Tuesday, 27 May 2014

The Captive (In Search of Lost Time, Vol 5) by Marcel Proust (3/5)

First published: 1923
Original title: La Prisonnière
Original language: French
Translation to English by:
C.K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin (revised by D.J. Enright)
Page count: 379

The back says: Nothing, but this volume deals with the narrator’s relationship with Albertine in Paris. There is also a party at the Verdurins which ends in M. de Charlus being ostracised from society.

I say: I actually started reading this when I finished Sodomand Gomorrah in August last year, but gave up around 100 or so pages in due to boredom. However, having had it stare at me all this time I decided to finally finish it.

And it was laborious.

I started from the beginning because I could barely remember anything, but it soon came back to me.


I cannot stand the narrator (who for the first time refers to himself as Marcel) and his relationship with Albertine, and since about 300 of the 379 pages are dedicated to it, I genuinely wanted to cry out of frustration. Marcel claims not to be in love with her, but he gets infinitely jealous and has her every move watched – with good reason, mind you – and despite his endless reasoning I cannot for the life of me understand why he clings to her. They made each other miserable and as a consequence made me miserable. Of course, this volume is called The Captive, and still I never expected it to be as tedious as this.

The only reprieve is when Marcel visits the Verdurins and we are witness to some intrigues in their circle.

Proust passed away in 1922 so this volume was revised and published after his death and in my volume errors are pointed out in the notes; some of which include a character being referred to as dead by one of the guests and later is said to still be alive, and Albertine referring to an earlier conversation that the reviser decided to axe from the manuscript. I am not going to go into much more of this because apparently the next volume, The Fugitive, is said to be even worse.


Reading back to my earlier reviews I can see that I started disliking the narrator in the second volume and I am now bordering on hating him. I am desperately hoping that he’ll shape up, but I am not holding my breath.

3/5 because Proust is amazing at describing any emotion that does not refer to to Albertine. This is by far the weakest of the volumes, which scares me because those were my exact sentiments after finishing Sodom and Gomorrah.


  1. This volume makes me hate him, too.

    I'm nearly finished The Fugitive (I think about 50 pages to go, which I'm going to read tonight) and it's been a laborious experience.

    Just think how close we are to the end! :)

    1. I've only read about 50 pages of The Fugitive before I had to do other things - not a good reading week. But yeah, by next week we'll be done and then... cake for everyone!