Monday, January 28, 2008

Swann's Way, 49-191

I am struck most in this section by Marcel's struggle to distinguish between his "interiority" and his "exteriority." There seems to be always through the novel this sense of Marcel being directed by his interior existence, that his exteriority, that is, life itself, is but a pale reflection of his inner-life. As Marcel says of what he learns from Swann's Way, "I was struck for the first time by this discord between our impressions and their habitual expression" (158). Impressions (interior) and expressions (exterior) are never in accord for Marcel, which raises the question of it they are for any of us.

The structure of the novel so far embodies this discord in the way that many characters are roaming, even haunting the background of the narrative: Francoise, the kitchen maid, Swann, and uncle Adolphe. They have a presence in the narrative, but beyond that they have a hidden presence which more vividly populates the narrative. Francoise, for example, with her secret cruelty, or Adolphe, with his mysterious connections, or Swann, with his wife who cannot be introduced. These hidden events are really what seem to have the most impact on the lives of the household. The hidden, the interior, directs the exterior, which has little significant impact on us.

I'm also very interested in the scene between Vinteuil's daughter and her lover, 162-67, but I'll hold my thoughts until I hear from you.

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