12.24.2009

Notes on Week 15

But in my dreams of Combray (like those architects, pupils of Viollet-le-Duc, who, fancying that they can detect, beneath a Renaissance rood-loft and an eighteenth-century altar, traces of a Norman choir, restore the whole church to the state in which it probably was in the twelfth century) I leave not a stone of the modern edifice standing, I pierce through it and ’restore’ the Rue des Perchamps. 
Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc (January 27, 1814 – September 17, 1879) was a French architect and theorist, famous for his "restorations" of medieval buildings. Born in Paris, he was as central a figure in the Gothic Revival in France as he was in the public discourse on "honesty" in architecture, which eventually transcended all revival styles, to inform the emerging spirit of Modernism.

 Steeples at Martinville
   At a bend in the road I experienced, suddenly, that special pleasure, which bore no resemblance to any other, when I caught sight of the twin steeples of Martinville, on which the setting sun was playing, while the movement of the carriage and the windings of the road seemed to keep them continually changing their position; and then of a third steeple, that of Vieuxvicq, which, although separated from them by a hill and a valley, and rising from rather higher ground in the distance, appeared none the less to be standing by their side.
    In ascertaining and noting the shape of their spires, the changes of aspect, the sunny warmth of their surfaces, I felt that I was not penetrating to the full depth of my impression, that something more lay behind that mobility, that luminosity, something which they seemed at once to contain and to conceal.

More views at the Ecclesiastical Proust Archive (currently offline)  {to search, enter Martinville for text + steeples for image properties}

Photo of Water-lillies on the Vivonne

I haven't yet found any analysis of the unnamed fisherman in the straw hat.  {{The Pont-Vieux led to a tow-path which, at this point, would be overhung in summer by the bluish foliage of a hazel, under which a fisherman in a straw hat seemed to have taken root. At Combray, where I knew everyone, and could always detect the blacksmith or grocer’s boy through his disguise of a beadle’s uniform or chorister’s surplice, this fisherman was the only person whom I was never able to identify. He must have known my family, for he used to raise his hat when we passed; and then I would always be just on the point of asking his name, when some one would make a sign to me to be quiet, or I would frighten the fish. }}

So.  Proust wrote Impressions on Riding in an Automobile about a car trip to Caen, where he saw the steeples shifting at Saint-Etienne & Saint-Pierre.  The pertinent part of the article later became the boy Marcel's writing fragment, the one he jots down in the carriage. See the page 437 preview in Carter's biography at this link. (Scroll down).

More analysis of the Martinville fragment in this learned essay (Ruskin, Proust, and the Art of Failure). (Use Ctrl F to find the word "Martinville").

12.10.2009

Notes on Week 14: An Image of an Image


A question at tonight's meeting: What is a monstrance? A very beautiful one is in the photo to the left.
A monstrance is the vessel used in the Roman Catholic, Old Catholic, Anglican, and Lutheran Churches to display the consecrated Eucharistic Host.
Proust uses it in a lovely passage, just when M. takes shelter from the rain at the Roussainville church after comparing the country girl of his  dreams to the sculptures on the church, reflecting the physical types of the local people:
"Before our eyes, in the distance, a promised or an accursed land, Roussainville, within whose walls I had never penetrated, Roussainville was now, when the rain had ceased for us, still being chastised, like a village in the Old Testament, by all the innumerable spears and arrows of the storm, which beat down obliquely upon the dwellings of its inhabitants, or else had already received the forgiveness of the Almighty, Who had restored to it the light of His sun, which fell upon it in rays of uneven length, like the rays of a monstrance upon an altar."
We also wondered about the word sadism in referring to Mlle. Vinteuil and her friend:
It was true that in all Mlle. Vinteuil’s actions the appearance of evil was so strong and so consistent that it would have been hard to find it exhibited in such completeness save in what is nowadays called a ’sadist’; it is behind the footlights of a Paris theatre, and not under the homely lamp of an actual country house, that one expects to see a girl leading her friend on to spit upon the portrait of a father who has lived and died for nothing and no one but herself; and when we find in real life a desire for melodramatic effect, it is generally the ’sadistic’ instinct responsible for it.  
It is possible that, without being in the least inclined towards ’sadism,’ a girl might have shown the same outrageous cruelty as Mlle. Vinteuil in desecrating the memory and defying the wishes of her dead father, but she would not have given them deliberate expression in an act so crude in its symbolism, so lacking in subtlety....  
But, appearances apart, in Mlle. Vinteuil’s soul, at least in the earlier stages, the evil element was probably not unmixed. A ’sadist’ of her kind is an artist in evil, which a wholly wicked person could not be, for in that case the evil would not have been external, it would have seemed quite natural to her, and would not even have been distinguishable from herself; and as for virtue, respect for the dead, filial obedience, since she would never have practised the cult of these things, she would take no impious delight in their profanation. ’Sadists’ of Mlle. Vinteuil’s sort are creatures so purely sentimental, so virtuous by nature, that even sensual pleasure appears to them as something bad, a privilege reserved for the wicked. And when they allow themselves for a moment to enjoy it, they endeavour to impersonate, to assume all the outward appearance of wicked people, for themselves and their partners in guilt, so as to gain the momentary illusion of having escaped beyond the control of their own gentle and scrupulous natures into the inhuman world of pleasure. And I could understand how she must have longed for such an escape when I realised that it was impossible for her to effect it. At the moment when she wished to be thought the very antithesis of her father, what she at once suggested to me were the mannerisms, in thought and speech, of the poor old music-master... 
It was not evil that gave her the idea of pleasure, that seemed to her attractive; it was pleasure, rather, that seemed evil. And as, every time that she indulged in it, pleasure came to her attended by evil thoughts such as, ordinarily, had no place in her virtuous mind, she came at length to see in pleasure itself something diabolical, to identify it with Evil...
Perhaps she would not have thought of wickedness as a state so rare, so abnormal, so exotic, one which it was so refreshing to visit, had she been able to distinguish in herself, as in all her fellow-men and women, that indifference to the sufferings which they cause which, whatever names else be given it, is the one true, terrible and lasting form of cruelty. (Emphasis added) 

