimes be to understand that a relationship has started or ended With the narrator and Gilberte, he s involved with her in an early teen way, and then, somehow, things go wrong He s mad at her, and thinks he won t see her for a bit Then it continues a bit longer, and he still hasn t seen her After a while, it s clear that the relationship is over, but it s not obvious whether he ever made a real decision to end it He examines all his shifting thoughts and emotions in the minutest detail, and you still don t know At least, I didn t.With Albertine, in the last third of the book, we get the case that I find most interesting He s at Balbec apparently it s based on the real life resort town of Cabourg I first learned that from a Brigade Mondaine novel He sees this rather rowdy gang of teenage girls who go around together, laughing and indulging in various kinds of horseplay He s a sickly kid, and their boisterous animal spirits appeal to him There s one in particular that he keeps on bumping into by accident Her name is Albertine, and after a while he decides he s fallen in love with her Being Proust, he has to carefully go though all the times they ve met, and look at how his feelings evolved in response to those chance meetings When he reconstructs everything, an interesting fact emerges he thought he was meeting the same girl every time, but in fact he may not have It s possible that he met different girls on the different occasions, and the feelings just crystallized out as deciding that he was in love with Albertine He doesn t know, and they don t know If the book had been written 15 years later, I would have wondered if this was an allusion to the new quantum theory you have, as it were, a wave function of girls, which collapses into the single Albertine observation But I m pretty sure that that was still in the future, so Proust made it all up himself Impressive Conceivably, the causality went the other way perhaps some quantum physicist was inspired by Proust s novel The thought I find so interesting here is that, as Proust shows, you can fall in love quickly, but then there is a philosophical problem who are you falling in love with At one point in my life, I was kind of interested in the semantics of denotation and reference, but linguistic philosophers like Kripke, Quine or Montague never seem to look at examples as complex as the ones that Proust makes up I would love to know if someone has done an analysis of his books from this kind of angle From the practical point of view, though, I think there is a useful lesson to be learned If you fall in love quickly, the person you re in love with may not really exist That s worth remembering.

  7. says:

    sorry, david this book is better than swann s way to the extent that i may have to go back and give swann s way three stars so that when i give this book four stars it doesn t make them equals, and, having four books to go, i want to leave room for a five star anticipation the first half of swann s way had me understanding what people did not like about proust there was a lot of me hating on the narrator and gacking over his precious daintiness this one, though, phoar it is true it took me a long time to read it, and it was partly because the lulling nature of his prose would cause me to drift off into my own batch of memories and i would realize that three subway stops had gone by, or ten minutes of my break had passed, or i was asleep that happened a few times, not because it was boring, but because his style is so much like a gentle boat on a lazy stream and it s all memory and dreamy and suddenly i am actually dreaming that s pretty powerful and then, i realized my copy was defective, and eight pages were blank that s like two proust sentences gone so i had to get a new copy and transfer all my bookmarks, marking passages i liked, such as In reality, there is in love a permanent strain of suffering which happiness neutralises, makes potential only, postpones, but which may at any moment become, what it would long since have been had we not obtained what we wanted, excruciating which is just gorgeous and there is so much like that in this book so much delightfully neurotic stewing and examining every delicate memory of first, and second, love marcel is a thinkier prufrock waiting and waiting and thinking and hesitating and eventually pouncing, but like my cat when she s just playing with me to please me you can tell her heart is elsewhere but everyone, not just you, david, said this book was a valley in between the literary heights of swann s way and guermantes way, but i thought it was stunning i am taking a proust break for a moment,maybe two or three books worth, because i can see myself getting wholly immersed in the proustiverse and becoming too introspective and examining the minutia of life and love and disappointments and that s something you really want to space out and not digest all at once, for the sanity s sake but then i suspect i will not be able to stop until the bitter end with brian s deleted aborted wedding scene.come to my blog

  8. says:

