p 96 | "...the Academicians...": candidates for election to the various academies, the Académie Française above all, are expected to gather support in this way. (Sturrock notes)
p 96 | Mme de Durfort: the Durfort family appears in the Memoirs of Saint-Simon, one of Proust's principal sources of aristocratic names; various members were still prominent in Parisian society in his own day. (Sturrock notes)
p 97 | Mélanie Pourtalès: Comtesse Edmond de Pourtalès, née Mélanie de Bussière (c.1832-1914), had been a lady-in-waiting to the Empress Eugénie, wife of Napoleon III. (Sturrock notes)
p 98 | General Staff: Representatives from all French military forces (army, navy, air, etc.).
Labiche (1815-88), comic playwright who wrote many of the most popular and amusing light comedies of the 19th-century French stage. Born into the bourgeois class, which provided the social setting for most of his works. Typically, the plays are based on an improbable incident evolving into an imbroglio that brings out the folly and frailty of the characters.