So after winning us over to his argument that Mlle Vinteuil was not truly sadistic (if she were inherently evil, she would not have been able to separate her actions from her self; she was just being melodramatic), he implies that true cruel sadists are indifferent to the sufferings they cause. As always for Proust, love hurts.

Pages for December 2009

(Enright paging; yours may differ) 
Week 13 -- 12/3
Dawn of love for Gilberte: glamour of the name “Swann” (202; cf. 586). Farewell to the hawthorns (204). Mlle Vinteuil’s friend comes to Montjouvain (206). M. Vinteuil’s sorrow (208). The rain (211). The porch of Saint-André-des-Champs, Françoise and Théodore (211). Death of Aunt Léonie; Françoise’s wild grief (215). Exultation in the solitude of autumn (218). Disharmony between our feelings and their habitual expression (218). “The same emotions do not float spring up simultaneously in everyone” (219). Stirrings of desire (219). The little closet smelling of orris-root (222; cf. 14).

Week 14 -- 12/10
Scene of sadism at Montjouvain (224).

Week 15 -- 12/10 -- 1/7   (Finishing Combray)
The Guermantes Way. River landscape: the Vivonne (235); the water-lilies (238). The Guermantes; Geneviève de Brabant “the ancestress of the Guermantes family” (242). Daydreams & discouragement of a future writer (243). The Duchesse de Guermantes in the chapel of Gilbert the Bad (246). The secrets hidden behind shapes, scents and colors (252). The steeples of Martinville; first joyful experience of literary creation (254). Transition from joy to sadness (257). Does reality take shape in the memory alone? (260).
Awakenings (262; refers back to p.1).

12.08.2009

Hard to Read Proust?

Nah! Not after you read this lovely essay by Marcelle (get it?) Clements on how to do it. Many thanks to Virginia for unearthing this inspiring gem at Oprah's. It begins:
"Some readers are lucky; they fall in love with Proust on page one and enter a sort of rapture that transports them through all six volumes of In Search of Lost Time. Others struggle, resist, quit in a huff. My guess is that many readers are alternately smitten and outraged by Proust's prose style, especially in the opening pages, when we are in the dark—or rather, in a room where the drapes are drawn—and the only thing we can figure out with any certitude is that the narrator is unable to get to sleep and that this reminds him of many other sleepless nights...."
The essay continues here, on Oprah's website.  Enjoy. And thank you again, VA!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
But wait! There's more!  Here's the late, great Russell Baker making a case that reading Proust is like climbing Mount Everest....(no way)
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Here's someone else (LanguageHat) who finished reading it.