    WHY Or The Brain on ProustThere s a group of 7 ladies I ve known for quite some time We meet regularly for afternoon tea, going round turn and turn about, although Barbara has now been excused from hosting in deference to her great seniority and some health issues that come along with the seniority We have nothing in common except that we are all English native speakers, living here in Germany, and all of us married at one time or another to German husbands So it s only the language that connects us our teas are a place where we can let go and speak naturally ahem without worrying about whether t others will understand although we ve all been here for so long now that our English would probably sound oddly quaint to native ears, and we do spend considerable chunks of the afternoon attempting to find adequate equivalents of German words that have popped into our minds because the English is missing A group of ladies that I meet regularly, and who I would definitely consider as friends, even though we do not necessarily share many common interests.Recently we went out for a bit of a posh nosh to celebrate Angela s 70th there s a wide range of ages too you see, and I d like to point out that I am much the youngest Now Angela is a reader, so I can talk to her about books we pass stuff to each other too and when Janet overheard that I had embarked on this project of reading Proust s great masterpiece, she just looked at me and said Why And it was an incredulous why, a why on earth would you sort of why, not a why now, why have you chosen to do so at this juncture, as she made plain when I started to say that the initial trigger was the fact that it was 100th anniversary of publication, which led to the motivational force of an online group to help me through No, but why would you do such a thing at all Now I have to admit that I was a bit flummoxed No simple answer came to mind, especially since at that time I was struggling a little, so could not even say that I was enjoying it, because I have to say that at the time I wasn t And that struggle reached a real crisis point later that very week, as I was developing a cold and already beginning to feel woozy that evening I dragged myself to work the next day, but then gave up and cancelled all classes and snuggled up with the cat on the sofa Three days at home with very little human contact or physical exercise makes me go slightly stir crazy So when I had the strength to pick up a book again, to find myself trapped inside the head of a self absorbed neurasthaenic endlessly obsessing over unrequited love for a cold hearted companion nearly drove me to distraction Pages and pages of interiors, pages and pages of nothing but his thoughts about Gilberte or Mme Swann Why indeed.But then at last Fresh air and sunshine and the clear blue skies and seas of the Normandy coast I could breathe freely again I felt my mind opening like a flower in the sun So here s one good answer to that question in Proust, everything is so much intense than any other work When he describes the inside of the church at Combray, when he bathes in the colours of the famous hawthorn flowers, when he ceaselessly agonizes over Gilberte, questioning himself and his motives, questioning her and her motives, pondering over strategies to win her, when he describes his room at the hotel in Balbec, everything, everything is seen with a preternatural attention to detail, to associations, to images called up in his mind.And I have this theory that reading Proust is akin to meditation Those infamous sentences that require multiple readings, sometimes, just in order to work out what the subject is in the following subordinate clauses, they demand a certain kind of concentration No distractions silence, laptop shut down, mobile switched off And as you read, you develop a certain rhythm of thought, a deliberate slowing of pace, no skipping or skimming but a mindfulness, a quietening, a letting go of the world around you to find yourself one with the mind of an asthmatic man who lived than a hundred years ago And there are those mysterious moments where you feel your mind easing and stretching, new circuitry opening up, new dimensions glimpsed, a feeling of wholeness and integrity that results from a disintegration of self and your own petty concerns, that moment when you move beyond the text and discover new intellectual horizons, expansive, transformative, euphoric.I wonder if there s ever been a brain scan of someone on Proust

  9. says:

    Somehow, an improvement on Volume 1, particularly in the book s second half, a languid summer in Balbec whose self contained treatment of time and character reminds me of Magic Mountain Structurally, there are similarities to Swann s Way both feature an introspective and social beginning that segues into a linear narrative that, in many ways, could work as a self contained novel Though not nearly as funny as Swann in Love, the beach section benefits from spending its time in the head of our protagonist, whose neuroses and weaknesses are fascinating case studies for a modern reader and are interesting than Swann s simple charm And Marcel is funny too, in his subtle way I laughed when he described a hilly walk as a bit too vertical for my liking Suddenly, in short, you are finally in the novel You begin to read the book like a novel And it starts to come together.The characters of Balbec, both major the charming Saint Loup, the changeable Albertine and minor the chatty elevator boy, the Greek chorus of restaurant diners do wonderful work here, and the best moments, like when the narrator is surprised by Albertine on a meander, soar I was not as into Madame Swann at Home, though Odette is of course a great character, because Proust s repetitive, drawn out examination of the denouement of love can t help but seem sluggish In a way, the whole volume speaks to the novel s theme I like it better retroactively because I think of the great moments, those sections of such extreme beauty and observation, and forget that it meanders too much, and that at times I was frustrated This project stands apart from anything else that I ve read, for good and for bad.

