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Castorboy



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
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Location: Castor Bay Auckland NZ

PostPosted: Sat May 14, 2011 8:26 am    Post subject:  Reply with quote

Evie wrote:
I do think, in fact, that the Kindle experience didn't help...so I have ordered a copy of the book in old-fashioned paper format!  The Kindle will have its uses, but as a reading experience to look forward to, I still long for a book.

I feel I should use the new e-book formats but am too set in my ways this year.
As for Proust there is so much of interest on what seems like every page that I would guess I am getting as much pleasure as you are from AMS.


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TheRejectAmidHair



Joined: 19 Nov 2008
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Location: Staines, Middlesex

PostPosted: Sat May 14, 2011 9:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am sure that, as Mike A says, Kindle will eventually replace paper books, but for people of my generation - or perhaps it's just me? - I 'm too old and set in my ways to change. I don't know why reading a paper book should give me greater satsfaction, but it does. I cannot imaginne reading an entire novel from a screen.

It's fascinating reading your posts on proust, but one thing I remember as i was reading it is that Icouldn't always figure out the narrator's age: I had to try to infer it from the way the narrator reacts to different things around him, and I didn't always find that easy. Is his age actually specified anywhere? I really can't remember!

That long digression about Swann's obsession with Odette, I remember, struck me as very funny at the time: after all, here was Swann, an erudite, wealthy man, a man of the world, etc etc, and this manstarts behaving like a lovesick adolescent. But in retrospect, there is something sinister about it as well: the theme of sexual obsession seems to keep returning in different keys. I had forgotten until you pointed it out that immediately after the section about Swann and Odette, the theme returns in a surprising key with young Marcel. There seems to be such key changes throughout the work.



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Castorboy



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
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Location: Castor Bay Auckland NZ

PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2011 5:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not just his age but his full name is not specified so far.
I wonder if his family were quite wealthy and influential and possibly distantly related to the Guermantes' and that Proust is keeping quiet on these facts till later in the series.
There are a few clues to his age though.
Gilberte and Marcel are of an age so when the Dreyfus case came at a period later than Marcel's first visit to the Swanns' house, if we can guess how long a period that is, that will be useful in determining his age.
As a system analyst you would have a better idea than me but I'll make a guess and say It has to be less than a decade but more than a few years so let's say four to eight years.
The Dreyfus case was 1894 so we are back to 1886 to 1890 for the visit. Now the Marquis de Norpois remembers being introduced to the 14 or 15 year old daughter of the Swanns' in one of those years. Might it might be possible to pinpoint the year from this extract:

M.de Norpois.... was actually an ambassador on the 16th May 1877 when there was a constitutional crisis... he had since been several times chosen to represent France on special missions – even as Controller of the Public Debt in Egypt – by Radical cabinets under which a simple bourgeois reactionary would have declined to serve.

My guess is that special missions and a post as a Controller could take eight years plus two years back in France serving on a Commission with Marcel's father brings me to 1887 as the year he met Gilberte.
That makes it 1872 or 1873 as her birth year and for Marcel – very close, of course, to his real birthday.

And here is something intriguing about Gilberte's mother.
Near the end of Place-Names: The Name Marcel is walking through the Bois de Boulogne hoping once again to see Odette pass by when he overhears two men talking and one says that he remembers sleeping with her on the day the President of France  Patrice de Mac-Mahon, resigned on 30 January 1879.
Which seems to be confirmation that she was still a courtesan (with Swann's complicity?) after she married.

H, you write the theme of sexual obsession seems to keep returning in different keys. Do I understand correctly that key in this context means guises, levels, situations, ways? We agree on the obsession all right but I am obviously missing some interpretation or other.


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TheRejectAmidHair



Joined: 19 Nov 2008
Posts: 3864


Location: Staines, Middlesex

PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2011 11:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Castorboy wrote:
H, you write the theme of sexual obsession seems to keep returning in different keys. Do I understand correctly that key in this context means guises, levels, situations, ways? We agree on the obsession all right but I am obviously missing some interpretation or other.


Yes, all of that, I think, and perhaps more: it's also the tone of voice of the narration. The image of musical keys occurred to me from something you'd said in an earlier post:

With his active imagination [the narrator] mirrors the agonies of love that Charles suffered, though on a minor scale, but still very painful to a young boy.

There does seem to be a musical aspect in this, as the same theme appears and re-appears, but transformed. Swann's pangs of jealously struck me as faintly comic: there was even a scene straight out of farce where Swann climbs up a ladder, Basil Fawlty style, to peer into a window. The idea of an aesthete and sophisticate reduced to such a level cannot be but funny. However, in such a level of obsession, there are also at least seeds of the sinister, and that comes back in full force, i think, in the later novel The Captive, in which the sexual jealousy and obsession becomes oppressive and deeply sinister.

When I was reading it, I didn't try to knit together the various references to external events to create a timeline: I tried to infer Marcel's age from his perceptions, and I didn't always find it easy. It is extraordinary, given the length and scope of the work, just how much is not stated directly that one might imagine would be basic information.



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Castorboy



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
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Location: Castor Bay Auckland NZ

PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2011 8:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Is this for Saturday the 21st http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/featu...cooktheperfect/perfect/madeleines


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Evie
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Joined: 24 Oct 2008
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Location: Kenilworth, Warwickshire, UK

PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2011 10:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ooh, thanks,  Castorboy - would love to have a go at those.  Waitrose sell the Bonne Maman ones, which are delicious, but if I can get the moulds, they look quite easy to make.