11.18.2009

Notes on week 12

 (PAGES KEY TO ENRIGHT; yours may differ). 
Curé's view from the bell-tower:



Swann’s (or the Méséglise) way and the Guermantes way (188).  View over the plain (189). 
The hawthorn lane (193).
    Apparition of Gilberte (197). 
    The lady in white and the man in white “ducks” (Mme Swann and M. de Charlus) (199).
    General Combray photos....
    This is really sort of fun. 
    Go to  Audio visit in French to the family home.  Then...
    This is a map of Illiers-Combray. Move your cursor off the map to make the AFFICHER menu disappear.
    • Click TOURISME.  Three little photos appear; Tante Léonie's house & Swann's garden
    • Click one of the photos. A box appears.
    • Click +infos. A detail page with audio controls appears.
    • Click Play (the green/white arrow) & despair that your accent isn't better.  When they say "aubépines" (oh-bay-peen), they're talking about the hawthorns.
    • At the end, go to the upper right corner of the detail page and click the red X circle to close down.
    You're back at the Combray map. Repeat for the other sites (photos).  You can zoom in for closer mapping or switch to satellite view.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 
    En effet c’est en 1970 que la ville d’Illiers associe le nom de Combray, en hommage à l’œuvre de Proust dans laquelle il évoque la ville sous le nom de Combray. C’est un fait rare en France que le nom d’une ville soit changé de par l’influence d’une œuvre.  
    It’s been since 1970 that the town of Illiers attached the name of Combray, in homage to Proust’s work in which he evoked the town under the name Combray.  It’s a rare occurrence in France that the name of a town is changed by the influence of such work.
    (Remember the curé and his knowledge of the history of town names!)

    11.13.2009

    Notes on week 11

    (PAGES KEY TO ENRIGHT EDITION).  There's a slight section break at the end here... some editions have a blank line, others asterisks, but the endpoint will be obvious.
     

    Aunt Léonie and Louis XIV (165). The long, complex, fantabulous sentence. Parsing to come.
    M. Legrandin’s strange behavior (166-186). Snobby in so many ways, we noticed all of them!

    Also... on the subject of hawthorns, thanks to Virginia for these links...

    This one has great photos at the bottom of the page of the flower & fruit.. 
    http://www.controverscial.com/Hawthorn.htm

    This one is from a homeopathic point of view.... something Proust might have known since his father was a doctor, even though heart problems weren't part of his pattern.  http://www.christopherhobbs.com/website/library/articles/article_files/hawthorn_01.html

    Now then, in the French, he names the tree/hedge "aubépine", so I'm wondering if it's a slightly different species. And pine" by itself is "thorn." 

    So from these two items, there seems to be less of a connection with "crown of thorns" in a religious sense (although never far away) and more of a connection to heart, love, May, spring, sensuality.  But also shelter... .for animals, insects, and voyeurs!

    11.11.2009

    FRANCE: A la Recherche de Marcel Proust

    FRANCE: A la Recherche de Marcel Proust

    What it's like in Illiers-Combray. Time Magazine, 1971

    11.06.2009

    Notes on week 10

    • The kitchen-maid’s confinement:: humor
    • Aunt Léonie’s nightmare: we hear what she dreams, but M is "trapped" in the doorway, in a young voyeuristic moment
    • Saturday lunches: country habits & family humor 
    • The hawthorns on the altar in Combray church: see hawthorne links; triple threat sensory metaphor, with sexual innuendo for these
    • M. Vinteuil: introduction to a semi-important character; he is a composer, we'll hear more of him, it's his "petite phrase" that tugs at Swann's heart
    • His “boyish-looking” daughter: foreshadowing; first hint of lesbian character; more of her later & throughout the novel
    • Walks around Combray by moonlight: beautiful descriptions, sense of place, and M's mother/father psychodynamic in action (humorous & loving)

    Hawthorns in week 10


    Hawthorns in church: 
    "When, before turning to leave the church, I made a genuflection before the altar, I felt suddenly, as I rose again, a bitter-sweet fragrance of almonds steal towards me from the hawthorn-blossom, and I then noticed that on the flowers themselves were little spots of a creamier colour, in which I imagined that this fragrance must lie concealed, as the taste of an almond cake lay in the burned parts, or the sweetness of Mile. Vinteuil’s cheeks beneath their freckles. Despite the heavy, motionless silence of the hawthorns, these gusts of fragrance came to me like the murmuring of an intense vitality, with which the whole altar was quivering like a roadside hedge explored by living antennae, of which I was reminded by seeing some stamens, almost red in colour, which seemed to have kept the springtime virulence, the irritant power of stinging insects now transmuted into flowers."
    Also... on the subject of hawthorns, thanks to Virginia for these links...




    Hedge, flower & fruit..
     http://www.controverscial.com/Hawthorn.htm

    This one is from a homeopathic point of view.... something Proust might have known since his father was a doctor, even though heart problems weren't part of his pattern.
    http://www.christopherhobbs.com/website/library/articles/article_files/hawthorn_01.html

    Now then, in the French, he names the tree/hedge "aubépine", so I'm wondering if it's a slightly different species. And pine" by itself is "thorn." 

