Dennis Abrams on three trees at Hudmisil

Quoting from The Proust Project.

Dinner Guests of Mme de Villeparisis' Parents

  • CHOPIN, Frédéric (French/Polish composer, 1810-49)
  • LISZT, Franz (Hungarian composer, 1811-86)
  • LAMARTINE, Alphonse de (French poet, 1790-1869)
  • CHATEAUBRIAND, François-René, Vicomte de (French writer & statesman, 1768-1848)
  • BALZAC, Honoré de (French novelist, 1799-1850)
  • HUGO, Victor (French poet, novelist & playwright, 1802-85)
  • VIGNY, Alfred de (French poet, 1797-1863)
  • Molé, Mathieu Louis (French judge & statesman, 1781-1855)
  • FONTANES, Louis, Marquis de (French man of letters & statesman, 1757-1821)
  • VITROLLES, Eugene Francois Augusto d'Arnaud, Baron (French politician, 1774-1854)
  • BERSOT, Ernest (French philosopher & journalist, 1816-80)
  • PASQUIER, Etienne Denis, Duc de (French statesman & author, 1767-1862),
  • LEBRUN, Pierre-Antoine (French poet, 1785-1873)
  • SALVANDY, Comte de (French writer & politician, 1795-1856)
  • DARU, Pierre-Bruno, comte (French politician & writer, 1767-1829)
  • STENDHAL [Henri Beyle] (French novelist, 1783-1842)
  • MÉRIMÉE, Prosper (French novelist, 1803-70)
  • SAINTE-BEUVE, Charles-Augustin (French writer, 1804-69); information on Sainte-Beuve's ideas about literary criticism and Proust's response to them (Contre Sainte-Beuve)
Dennis Abrams, over at The Cork-Lined Room, notes why it is important to pay attention to Proust's -- and his characters' -- name-dropping. 

Notes for May (pages 388-94)

Mme BLANDAIS: wife of the notary from LeMans on holiday at the Grand Hotel (388).  ... 

...a young page who attracted the eye no less by the unusual and effective colouring of his hair than by his plant-like epidermis. Inside, in the hall, corresponding to the narthex, or Church of the Catechumens in a primitive basilica...(388)
  The narthex of a church is the entrance or lobby area, located at the end of the nave, at the far end from the church's main altar. Catechumen, in the early Church, was the name applied to one who had not yet been initiated into the sacred mysteries, but was undergoing a course of preparation for that purpose. 

" those pupils of Mme. de Maintenon who, in the garb of young Israelites, carry on the action whenever Esther or Joad ‘goes off.’ (389)
Françoise d'Aubigné, Mme de MAINTENON, (mistress, later wife of Louis XIV, 1635-1719)

Boys of humble background might become pages, or apprentice footmen. Unlike the hall boys, who did heavy work, these pages performed light odd jobs and were liveried when the aristocrat was entertaining.

...The arborescent page... (389)  arborescent:  Like a tree in structure, growth, or appearance; branching. About 1675, from Latin arborescens, present active participle of arboresco (“become a tree”). All one image: he's set on "alien soil" witn a "vegetable immobility."
Apple tree in bloom
"...I sought to carry them back in my imagination to that roadside, to multiply them, to spread them out, so as to fill the frame prepared for them, on the canvas, all ready, of those closest to the outline of which I knew by heart, which I so longed to see—which one day I must see again, at the moment when, with the exquisite fervour of genius, spring was covering their canvas with its colours..." (390)

..."sun radiant" ... ("soleil rayonnant", 390) : quoting Baudelaire's Chant d'automne (Song of Autumn)

... Leconte de Lisle's beautiful image of birds & boats (391), from the Oresteia of Aeschylus.

...The church at Carqueville, "quite buried in its old ivy" (391-2) is based on the church at Criqueboeuf. Another picture is here.
 Mme de Villeparisis paints flowers in watercolor (392), as did Proust's great friend & benefactor, Madeleine Lemaire.  She illustrated Proust's book of stories, arranged introductions, and invited him to her salon. 
... the conversational talent of Louis-Philippe...( 394). Wiki.  His museum.


Notes for May (p II 387-88)

But before all this I had drawn back my own curtains, impatient to know what Sea it was that was playing that morning by the shore, like a Nereid. (387)

THE NEREIDES (or Nereids) were 50 Haliad Nymphs or goddesses of the sea; patrons of sailors & fishermen, who assisted men in distress; goddesses who had the sea's bounty in their care. Individually they also represented facets of the sea, i.e, salty brine, foam, sand, rocky shores, waves and currents, as well as the skills possessed by seamen. The Nereides dwelt with their elderly father Nereus in a silvery cavern at the bottom of the Aegean Sea. Thetis was their unofficial leader, and Amphitrite was the queen of the sea. Together with the Tritones they formed the retinue of Poseidon.  In ancient art, they were depicted as beautiful young maidens, sometimes running with small dolphins or fish in their hands, or riding on the back of dolphins, hippokampoi (fish-tailed horses) and other sea creatures.
"...disclose to my wondering eyes the nymph Glauconome, whose lazy beauty, gently breathing, had the transparence of a vaporous emerald beneath whose surface I could see teeming the ponderable elements that coloured it? She made the sun join in her play, with a smile rendered languorous by an invisible haze which was nought but a space kept vacant about her translucent surface, which, thus curtailed, became more appealing, like those goddesses whom the sculptor carves in relief upon a block of marble, the rest of which he leaves unchiselled..."   
 GLAUKONOME was the Nereid of the "mastering the grey" sea. (cf. Hesiod, Apollodorus)

"...seated beside Mme. de Villeparisis in her barouche..."  (A 4-wheel fancy carriage with a fold-up hood at the back and with two inside seats facing each other.)
Saint-Mars le Vêtu ... or Quetteholme (387): fictional towns near Balbec;   FÉTERNE. The Cambremer estate near Balbec (388).


Pages for May 2011

May 5: Different seas (387). Drives with Mme de Villeparisis (387). The ivy-covered church (391). Mme de Villeparisis’s con­versation (394, 408). Norman girls (396). 

May 12:  The handsome fisher-girl (402). The three trees of Hudimesnil (404; cf. I 254). The fat Duchesse de La Rochefoucauld (416).

May 19: My grandmother and I: intimations of death (419).  Robert de Saint-Loup (421). My friendship with him (430), but real happiness requires solitude (431; cf. 664).

May 26:  Saint-Loup as a work of art: the “nobleman” (432). A Jewish colony (432). Va­riety of human failings and similarity of virtues (436). Bloch’s bad manners (442). Bloch and his father (443; cf. 476).