Proust: Chapter 1 - delta_november
Jul. 19th, 2008
08:17 pm - Proust: Chapter 1
I have now finished the first chapter of Proust's third novel The Guermantes Way. It is 357 pages long. 357 pages with no structural division beyond the paragraph. Just an unrelenting stream of words.
cristalia posts about priests, and so here is Proust's take:
"It was tacitly agreed that I had not noticed that he was spying on me. With priests as with alienists, there is always an element of the examining magistrate. Besides, what friend is there, however dear to us, in whose past as in ours there has not been some such episode which we find it more convenient to believe that he must have forgotten?"
-- Proust, Marcel, The Guermantes Way, p 352.
I'm not sure how I feel about that last sentence. Being a big fan of communication, it seems unwise to dance around things like that. Much better to acknowledge the episode, to forgive, and to move on.
"For several nights now my father, my grandfather and one of our cousins had been keeping vigil and no longer left the house. Their continuous devotion ended by assuming a mask of indifference, and their interminable enforced idleness around this deathbed made them indulge in the sort of small talk that is an inseparable accompaniment of prolonged confinement in a railway carriage."
-- Ibid, p 353.
The end of the chapter is an interesting look at palliative care traditions from a hundred years ago. I have nothing really profound to say about that, save that it is different from the traditions of today. But that last sentence really rings true for me. When sitting up with an unconscious person in their last days, just what do you say? I vividly remember having a conversation in these circumstances with my father concerning limited-slip differentials -- this passes for small talk amongst us technical types.
And now, onwards! Chapter two is only 265 pages long, and concludes this novel. Then the second novel in this volume, Cities of the Plain, is divided into a whole four chapters for a total of 514 pages. And then I shall be done this hateful tome and can read something else.