    So from these two items, there seems to be less of a connection with "crown of thorns" in a religious sense (although never far away) and more of a connection to heart, love, May, spring, sensuality.  But also shelter... .for aniimals, insects, and voyeurs!

    11.01.2009

    Discussion questions

    • The renowned translator of Proust, C. K. Scott Moncrieff, originally grouped the opening section of In Search of Lost Time under the title "The Overture," which includes two famous passages, the good-night kiss and the evocative taste of the madeleine. Does this seem apt? If so, how might this fifty-odd page beginning prefigure what will transpire later? What would you expect to follow, given that an overture usually introduces the main themes of a musical work? What does it suggest about Proust's conception of literature and music?
    • The episode of the good night kiss strikes some readers as odd or contradictory: the Narrator's need for a kiss seems almost infantile, while his power of observation seems extraordinarily precocious. Considering that he is sent to bed at eight o'clock, how old do you think the Narrator is? Is it significant that his father suggests the Narrator be given the kiss he craves, whereas his mother is reluctant, saying "We mustn't let the child get into the habit . . ."? Is the fact that the Narrator succeeds in getting the kiss he wants a good thing or a bad thing? Why?
    • "The whole of Proust's world comes out of a teacup," observed Samuel Beckett. Indeed the episode of the madeleine dipped in tea is the first (and most famous) of numerous instances of "involuntary memory" in the novel. A recognized psychological phenomenon triggered by smells, tastes, or sounds, involuntary memory vividly reproduces emotions, sensations, or images from the past. Why do you think readers and critics universally consider this scene to be pivotal? What does the Narrator think about the experience of involuntary memory? What might its function be in the scheme of In Search of Lost Time?
    • In "Combray" we are introduced to the Narrator's family, their household, and their country home. Since Paris is the true heart of upper-class France, why do you think Proust chose to begin In Search of Lost Time elsewhere? What do we learn from the Narrator's description of his family's life and habits? Is the household dominated by men or by women? Does the Narrator's account seem accurate, or is it colored by his own ideas and preoccupations?
    • Swann's Way and the Guermantes Way are presented as mutually exclusive choices for promenades, with Swann's Way given primacy of place at the novel's outset. Where, metaphorically speaking, does Swann's Way seem to lead? What are the aesthetic signposts and milestones the Narrator points out? What does the landscape around Combray represent?
    • "I want my work to be a sort of cathedral in literature, " Proust once said. In his description of the area around Combray - and in many other places in the novel - the Narrator describes churches, and particularly steeples. Indeed, Howard Moss cites the steeple as one of Proust's most important symbols. In religious architecture, the steeple represents man's aspiration toward God, and by inference toward Art, the Proustian religion. What else might it suggest? Does it have a counterpart in nature?
    • Proust and the Narrator share an appreciation of gardens and flowers - Proust himself was eager to visit Monet's celebrated garden - and in a sense, all Combray can be seen as a garden. What associations does this evoke? How does the Narrator respond to natural beauty? What do flowers mean to him? How do we know?
    • Proust's work is filled with "doubling" - the most obvious being the identification of the author with a fictional self of the same name but with somewhat different characteristics. Is Swann a double of the Narrator? What qualities do they share? In what ways do they seem different? What is the importance of the fact that Swann is a Jew?
    • While writing In Search of Lost Time, Proust often rummaged through his vast photographic collection of Belle Époque luminaries as a means of stimulating his memory. Indeed, the Baron de Charlus, in Within a Budding Grove, speaks of the special importance of photographs in preserving an unsullied moment of time past, before it has been altered by the present. Discuss how Proust used photographs in the story - just as he exploited the technology of trains, cars, and airplanes - as symbols of passing time.
    • In his landmark essay on Proust, Edmund Wilson praises the broad Dickensian humor and extravagant satire that animate vast sections of In Search of Lost Time, yet he goes on to call it "one of the gloomiest books ever written." Can you reconcile Wilson's remarks?
    • Many crucial sexual scenes in Proust are witnessed through the "lenses" of windows, which become a commanding metaphor in the novel. Consider how Proust first introduces the window device by way of the magic lantern slides in Marcel's bedroom at Combray. How are windows analogous to Proust's notion of viewing life through a telescope, an instrument that propels images through dimensions of both space and time?
    • Critic Barbara Bucknall maintains that "no Proustian lover really cares at all for his beloved's feelings." Is this true? Would the Narrator agree? Would the author? Are there any happy or satisfied couples in In Search of Lost Time? Or is love in Proust inevitably a prelude to misunderstanding?
    • Louis Auchincloss questions the use of a fictional first person named "Marcel," who is, but isn't, Proust. Marcel claims that he is neither a snob nor a homosexual, yet he is obsessed with both. Would Proust have strengthened Marcel's viewpoint by making it that of the young social climber that he himself so clearly was? Did he enhance or detract from Marcel's credibility by casting him as one of the few heterosexuals in the book? Does it matter that Marcel regards "inversion" as a dangerous vice? Did Proust?
    • A madeleine dipped into a cup of tea first impelled Proust into the "remembrance of things past." Though Proust was a gourmet in his youth, in the final years of his life he subsisted mainly on fillets of sole, chicken, fried potatoes, ice cream, cakes, fruit, and iced beer. Consider how food and culinary happenings - from meals at the restaurant in the Grand Hotel in Balbec to dinners at La Raspelière and the Guermantes's in Paris - form an integral part of the work.
    • Another emblematic theme involves the recurring "little phrase" of music by Vinteuil that catches the ear of Swann at the Verdurin's salon and steals into his life. How do Vinteuil's compositions stir both Swann and the Narrator? In Proust's scheme of things, is music a higher art than painting or writing because it can produce involuntary memories? How does involuntary memory affect writing and painting? Is it unrelated to art except as a necessary catalyst?
    • Time is a central concern for Proust, appearing first in the title and last as the final word of the novel. What is his vision of the past? Does he have a vision of the present? The future? Can the Narrator be said to be living in the past? Is he like the White Queen in Through the Looking-Glass, with "jam tomorrow and jam yesterday - but never jam today"?

