Within a Budding Grove Post I

Time for a minor celebration as this is my 100th post. Sticking with the Proust reading I have gone straight from Volume I of Remembrance of Things Past into Vol II. This is because the book I am reading is a three volume set, with the first including Swann’s Way and Within A Budding Grove.

I am reading the 1982 Chatto & Windus edition but if are reading along in the separate versions it’s just a simple case of maths to see where the equivalent page numbers on the daily bullet points are.

The advantage of going straight into Vol II is that some of the questions left from the first volume are answered while others develop.

Bullet points from pages 463 – 550

* Swann appears to have changed after marrying Odette and has become a social climber keen to name-drop and the same characters from the first Volume still populate his life with the Verdurin’s, Cottards and a character called Marquis de Norpois becoming the link between the narrator and the Swann family

* The narrator continues to suffer from sickness and anxiety and is introduced one evening to de Norpois because his father believes his ex ambassador friend with influence might be able to secure a future for his son

* However the little writing the narrator has done is dismissed by de Norpois and his favourite writer Bergotte is savaged as a novelist without any great works to his name

* As de Norpois recounts an evening with the Swanns a brief explanation of the marriage, which Odette appears to have given up all hope of becoming a reality, is sketched out with the results that both Swann with his fear of social exclusion and Odette’s character both seem to have been allayed and improved

* The other theme of the book is the infatuation the young narrator feels for Swann’s daughter Gilberte, who finally invites him into her home and social world after he is ill and his presence missed from their casual park playing sessions in the Champs-Elysee

During the summer in a round-up of summer reading recommendations Will Self recommended Proust because he said it was like a soap opera and it does leave you with cliff hangers. These are the ones that might be answered with tomorrow’s chunk of reading: will Gilberte and the character of the narrator find love? Swann is mentioned as dying when is that going to be? Will Swann ever patch it up with the narrator’s family, with which he fell out over their reaction to his marriage to Odette?

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