Sunday, 29 July 2012

The Guermantes Way (In Search of Lost Time Vol 3) by Marcel Proust (4/5)

The back says nothing, but here’s my short synopsis: The narrator and his family move into an apartment connected to the Guermantes residence in Paris, where he becomes increasingly obsessed with Mme de Guermantes and tries everything to meet her. Since Saint-Loup is her nephew, he arranges for them to meet. The narrator also meets Saint-Loup’s girlfriend and realises that she is the Jewish prostitute, Rachel, that he used to see in his youth in Paris, but reveals none of this to his friend.

In this part the narrator introduces us to a great deal of new characters, as well as a small reunion of sorts with Swann and Albertine.

I say: I’m not quite sure what to say about this volume because there were instances of absolute perfection, and others that bored me to tears – most specifically all the parts concerning the Dreyfus Affair – that I simply wanted to skip as I don’t think they really provided anything to the story. Although I do understand that the Dreyfus Affair was a very big deal at the time, I still wish that Proust had refrained from giving such detailed descriptions/conversations about it; it would have sufficed to let us know who was a Dreyfusard and not.

Pretty much meaning who was for the Jews and who was an anti-Semite.

It was interesting because that was a part of French history that I knew nothing about (not that I know that much about French history) apart from Émile Zola’s part in it, and I have looked further into it since then.

The narrator started to annoy me quite a bit in this volume due to his obsession with Mme de Guermantes. He had spoken of her prior, but to be honest, I don’t see any reason to his infatuation. Particularly, I didn’t like the way he went about to meet her; using Saint-Loup the way he did. I understand that a young man will do anything to get close to the object of his desire, but in a way I thought more of him, probably due to his sensitive nature.

But later on he proved to be nothing more than a horny boy, so boo on me for my high opinion.

More than anything the story I am still in love with Proust’s writing, and falling deeper the more I read. I have realised now that I am taking my time with this story because I simply don’t want it to end – not to mention the fact that the next volume, Sodom and Gomorrah, is the last one that Proust actually finished revising himself.

Having said all that, I think that volume four is going to be the best one yet, and not simply because my suspicions of Charlus have been confirmed, but because of the title; Sodom and Gomorrah.

I can’t wait.

*This is my fifteenth entry in The Classic Bribe Challenge (which is an additional incentive for me to work on my Classics Challenge that’s been going on for a tad too long).


  1. Nice to catch up with your thoughts on the first three volumes, I love that you have the box-set to dip into. :)

    1. I love the box-set as well, although I want to start over from the beginning again.