Monday, February 25, 2008

Snobbery Then and Now

Reading in Proust (The Guermantes Way) last night about the trials of Mme. Villeparisis and how she fell in society due to a neglect of the niceties, shall we say, and when she wanted to make her way back up the ladder to the top, the rungs were no longer accessible.

Snobbery tried and failed to rule on Jane Austen last night, as Pride and Prujudice and love triumphed.

I suppose we will always have snobbery. Right now, people look down on the new McMansions. Some suburbs are better. The right car, the right summer home, the right this, the right that, and above all the right school. The right shoes, handbag. It goes on and on. We are just as bad as Proust's or Austen's snobs. New money, old money.

Or as my very snobby (Mother was DAR, he likes to sail with the "right" people, i.e. the New York Yacht Club) friend said, when I talked about Burning Man. "I wouldn't have anything to saw to those people." Burners? You can say anything to Burners.

Ohmigod, the right yacht club, the destination wedding, the right table in the right restaurant even, if you write, the right genre.

I am a snob, too. I look down on people with no books in their houses, people who eat takeout 24/7 and people who drive enormous black SUV's. So there.

I'm leaving for a writing conference. Not taking Proust. Instead, I am taking a novel called Pasadena. I'll be back in a week, with a week's worth of Proust blogs, should there be any of interest, and there usually are.

I will be able to give a blow by blow of writer's snobberies. Chacun a son gout. Sorry for the lack of the proper French accents. I have never figured them out for Blogger except to cut and paste from word and that is just too tedious.


Saturday, February 23, 2008

La Vie en Proust

Every now and then I find a post that is so perfect it has to be shared.

Nathan Hondros knows Proust. He has a wonderful post. It makes me happy to read it.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Saluting "Madeline Moments"

Another Proust blogger has an anniversary. A thoughtful, informative blog you should read.

She is offering a contest with a "real" prize.

Odette (speaking here) is still reading about Rachel and St. Loup. As with Swann, one wants to slap St. Loup on the side of his head for wasting his time and money on such a gold digger.

On the other hand, did young women have any legitimate way to earn money back then? Besides marrying well? Maybe we should walk a mile in their moccasins. I am of two minds. Proust, too, seems to waver on the topic of Rachel. This makes literature good, the ability to see both sides of a conflicted character. And all the characters in Proust are conflicted. We like that.


Friday, February 15, 2008

Rachel from the Lord

The past two evenings I've been reading about St. Loup and the mistress that he loves so much, the mistress that he wants to support in great expensive style by making an "advantageous" marriage.

Marcel, and thus the reader, finally meet the young lady (?) in question, who lives outside of Paris in a rather shabby little banlieu. Marcel is rather horrified to discover that the mistress is none other than Rachel, a former prostitute who would do anything with anyone for 20 Louis.

St. Loup suspects, rightly I think, that Rachel doesn't really love him so much as the money and jewels he provides her with.

Do we see a pattern here? Do we see Swann? Odette was a courtesan, too. Odette never loved Swann, who married here and could never be received into polite society again with his wife.

Proust notes that St. Loup would marry Rachel but once the marriage was a fait accompli, St. Loup suspects that Rachel would not be as devoted as when there are no legal bindings and he can dump her at any time without repercussions.

There are echoes of Marcel's love for Gilberte, and even the Duchesse of Guermantes, unrequited love. Is any love requited in Proust? Jealousy rears it's yellow head. And a shadowing of Marcel and Albertine. This is just too delicious.

Now what is also interesting, is that Rachel isn't really all that "common," as one would expect. She can hold her own in literary discussions, in fact can't wait to chat with Marcel about certain subjects. She has common friends, who call to her to join them for a day in Paris before they realize she has St. Loup in tow, friends whom she does not snub.

In other words, although she was a common whore, and still appears to be venal, Rachel is treated rather sympathetically. I find this intriguing. It would have been so easy for Proust in the person of Marcel to dismiss her completely, and he does not. After all, the over-infatuated St. Loup must see something in her.

It's all very intriguing, and I had forgotten all about St. Loup's mistress.


Monday, February 11, 2008

Remembrance of a Proust Lecture

Oops! The lecture has come and gone. Not likely I would have come all the way from Foxborough. Once, in the depths of a Chicago winter very much like the current one (cold, cold, cold), I dragged my significant other through the snow to a lecture at Northwestern University about Proust.

My god, was it cold!

The professor said we should all read Proust. And I came home and did. From cover to cover.

And here I am again, years later. Sort of bogged down with the Duchess of Guermantes and the narrator's not very subtle (today we would call it stalking) arranging to run into her on her walks and business about town. Just reading the magazines and newspapers that come into the house is daunting, and then there's the books. But I am making progress.

Oh yes! The lecture:

Isn't he handsome in a European professorial kind of way? I have a Frenchman in my latest novel, Festival Madness, which I'll start flogging soon.



Sunday, February 03, 2008

Not Reading Proust In Foxborough

Today is dedicated to the New England Patriots (who play in Foxborough) and their quest for a perfect season.

Found another Proust blogger who will keep you entertained. Love the blogger's graphics. Chasing down Proust blogs is almost as much fun as reading Proust and one finds some extremely interesting people.

here it is:

I'm going to fix some superbowl food. See photo above. Superbowl food should be muscular, not wimp food.