    Pages for November 2009

    (Enright paging; yours may differ) 
    Week 10
    The kitchen-maid’s confinement (151). Aunt Léonie’s nightmare (152). Saturday lunches (154).The hawthorns on the altar in Combray church (155). M. Vinteuil (155). His “boyish-looking” daughter (157). Walks around Combray by moonlight (159).

    Week 11
    Aunt Léonie and Louis XIV (165).  M. Legrandin’s strange behavior (166-186).

    Week 12 -- 11/19
    Swann’s (or the Méséglise) way and the Guermantes way (188).  Swann’s Way. View over the plain (189).
    The lilacs of Tansonville (190).   The hawthorn lane (193).  Apparition of Gilberte (197). The lady in white and the man in white “ducks” (Mme Swann and M. de Charlus) (199).

    Week 13 -- 12/3

    Dawn of love for Gilberte: glamour of the name “Swann” (202; cf. 586). Farewell to the hawthorns (204). Mlle Vinteuil’s friend comes to Montjouvain (206). M. Vinteuil’s sorrow (208). The rain (211). The porch of Saint-André-des-Champs, Françoise and Théodore (211). Death of Aunt Léonie; Françoise’s wild grief (215). Exultation in the solitude of autumn (218). Disharmony between our feelings and their habitual expression (218). “The same emotions do not float spring up simultaneously in everyone” (219). Stirrings of desire (219). The little closet smelling of orris-root (222; cf. 14).

    Week 14 -- 12/10

    Scene of sadism at Montjouvain (224).



    10.15.2009

    Our social personality...

    But then, even in the most insignificant details of our daily life, none of us can be said to constitute a material whole, which is identical for everyone, and need only be turned up like a page in an account-book or the record of a will; our social personality is created by the thoughts of other people. Even the simple act which we describe as “seeing some one we know” is, to some extent, an intellectual process. We pack the physical outline of the creature we see with all the ideas we have already formed about him, and in the complete picture of him which we compose in our minds those ideas have certainly the principal place. In the end they come to fill out so completely the curve of his cheeks, to follow so exactly the line of his nose, they blend so harmoniously in the sound of his voice that these seem to be no more than a transparent envelope, so that each time we see the face or hear the voice it is our own ideas of him which we recognise and to which we listen.

