Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The Fugitive

I finished "The Fugitive" of Proust's In Search of Lost Time.

After the narrator describing in great detail his suspicions, jealousy, boredom, and “love,” for Albertine, after him telling her a couple times that he wanted her out of his house, at long last she surprises him by fleeing. She’d be crazy to stay it seems. Yes, she got a nice place to live, food, servants (who don’t like her there), and lovely dresses and clothes, but the price is just more than any sane person would pay. Yet, is she of sound mind? What is she really like? I don’t have a clear idea.

Picture Albertine in the narrator’s living room and you the reader are there too trying to learn about this person because the narrator wants you to, you think. All the while Proust’s narrator won’t let you see her. He prefers to stand in front of her and talk in great, rich, charming, literate detail about her. He’s a genius, a master with words, so you often forget that you want not only to visit with him, but also to see her for yourself so that you can figure out how much of what he says you should discard. He just won’t let you. You crane your neck to get a better look at her, and he maneuvers himself so that the view is still blocked, but he’s quite adroit so you don’t always realize how he’s working on you. After all chances are your previous reading hasn’t quite prepared you for Proust, his analysis, his insights, or this game. Just go along for the ride. Reader, resignation is your best bet.

“The Fugitive” also contains a lot about Baron Charlus and allegations of his sexual orientation. This is the narrator's other consuming area of thought. Any Freudia is going to note the projection. The narrator’s own love life is secondary to his obsession with what Albertine and Charlus are doing with AndreĆ© or Morel or whomever.

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