***Group Read: Time Regained
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The guide says that this is a hard book to follow, because the timelines are all over the place. He starts the book as a young man, ends it as an old man, and he relates things from all parts of his life, so the timeline jumps around sometimes, and it gets confusing.
The part about Baron de Charlus in the house of ill repute was rather disturbing. I've read a little bit farther than that.
I think you will find that the end of this book ties some things together for you. There's a large party at the end of the book at the Princess Guermantes house, and most of the characters from this entire series are there, so you get to find out what happens to the rest of them. Swann and Mlle Villeparisis and Albertine (and one other main character) have died, but most of the other characters are there.
Mdm Verdurin (the one who ruined Charlus and split him from Morel) turns out to be the villain of the whole work. I think you can already see that in the first half of this book. One example: She's reading the newspaper about the sinking of the Lusitania, but she isn't too upset about all the deaths because she's been able to eat a croissant for her breakfast. And she doesn't even mourn the death of her husband, among her other faults. She ostracizes Brichot because his writing becomes successful. She's just horrid. Unfortunately, I don't even think she learns her lesson. I think she is rewarded for her treachery.
The guide has really helped me tie everything together in my mind as we go. Most of the characters in this book have been mentioned, even though briefly, in every book of the series. But sometimes those mentions are so brief that we forget. The guide has reminded me of all those details.
The guide also helped me realize how this series has themes. One theme, of course, is the passage of time and what it can do. Marcel lived through the war, and he saw time change the social order of his world. People like the Guermantes and Charlus and Swann, who were once so highly esteemed, slowly fall out of fashion and respect, to be replaced by the rising middle class of people, like Mdm. Verdurin - and even Odette. Much of that was due to the war, I think.
You will see at the end of this book, Marcel's inspiration for writing turns out to be St. Loup and Gilberte's daughter - don't know her name. Not that he loves her or anything, because I think he's old by then. But remember when he was little he used to take those long walks? They went in two opposite directions - one was Swann's Way (as Marcel called it) and the other was the Guermantes Way? Because Swann married Odette, he was ostracized from high society - for the most part. It did not seem to Marcel that the two "ways" would ever be united. But with the passage of time, Gilberte (who was a Swann) married St. Loup (who was a Guermantes) and their daughter represents the union of the two ways - Guermantes and Swann's way. So in the end, the two different paths become one.
St. Loup & Gilberte's daughter is the last of the Guermantes, meaning the once mighty and famous family will die out.
So I think those are some of the reasons Marcel was inspired to write this "story" of the changes he has seen brought by time.
I will try to read more today. I am way behind. I start out every book like this. Slow at first and then I can't stop as I go along. I don't know why I am that way.
I do think the combination of the two ways is interesting. I noticed when he was walking with Gilberte along those paths that she pointed out to him that they were connected.
I probably asked this before, but was Mdm Verdurin the one with the braying laugh from the first book? I guess that was foreshadowing.
I hope to get up to the party by the end of tomorrow.
You deserve an award for reading Proust at the same time as Tristram Shandy, lol!
I know what you mean about the St. Loup/Gilberte children. The guide said it was because Proust died before he finished editing the last couple volumes. Those mistakes probably would have been corrected if he had lived longer.
What do you mean about dead people coming back to life? Are you referring to Marcel's mistake about Gilberte's telegram? Or did Proust actually make a mistake like that? Refresh my memory, please. :)
I know that the timeline jumps around a lot, so I know sometimes Proust talks about the future death of a person, when they are actually still alive in his narrative.
I don't think Marcel actually ends up with anyone. I caught several remarks in this book and the last one about him having "some girl" in his rooms. So maybe he gets more lower class girls to come in to his room like he did with Albertine? And he did have that affair with Andree, and some of the other girls of the clan, I believe. But I don't think he will be having any more serious relationships.
I don't think you are behind at all! You are soon going to be ahead of me, lol...you usually always jump ahead of me at the end of the book. Once you get on a roll, you are unstoppable. :)
You know? Mdm Verdurin was probably the one with the braying laugh in the beginning, now that you mention it! I had forgotten about that. I think these later books had mentioned that she stopped laughing as hard as she used to. She just puts her head in her hands and shakes, as if she was convulsed with laughter.
