Last night, tired after returning from a literary soiree, I headed to bed early, and discovered my trusty Kindle was still downstairs, as was the book we bought at the party. And this week's New Yorker. Grrrr.
Good old Proust was still on the nightstand, with its (perhaps) mouse-nibbled cover. I remembered that I had left off at the Verdurin's dinner party at Raspelier, over-looking the coast and not far from Balbec where Proust often spent part of the summer. This is Cities of the Plain.
Charlus prefers strawberry juice to orangeade, both homemade by Madame Verdurin's esteemed cook, no doubt. By the way he makes his choice, the narrator notes the Baron's preference for men over woman and speculates that he's a woman in a man's body. Wow! Was Proust ever ahead of his time! Transgender stuff. The Baron goes on to make a fool of Madame Verdurin, not a terribly difficult thing to do. She's such a fraud and a social climber and manipulative to the max, one of these great characters that we love to hate. I nodded off after a half-dozen pages, which I would have done with even the most hair-raising thriller, so don't blame Proust. Tired is tired. And I like it ever so much. I am tempted to get Proust on the Kindle, too.
If you are a Proust scholar (I am not, alas) or take an interest in literary studies, I have the monograph for you. http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/new_literary_history/summary/v042/42.1.lurz.html
Back in the day, when I had perhaps ambitions to be a scholar, I would have dived into this. At least Proust and I are in synch in that it is summer in Balbec and summer in Foxborough, although the rains and cool weather are more spring-like. The calendar says summer. Now do I want Orangeade or Strawberry Juice? Hmmmm.
Odette, the Other One