    10.14.2009

    Giotto in week 6

    Merci beaucoup encore to Proustiannes Mientje and Lynn for serving tea and madeleines (Mientje brought them straight from Paris!) at our last meeting. Everyone was transported....
    Here are a few links to illustrations of the fresco in the Arena Chapel in Padua. Some duplication, but didn't know which would show up well on your screens. Double click the images to enlarge them.
    Brill on whatamieating.com::Brill (Schopthalmus rhombus/Rhombus laevis) A flatfish lesser cousin of turbot with the same fine white nutritious firm flesh. It is fished in shallow waters of the North Atlantic and Mediterranean The top of the body is smooth grey or beige with small pearly markings The underside is creamy-white and it has small smooth scales. The bones are good for stock and it is itself often cooked off the bone. Can be used as a substitute for turbot.
    Cardoon on whatamieating.com (Scolymus cardunculus/Cynara cardunculus). A white vegetable from southern Europe it is a member of the thistle family as is the globe artichoke. It resembles a large coarse head of celery and is similar to fennel and stalks are blanched in the same way that celery is. The stalks are flat long and wide with notched sides and a suede-like finish. They should be grated and peeled in the same way as celery and it is cooked in the same way In many parts of Europe they are likely to be served with ham in a white sauce or braised

    10.07.2009

    Steeple and Church at Combray : week 5


    Interior & exterior Combray church photos at the Ecclesiastical Proust Archive :: WOW! There's an outstanding search feature, so you can search for Combray church windows and color!
    Walking Combray  :: Someone went to Illiers-Combray & took pictures.
    Map :: Modern
    ..."The [tea] leaves, which had lost or altered their own appearance, assumed those instead of the most incongruous things imaginable, as though the transparent wings of flies or the blank sides of labels or the petals of roses had been collected and pounded, or interwoven as birds weave the material for their nests."
    • Daily Proust … This writer from S.C. started reading & blogging. Here are his church entries. Looks like he didn’t finish. Or at least he stopped blogging.

    10.01.2009

    Pages for October 2009

    (Enright paging; yours may differ)
    Week 5
    Combray. Aunt Léonie’s two rooms (66); her lime-tea (69). Françoise (71).

    Week 6
    The church (80). M. Legrandin (-). Eulalie (93). Sunday lunches (97). Uncle Adolphe’s sanctum (99). Love of the theater: titles on posters (100).

    Week 7
    Meeting with “the lady in pink” (104). My family quarrel with Uncle Adolphe (109). The kitchen-maid: Giotto’s “Charity” (110).

    Week 8-
    Reading in the garden (115). The gardener’s daughter and the passing cavalry (121). Bloch and Bergotte (124). Bloch and my family (125).

    Week 9-
    Reading Bergotte (129). Swann’s friendship with Bergotte (135). Berma (135). Swann’s speech mannerisms and mental attitudes (135). Prestige of Mlle Swann as a friend of Bergotte’s (138; cf. 582). The curé’s visits to Aunt Léonie (142). Eulalie and Françoise (148).

    Gopnik on Dreyfus

    Found this in last week's NEW YORKER Magazine. Dreyfus becomes important later in A LA RECHERCHE. Gopnik mentions Proust in the middle of the piece. There's also a nice podcast on the site.

    9.23.2009

    Week 3 info

    marrons glacés::
    Aristaeus and learning that...the realms of Thetis ...  into an empire hidden from mortal eyes, where Virgil...

    a letter from Twickenham:: TWICKENHAM, London. Residence of the exiled Comte de Paris.

    Marquise de Villeparisis (née Mlle de Bouillon, aunt of the Duc and Duchesse de Guermantes; friend of M's grandmother from convent days; lover of the Duc de Norpois)

    the des Laumes (Prince and Princesse des Laumes become the Duc and Duchesse de Guermantes)

    Sévigné: Mme de SÉVIGNÉ, author of the famous Letters (1626-96).

    the Maréchal de MacMahon :: (1808–93; President of the Republic 1873–79).

    reign of Louis-Philippe :: Louis-Philippe I (6 October 1773 – 26 August 1850), was King of the French from 1830 to 1848 in what was known as the July Monarchy. He was the last king to rule France, although Napoleon III, styled as an emperor, would serve as its last monarch.

    Duc d’Audiffret-Pasquier :: (le chancelier; French statesman, 1767–1862)

    ...met a learned old man who knows Maubant very well :: MAUBANT (French actor, 1821–1902)

    Mme. Materna:: (Austrian singer, 1847–1918)

    Saint-Simon :: Louis de Rouvroy, Duc de SAINT-SIMON (French social philosopher, author of the Mémoires, 1675–1755) describes how Maulévrier : MAULÉVRIER, Marquis de (French Ambassador in Madrid, 1720–23).

    novels of George Sand

    Chartres Cathedral by Corot , of the Fountains of Saint-Cloud by Hubert Robert,

    Mount Vesuvius by Turner
    the engraving by Morghen  of Leonardo’s Last Supper

    sculptures representing the miracle of Saint Théophile
    or the four sons of Aymon

      9.10.2009

      Week 2 info

       Orris root -- From Wikipedia

      Orris root is the root of some species of iris, grown principally in southern Europe: Iris florentina, and Iris pallida. Once important in western, it is now used mainly as a fixative and base note in perfumery, as well as an ingredient in many brands of gin (perhaps most famously in Bombay Sapphire gin). Orris root must generally be hung and aged for 5 years before it can be used for perfumery. Fabienne Pavia, in her book L'univers des Parfums (1995, ed. Solar), states that in the manufacturing of perfumes using orris, the scent of the iris root differs from that of the flower. After preparation the scent is reminiscent of the smell of violets.  PICTURE HERE.