  10. says:

    An Open Letter to Marcel Proust Sir, thank you for having written what must be known only as one of the greatest novels of the twentieth century a work of genius.Unfortunately, this letter cannot be a letter of exaltation, but a rather a letter of apology You deserve all the adulation which you have received these past 100 years since the first volume of your novel was published And the Proust group on goodreads is testimony to the faith which you have properly placed in your readers abilities to not settle for a simple book you had the faith to believe in what you were to write and to believe in your book finding readers who could luxuriate in what can only be called a masterful work.But for me, I can only apologize Our minds would seem to work upon different currents My literary experience has me ensconced in what was written after you wrote, in those works of fiction written by authors who must have learned an enormous amount of what you taught that fiction could be, what it could do It is a matter of finding myself at home in a postmodern aesthetic than a modern aesthetic.If I dare oversimplify the contention over modernism, I have to place myself in the camp with James Joyce than with yourself But that is merely a matter of my preference for one genius over another, just as one may prefer Plato over Aristotle or Kant over Hegel or Heidegger over Wittgenstein Whichever side one finds oneself, one can only believe that one is witnessing the heights to which thought can aspire I am entirely incapable of disparaging your novel or your prose or your aesthetic, but only find myself traveling down other roads of thought and experience.In the back of my mind I think it may be only a matter of language I have a small suspicion that your thought, your writing, is at home only in the French language, and despite the efforts of three generations of the Englishing of your novel, the English language itself may not be a comfortable abode for your experience Lacking masculine and feminine nouns and pronouns, perhaps your dependent clauses can only land as a clunk in English, so poorly adapted for this kind of subordination of one thought to another I don t know my French well enough to be certain of any such hypothesis, but it only leaves me wondering.I have heard complaints posited against your narrator Marcel, that he is self absorbed I find such a judgement about Marcel to be entirely out of order Much than obsessing about himself, your narrator is highly attuned to the impressions which other human beings make upon him and the impressions he makes upon other human beings, and this entire complex of our affect and of our effect upon others results in a profound attunement to the moral shape of what it s like to be a human being Marcel does not believe that he exists sufficient unto himself, but experiences himself at all times enmeshed with the experiences and recognitions of other people, people upon whom he depends for his very being Marcel finds his being at all times in and with others Perhaps the fiction we need today is a fiction which would translate Marcel s attunement to others into a twenty first century character that there is some gap between Marcel s world and our own, that the gap is too large for us to translate Marcel s world and his response to it into our own contemporary world of experience But perhaps rather it is precisely this gap which is what fascinates so much in reading your novel that it requires an imaginative and engaged reading by which one would find oneself as a reader dislocated into a strange world, and gaining from that distance a new insight into how we can shape ourselves as moral beings within our own world And indeed, the further I read into your novel the convinced I am that the very same difference in aesthetic preferences between us is at the very same time what links those postmodern novels I love so much with your very modernist novel, one of the three pinnacles of modernist noveling Perhaps the aesthetic difference between the modernist and the postmodernist novel is nothing about this or that characteristic, but is reflective merely of the different shape we find ourselves in living under different conditions and different pressures, different traumas Were you writing and reading today, would you find yourself attracted to a fiction like that of Joseph McElroy s I do feel you would And if I could recommend one book to you from my postmodernist library, it would indeed be his Women and Men therein I suspect you would find a kindred thinker, a questioning about how to bring ourselves to a respect of the gap between us as individuals, as ones and simultaneously as twos.I do not know at this time whether I will maintain my intended schedule to read your entire novel in 2013 I may luxuriate a bit and extend my reading into next year But I am convinced that, despite our differences, I will not add to those statistics found here on goodreads whereby your first volume has received over 12,000 ratings while this second volume already has a mere one fifth of that number I will not allow myself to be counted among those who have abandoned your work.I thank you for your time in reading this, and I do look forward to returning to your novel in the not too distant future.Sincerely,Nathan N.R Gaddis

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