Notes on week 21: Dinner conversation

"And so, when she was in a happy mood because she was going to see the Reine Topaze, or when her eyes grew serious, troubled, petulant, if she was afraid of missing the flower-show, or merely of not being in time for tea, with muffins and toast, at the Rue Royale tea-rooms, where she believed that regular attendance was indispensable, and set the seal upon a woman’s certificate of ‘smartness,’..."

La Reine Topaze: 1856 opera Carnaval de Venise, composed by Victor MASSÉ
Si la musique de Victor Massé n'est guère tenue en estime aujourd'hui, il faut croire que ce sentiment était déjà partagé par certains de ses contemporains. En témoigne cet extrait de Du côté de chez Swann de Proust ; le personnage de Swann (grand bourgeois très cultivé) s'irrite de ce que sa maîtresse Odette de Crécy (demi-mondaine absolument dénuée de goût en matière artistique) souhaite aller voir un opéra de Victor Massé intitulé Une nuit de Cléopâtre, opéra qu'il juge consternant :
« Ce n'est pas de la colère, pourtant, se disait-il à lui-même, que j'éprouve en voyant l'envie qu'elle a d'aller picorer dans cette musique stercoraire. C'est du chagrin, non pas certes pour moi, mais pour elle ; du chagrin de voir qu'après avoir vécu plus de six mois en contact quotidien avec moi, elle n'a pas su devenir assez une autre pour éliminer spontanément Victor Massé ! »
Rue Royal Tea-Rooms...
"Under the Second Empire, cafes developed and became more and more luxurious. They attracted Parisian high society. Along with the chic restaurants around the Madeleine, they became the showcases of the capital..."

Renaissance furniture and fireplaces like the Château at Blois    (more photos here)

Blanche of Castille (1188-1252); Queen Consort of France, wife of King Louis VIII.
"Upon his death, he left Blanche regent and guardian of his children. Of her twelve or thirteen children, six had died, and Louis, the heir — afterwards the sainted Louis IX — was but twelve years old. The situation was critical, for the hard-won domains of the house of Capet seemed likely to fall to pieces during a minority. Blanche had to bear the whole burden of affairs alone, to break up a league of the barons (1226), and to repel the attack of the king of England (1230). But her energy and firmness overcame all dangers."
...A lively topic for Brichot's dinner conversation...

Chronicles of St.-Denis:  The miniature at left shows Philip the Good, the Duke of Burgundy, being presented with the Chroniques by Abbot Guillaume Fillastre, on 1 January 1457. They were sold at auction

Suger , the abbot of St.-Denis, (c. 1081 – 13 January 1151) was one of the last French abbot-statesmen, a historian, and the influential first patron of Gothic architecture.



Notes on week 21: The Princesse de Sagan was real

What had happened was that they had at once discovered in him a locked door, a reserved, impenetrable chamber in which he still professed silently to himself that the Princesse de Sagan was not grotesque, and that Cottard's jokes were not amusing;
 Princesse de Sagan (NY Times, 1908); Wiki (Fr.); Wiki (Eng.)

"The Walters watercolor is a study for a painting entitled Fête chez la princess de Sagan (1883, private collection), which was produced to commemorate a ball held in 1883 at the Sagan mansion near Les Invalides in Paris (now the Polish embassy). Therefore, the inscription on the back of the watercolor--"Study for a party at the Durazzo Palace, executed for Monsieur the Viscomte Henri Greffuhle"--is partially incorrect. Although this work was indeed in Greffuhle's collection, the nature of this image as a preparatory study causes us to question the viscount's role in its commission. It is more likely that he simply purchased the watercolor from the artist as a memento of the occasion for his wife, the comtesse Greffuhle.1 Moreover, the statement that the ball took place at the Durazzo Palace is misleading as the party occurred at the princess's Parisian home. The confusion, however, is easily explained by the fact that for the ball the princess had the entryway and grand staircase of the Durazzo Palace in Genoa reconstructed in her own house."


Swann's Way Texts online

Study Guides

Other books

Proust & the Sense of Time (Julia Kristeva)


    Pages for February

    1  SWANN’S WAY:   Part 2  SWANN IN LOVE
    (Enright paging; yours may differ)

    Week 19:  2/4
    Odette, a Florentine painting (316). Love letter from Odette written from the Maison Dorée (319). Swann’s arrival at the Verdurins’ one evening after Odette’s departure (320); anguished search in the night (323).

                     No meeting Thursday, February 11th.

    Week 20: 2/18
    The cattleyas (328); she becomes his mistress (331). Odette’s vulgarity (341); her idea of “chic” (344). Swann begins to adopt her tastes (348) 

    Week 21: 2/25
    and considers the Verdurins “magnanimous people” (352). Why, nevertheless, he is not a true member of the “faithful,” unlike Forcheville (355). A dinner at the Ver­durins’: Brichot (356), Cottard (357), the painter (361), Saniette (370).