      Wild-currant bush:  Photo

      fer·ru·gi·nous  adj. 1. Of, containing, or similar to iron.  2. Having the color of iron rust; reddish-brown. [From Latin ferrginus, from ferrg, ferrgin-, iron rust, from ferrum, iron.] (c The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language)

      Bressant style:  {From HairTalk tm @ HairBoutique.com}  I am reading a translation of Swann's Way by Proust. In a recollection of childhood, the narrator talks about a man of his acquaintance who wore his hair in the "Bressant-style." The footnote reveals that "Jean-Baptiste Prosper Bressant (1815-86) was a well-known actor who introduced a new hairstyle, which consisted of wearing the hair in a crew cut in front and longer in the back." The translator could have just as well said that the Bressant-style"is popularly known as the mullet." Short in front and long in back is hardly a "new" trend. {Fr. wiki: Il introduit une nouvelle coupe de cheveux coupés en brosse sur le devant et longs derrière, étant probablement à l'origine à la coupe mullet. On parle alors de coiffe "à la Bressant".

      Jockey Club:  from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. :: The Jockey Club de Paris is best remembered as a gathering of the elite of nineteenth-century French society. The club still exists at 2 rue Rabelais, and hosts the International Federation of Racing Authorities.... During the Second Empire and the Third Republic, the gentlemen of the Jockey Club held numerous boxes at the Opera, "many little suspended salons" in Marcel Proust's phrase, where the required ballet expected in every opera was never in the first act, when the Jockey Club would habitually still be at dinner. One result was the famous fiasco of the "Paris Tannhäuser" of 1861, when Wagner insisted on inserting the requisite ballet into the first act, and the second act, with the members of the Jockey Club arriving to view their favourites in the corps de ballet, was all but hissed off the stage: Wagner never permitted another production in Paris. Proust's Charles Swann was a member, a fact that Proust more than once noted as a signal honour, given his Jewish background.

      Comte de Paris: (eldest grandson of Louis-Philippe, 1838–94). Swann was his friend.

      Prince of Wales: Edward VII (Albert Edward; 9 November 1841 – 6 May 1910) was King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions and Emperor of India from 22 January 1901 until his death on 6 May 1910. He was the first British monarch of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, which was renamed the House of Windsor by his son, George V.
      Before his accession to the throne, Edward held the title of Prince of Wales and was heir apparent to the throne for longer than anyone else in history.[1] During the long widowhood of his mother, Queen Victoria, he was largely excluded from political power and came to personify the fashionable, leisured elite.
      The Edwardian period, which covered Edward's reign and was named after him, coincided with the start of a new century and heralded significant changes in technology and society, including powered flight and the rise of socialism and the Labour movement. Edward played a role in the modernisation of the British Home Fleet, the reform of the Army Medical Services,[2] and the reorganisation of the British army after the Second Boer War. He fostered good relations between Great Britain and other European countries, especially France, for which he was popularly called "Peacemaker", but his work was unable to prevent the outbreak of World War I in 1914.



      The aristocratic world of the Faubourg Saint-Germain/Saint-Germain-des-Prés (wiki):  This central Rive-Gauche quarter is named for its 7th century abbey of which only a church is still standing. Its commercial growth began upon the 1886 completion of its Boulevard Saint-Germain and the opening of its cafés and bistrots namely its "Café de Flore" and "Deux Magots" terraces. Its fame came with the 1950s post-WW II student "culture emancipation" movement that had its source in the nearby University. Many jazz clubs appeared here during those times, and a few still remain today.  Located near the École des Beaux-Arts, this quarter is known for its artistry in general, and has many galleries along its rue Bonaparte and rue de Seine. In all, Saint-Germain-des-Prés is an upper-class bourgeois residential district, and its quality clothing and gastronomical street-side commerce is a direct reflection of this.