I now have a copy of the book, rather than my Kindle version, and seem to be overcoming my reader's block, so hope to catch up with you and also post some thoughts before too much longer!  As I have the Scott Moncrieff version on my Kindle, I bought the new translation in book form, so I can compare them.  Thanks so much for your posts, and sorry I have left you to fend for yourself here despite my early enthusiasm!


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Castorboy



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
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Location: Castor Bay Auckland NZ

PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2011 11:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Evie wrote:
I now have a copy of the book, rather than my Kindle version, and seem to be overcoming my reader's block, so hope to catch up with you and also post some thoughts before too much longer!  As I have the Scott Moncrieff version on my Kindle, I bought the new translation in book form, so I can compare them.  Thanks so much for your posts, and sorry I have left you to fend for yourself here despite my early enthusiasm!

Excellent news - I really need your thoughts on a novel which has really caught my imagination. I had this idea that he would be too difficult to understand, which at times he is - this is definitely a re-read not once but a multiple read novel - and yet once I got used to the flow of his words it has become an absolute pleasure. Although the one I am reading has been augmented by Terence Kilmartin I trust any changes in the text will be minor.


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Castorboy



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
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Location: Castor Bay Auckland NZ

PostPosted: Sat May 21, 2011 5:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't think Conan Doyle would have anticipated that so many biographies of Sherlock Holmes would have been concocted from the limited details of his life and the unrecorded cases mentioned in the canon. I am guessing that not many fictional characters can inspire such affection and dedication that enthusiasts would want to supply more details that a author has left out or not thought important enough to include at the time.
In this spirit of affection I would like to give my speculations on a small detail in a novel that is dominating my reading, and will continue to do so, for the rest of the year.      

There is something not quite convincing about Marcel's obsessional love for Gilberte. His life has been restricted in that he is an only child, sickly at that, his hobby has been reading novels especially by Bergotte and he aspires to be a writer. He doesn't keep a diary, there is no mention of attendance at a school and his one friend is the socially awkward Bloch. Then at a young age, unspecified, he sees a girl (as it happens, Gilberte) in Combray and focusses on her as someone of his own age to love. Fair enough so far. Move forward ten years, still no friends, and then by accident he meets her in the Champs-Elysees and a friendship ensues. Every day they meet at the same time and he admits to himself that he loves her even when she doesn't say the same to him. In fact she boasts that she knows other boys whom she prefers but it still doesn't deter Marcel from metaphorically torturing himself over her disregard for his passion.

Is it because he is a typical loner who has just never had the chance to mix with people of his own age and share the same fears and joys of the growing up process? And would he really be able to explain his obsession by using words with such sophistry?  

So is there a link to the reason why Charles and Marcel's views of love, despite their different ages, are similar?
I wonder if that link can be found in the childhood reading of Marcel's. Suppose Charles unburdened his heart to his friend Bergotte, an ambitious novelist, on the agonies he is experiencing in his love life with Odette. Bergotte uses the material for a novel and makes the man's age much younger than Swann's in order to protect Swann's reputation. Ten years later Marcel, who had been told by Charles in Combray that Bergotte takes Gilberte to visit old towns and castles, remembers the novel, thinks it shows him how young people in love behave and feel so that when he meets Gilberte again he convinces himself that he must behave and feel in almost the same way towards her.

A whimsical solution and the more I read about the farcical antics of Swann whose thoughts and actions seem to be copied by the younger Marcel the more I think of Malvolio and Himadri's suggestion that he should be played by a younger man. Why not indeed.

At the beginning of the novel Marcel mentions seeing Mme Swann and a man in a suit of linen 'ducks' in Combray. Now I find that Odette badgered Swann for years to marry her and even stopped his contact with Gilberte unless he did so. Am I to treat Marcel as an unreliable narrator or accept that he was told a fib by his parents to cover the fact that Charles and Odette were not married at that particular time? I want to believe the latter; the alternative is that Marcel's account of his anguish over Gilberte could be suspect!


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TheRejectAmidHair



Joined: 19 Nov 2008
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PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2011 1:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's strange, isn't it, that although we are taken into the narrator's mind, and although the contents of the narrator's mind are described in such painstaking detail, there is so much we do not know about him! Proust tells us so much that other novelists wouldn't bother with, but at the same time, he holds back so much that any other novelist would, I think, have given us. I remember it bothering me that at no stage are we told the narrator's age: we have to figure that out for ourselves, and, given thatthe narrative covers a number of decades, this is not always easy. Indeed, we aren't even sure of the narrator's name (Proust tells us at one point that we may call him Marcel). Under the circumstances, your conjectures are not merely reasonable, they seem a lot more likelythan some of the things conjectured about Holmes & Watson!

And incidentally, I still do not know what precisely to make of that long narrative section in the first novel describing Sann in love. It's the only part of the section that doesn't involve Marcel. Is it still Marcel who is narrating this passage? if so, how can he know all this? If not, who is the narrator who has taken over for this section? It's all most confusing!



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Castorboy



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
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Location: Castor Bay Auckland NZ

PostPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2011 10:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's no good - I just have to read Paintings in Proust the beautifully produced book described by MikeH on his blog. The author Eric Karpeles has listed all the paintings mentioned by name along with others appropriate to a sequence in the novel. I was planning to wait till I had read the whole novel but as it is a library edition in three parts by the time I reached the end I would have to take them all out again! So now I am embarking on a mini art appreciation course which is doubling my enjoyment of Proust.



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