I haven't been reading as much lately since I've been helping my friend get ready for her dad's funeral. And now tomorrow we take our first day of classes for adoption. I will read more tomorrow if my brain isn't too tired.
I had not realized that Proust died before finishing his editing. That explains it for sure. I think it is interesting how he occasionally makes fun of himself as an author.
I seem always to start out really slowly. Then as I get going, I am totally hooked and can't stop reading. But I think tomorrow I will stop right at the party since I am also trying to make progress with TS. I think that I like the Proust better, but TS is easier to read (although really strange).
By the way, I spoke to my daughter today and she is going to bring me the first two Trollope books in mid-October. Will that be soon enough?
Really, it seems to me that every character in the book is flawed. I guess that is what makes it all so interesting. Just throw them all together and see what happens! :) I thought the part about Charlus wanting to kill Morel just totally bizarre. I don't have any idea where that came from! Just think at the beginning of these books there were no cars and no telephones. Now there are planes and zeppelins.
The Charlus plot was indeed bizarre - and quite ahead of its time. That's the kind of thing I'd expect to find in some of today's literature. Not way back then.
Maybe it was something about France of that time. I think the guide said that Paris in those days was a hotbed of undercover sexual activity. That might explain it. I've read a lot of English literature from a similar time period and these subjects are usually glossed over or alluded to, but not described in detail. It could be the English culture, too. They have usually been more reserved about those matters.
Yes, the passage of time was remarkable in reading these novels. I remember in an earlier volume Proust was talking about Odette's luxurious dresses, and how no one dresses like that anymore. He definitely recorded the passage of time, like no one else I've ever read.
I was bummed about St. Loup dying, but I did expect it because of the guide. He was seriously flawed, but at the same time he really seemed to care, you know?
The guide says that Marcel's grandmother is the ONLY morally flawless person in these novels. Even Marcel's mother has flaws, but the grandmother is always presented on a pedestal, so to speak. Everyone else has some major issues, lol...
Yes, October is fine for Trollope. As far as I know right now. I suppose we could have a child placed with us in October, but it's a long shot. So October looks good to me. :)
I probably won't get to read too much today either. I have so much that I need to accomplish today. I am kind of hoping to finish this month.
We don't have any adoption classes until September, but the adoption subject has been a bit of a distraction in my mind these days! I'm not as focused as I used to be.
I'm training my replacement at work this week, and helping with the funeral this weekend, so I completely understand.
A minute freed from the order of time has re-created in us, to feel it, the man freed from the order of time.
Impressions such as those to which I wished to give permanence could not but vanish at the touch of a direct enjoyment which had been powerless to engender them. The only way to savour them more fully was to try to get to know them more completely in the medium in which they existed, that is to say within myself, to try to make them translucid even to their very depths. I had not known pleasure at Balbec any more than I had known pleasure when I lived with Albertine, for the pleasure of living with her had been perceptible to me only in retrospect.
I have to go to Church. I have been thinking of you this weekend, Angela.
And I was able to see myself, as though in the first truthful mirror which I had ever encountered, reflected in the eyes of old people, still young in their own opinion as I in mine, who, when I spoke of 'an old man like myself' in the hope of being contradicted, showed in their answering looks, which saw me not as they saw themselves but as I saw them, not a glimmer of protest.
I read with interest the part about the American who could not understand the genealogies of all the aristocratic families.
I am hoping to finish either tomorrow or Wednesday.
I hope that all is well with you. I know it was a difficult weekend. Thanks so much for reading this really long work all the way to the bitter end with me. If not for you, I do not think I would ever have finished.
I look forward to seeing what you think of the party and Marcel's thoughts on writing this long work.
I'm about 60% done. He got inside the library and then went off into a dialog about being creative, being a writer, and I'm still in the middle of the dialog. He hasn't actually met anyone yet, except Charlus and Jupien taking a walk.
I'm not sure when I'll finish. Hopefully soon. Thanks for thinking of me!
I'm off to check my thread while the generator is still running...