      9.06.2009

      Week 1 info

      These references surfaced this week:
      Also, Nabokov's lectures on literature contains one on Proust... at this link, you can perhaps read much of it in the preview box

      9.04.2009

      Renée's Proustometer

      I appreciated the Roger Shattuck paper for a glimpse of clarity for someone like me, new to Proust. Amazing that he once thought he may--purely as an excercise? write totally without chapters, paragraph breaks and sentence puctuation--just one giant sentence. I doubt I could have gotten through that! Anyway, I will use the paper to refer to as we go along. NOW, as for Renée on caffeine: YES, your Proustometer was waaaaaaay off the charts!

      Summarizing Proust

      Proustians:  Thank you for coming tonight and making the evening quite special for me. After leaving you, I was so excited, I went to AIA, where there was a perfectly outstanding sunset in mauve reflected on the unmoving ocean, while the great white moon broke through the rain-soaked clouds to cast its shimmering light across the water and up the beach right onto my feet.  I put this sunset moment at the end of all other sunset moments I've had and photographed and, as I often do, judged it the best ever. 

      Because I'd fallen asleep before the group, I'd had some caffeine assistance to perk up; I see now that it kicked in just when I needed to lay out the direction your reading could go. Sorry I was so one-track.... more than a little like Monty Python's hilarious Summarize Proust Competition  (text  here)!

      I just set up http://readproust.blogspot.com/ == a/k/a "Reading Proust for Fun." You all got invitations to both post and comment. You could use it to save thoughts / sentences / ideas for discussion.  Or if you hate it, I'll close it down.

      One thing I meant to mention.... the French title... A la recherche du temps perdu  literally translates into In Search of Lost Time (ISOLT), which was finally used in the Enright translation in 1998. Scott-Moncrieff chose Remembrance of Things Past (RTP), which is not exactly the same idea at all, but is a phrase taken from a sonnet by Shakespeare.  He also named all the other books using Shakespearean phrases, which Proust hated. The latest translations restore the original titles.

      9.01.2009

      Pages for September 2009

      Synopsis 1 SWANN’S WAY
      Part 1 COMBRAY

      (Enright paging; yours may differ)
      Week 1
      Awakenings (1). Bedrooms of the past, at Combray (4), at Tan­sonville (6), at Balbec (8; cf. II 333). Habit (8).  Bedtime at Combray (cf. 57). The magic lantern; Geneviève de Brabant (9).

      Week 2
      Family evenings (11). The little closet smelling of orris-root (14; cf. 222). The good-night kiss (15; cf. 29, 35-58). Visits from Swann (16); his father (17); his unsuspected social life (18). “Our social personality is a creation of other people’s thoughts” (23).

      Week 3
      Mme de Villeparisis’s house in Paris; “the tailor and his daughter” (25). Aunts Céline and Flora (27). Françoise’s code (38). Swann and I (40; cf. 419). My upbringing: “principles” of my grandmother (cf. 12, 13) and my mother; arbitrary behavior of my father (48).

      Week 4
      My grandmother’s presents; her ideas about books {i.e., “My dear,” she had said to Mamma, “I could not allow myself to give the child anything that was not well written.”} (52). A reading of Georges Sand (55).  Resurrection of Combray through involuntary memory. The madeleine dipped in a cup of tea (60).

      8.22.2009

      Marcel Proust Reading Group at Barnes & Noble in Fort Lauderdale, FL

      Goal:  Read at home 10 pages per week, English or French, any translation
      << the original 1922 Moncrieff, 











      << the brand-new 2004 Lydia Davis
      the 1982 Kilmartin revision [silver] >>


      of Swann's Way by Marcel Proust, first book in the grand masterpiece IN SEARCH OF LOST TIME (a/k/a REMEMBRANCE OF THINGS PAST).  

      Online texts are also available:  let me know & I'll send you links.

      GROUP: Once a week, 30 minutes, every Thursday, 6:15 pm - 6:45 pm, explore, explicate, examine those 10 pages.  Any & all variables can be modified after we've met a few times.  FIRST MEETING:  SEPTEMBER 3, 2009

      BRAVO!  So far 5 fearless readers have volunteered to join me! You rock! 

      NOTE: 
      Swann's Way often has 3 sections: 
        COMBRAY (sets the stage for everything to come, including the most famous cookie ever at about p. 45);
        SWANN IN LOVE (an obsessive love affair between two main characters;
        PLACE NAMES: THE NAME (an evocation of memory via the names of places)
        We'll start with the Overture/Combray, the most famous part.  
        HINT: It's easy to sleep through this book. I advise you to sit up in your chair & avoid bedtimes. Try reading aloud; there's a melody.