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. 

"...like 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.