Wednesday, November 07, 2012

The Marquise de Saint-Euverte’s Musical Soirée

It was a brilliant decision for A Curious Invitation: The Forty Greatest Parties in Literature by Suzette Field  to pick this party, with the fun poked at invitees and servants alike, and with the social jockeying and snobbery as evident as the men's monocles and the ladies outrageous hair ornamentation.

This is one of Proust’s shorter (and therefore better) parties.  The writing also contains quantities  Proust's snarky humor.  The narrator outdoes himself with his witty, exacerbating descriptions of the guests and the music, so many of which are imminently quotable.

 Of one of the many footmen and grooms who attend the guests, Proust singles out the hair of one of them. “. . . that a head of hair, by the glossy undulation and beaklike points of its curls, or in the overlaying of the florid triple diadem of its brushed tresses, can suggest at once a bunch of seaweed, a brood of fledgling doves, a bed of hyacinths and a serpent’s writhing back. “

Of a guest, Proust writes, “M. de Palancy, who with his huge carp’s head and goggling eyes moved slowly up and down the stream of festive gatherings, unlocking his great mandibles at every moment as though in search of his orientation, had the air of carrying about upon his person only an accidental and perhaps purely symbolical fragment of the glass wall of his aquarium…”
 Quoted from Swann’s Way, “Swan in Love” translated by Scott Moncrieff.

One bows to the master.

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