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).