Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Duchesse de Guermantes invites a poet to dinner

Back to Proust last night and the long section about the Duchesse of Guermantes and how she entertains.

Another example of Proustian humor which is so gentle, really and so wry and so understated that one possibly could read right over it which is what I did for years.

The Duchesse of Guermantes invites someone to dinner, telling him that a well-known poet has been invited and she knows he wants to meet the poet, etc. The dinner party takes place, and the poet is at the table, but the Duchesse talks about food, gardening, this and that and poetry is never, ever mentioned and the guest who wanted to meet the poet and get his opinion on the state of the art of poetry is out of luck. Like the elephant in the living room, is poetry at that party.

The implication is that the Duchesse thinks that in the interest of hospitality, maybe the poet would just like to eat dinner and take a break from talking about poetry.

The other implication is that the Duchesse is dominating the conversation with her blather about this and that and no one can get in a word edgewise.

If one envisions that dinner, the comic possibilities are endless.

I love Proust.

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