Saturday, November 29, 2008

Swann's Way (222-333)


In this section of the novel Swann attends the dinner parties held by Mme. Verdurin. Proust details the parties are we learn more about the budding relationship between Swann and Odette. At one point Odette insists on Swann coming to earlier to the dinner because he usually arrives after the meal. Swann declines and Odette suggests that they have dinner just the two of them. When Swann asks Odette what she will tell Mme. Verdurin if she does not attend Odette tells Swann that she can just lie. Right here is when Swann should have realized than Odette was not an honest person. When she showed him how swiftly she could make up a lie and say that she was or somewhere else or that she had other obligations. He should have realized sooner that all the times they were supposed to meet or she said she wasn’t home she could have, and probably did lie about it. This is an example of Swann’s ignorance. It seems so obvious to the reader that Odette is dishonest and is using Swann just for the salary that he gives her but he is unable to realize that.

            Later on in the text when Odette is knocked over by a scared horse Swann helps her readjust her rumpled dress. She was wearing Cattleyas on her dress and he asked her if he could fix them for her. He had to touch her bodice to fix the flower but was so awkward about it. He kept asking her a million questions like: Is this okay, is it uncomfortable, is it bothering you, can I do this, am I annoying you? Odette handled this awkward moment well by just smiling and politely shrugging her shoulders. In this scene Swann makes himself look insane and acts as if he has never touched or spoken to a women before. For a character that is notorious for being a bit of a ladies man, he sure seems to go about it like he has never done it before. He is awkward and continues to be awkward throughout the relationship.

            The rest of this section continues with dinner party conversation and then a private conversation about Swann, Forcheville and Odette that happens between Mme. Verdurin and her husband. M. Forcheville blatantly states that he thinks Swann is stupid. Mme. Verdurin chimes in that she thinks that Odette prefers Forcheville anyway and that he is a better choice for her. She says that Swann is not direct and is cunning. He is always between ideas and that is just the opposite of Forcheville, who is straightforward and tells you the truth.

            What is interesting to me is that Mme. Verdurin picks up on the image that Swann tries to create for himself. She can tell that he is looking to keep a name and impress people with what he does and who he knows. She refers to him as a society man and I feel the exact same way about him that she does. I can see right through Swann and I don’t know why more characters can’t.   



Thursday, November 13, 2008

Swann's Way

This book begins in a really interesting way; Proust starts out by introducing the character in bed and describing sleep. He describes the darkness and how when he is awake he isn’t sure he is asleep. The way that he obsesses over it makes him seem a little compulsive in his thoughts. He begins to imagine his pillow turning into a woman and then the character starts to talk about how he longs for his mothers kiss. You don’t know right away that he is really a young boy until he begins to go on about his mother.

 For quite a while he describes his longing for his mothers kiss upon his cheek and how much he adores it. But because of his father and the way he frowns upon kissing his mother he is afraid of him. When reading I felt bad for the young boy and the fact that his father would not let him kiss his mother. It was really annoying and I didn’t see what the big deal was with him kissing her goodnight. What I did think was strange though was his obsession over it. The way he described his mothers kiss and his lips on his mother’s cheek totally crept me out. I felt like this little boy was obsessed with his mother in the way of Oedipus. I became clearer why the father had been so stern on him not kissing his mother because of this but he was only a little boy. Sometimes fathers try to make their boys grow up faster tot “protect” them from being too emotional but instead of protecting him he is straining their relationship.

I didn’t understand at all why the little boy could never join the family for dinner. The father would never let him join and purposely eat late so he had to miss out. I wasn’t sure if it was too late for him or not but I thought that this was odd. It reminded me again of the Oedipus story because they were competed for the attention. His father was shooing him off to bed, but the mother would sneak him kisses sometimes.

When Swann was introduced I was surprised by the way that he was described, not so fabulous in my opinion. I began reading the book thinking the young boy was Swann and was disappointed to find out he was not. It was an observation of Swann. I don’t feel very connected with Swann and feel like he is portrayed awkwardly. It may be just me but I don’t really like him at all and he kind makes me suspicious. I enjoy hearing more about the tales of the young boy than I do of Swann’s life. He seems like an odd sort of person. He is said to have money and seems well cultured and to have a very nice life. He is also very intelligent but they way I feel about him is he is one of those people that has things and does stuff to impress people, make “friends” and to preserve a status quo.