Sunday, April 29, 2007

One Last Proust Bit

I'll offer up this one last tidbit from Proust and his incapacity to directly address his (or his narrator's) homosexuality, before I leave it alone. It's interesting, though. Check out this passage, where "Marcel" is describing his lover (well--not quite lover, but that's another subject) Albertine's naked body:

The two high little breasts were so round that they seemed not so much integral parts of her body as two fruits that had ripened there; and her belly (hiding 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) was closed, at the meeting of the thighs, by two curves as gentle, as restful, as cloistered as the horizon when the sun has disappeared.

OK, got that? The guy is looking at a naked woman and he just can't help thinking about penises. You have got to love the sleight of hand going on there--"Man, my girl is hot, and by the way, I find male genitalia utterly revolting. Just wanted you to know."

Book group colleague Brian Hall pointed out at today's meeting that the entire unlikely arrangement of Albertine living in Marcel's house with him would be much more plausible if she were a man--an observation that brings the whole thing into perspective, as her real-life counterpart (or, counterparts, as history appears to have it, as she is thought to be a composite of two of Proust's love interests) probably was.

I've come around a bit on ISOLT 5, however--like the other volumes, it is fascinating as an exploration of the nature of memory. (Another book grouper, Jack Goldman, refers the curious to philosopher Henri Bergson, who evidently knew Proust and married a member of his family, for more on this subject.) But I am a plot-and-character guy, and prefer to have narrative momentum be the delivery vehicle for this kind of rumination. I am curious to see if Proust steers it back to my neighborhood in the final two volumes.


Mark said...

Time Regained redeems every last ridiculous bit of what comes before.

(Hey John: Ed's friend Mark here.)

Anonymous said...

AWESOME. I am glad to hear it!

howdy mark...