Cities of the Plain – post VII

The fourth volume, set almost entirely in Balbec, is reaching its climax with the love between Marcel and Albertine growing and the behaviour of M. de Charlus becoming more obvious to those suspicious of his sexuality

Bullet points between pages 969 – 1109

* The meet-up at the Verdurins displays a mixture of boredom, bullying and showing off as a host of the faithful are abused and praised by the host and hostess. All play a part and anyone who is insulted has their ego massaged to ensure they will return

* The relationship between Morel the violinist and M. de Charlus appears to be platonic because the elderly aristocrat is quite capable of getting aroused through words as well as physical deeds

* In an earlier volume there was an interesting passage about the development of technology, in that instance the telephone, and there is another sequence where Marcel hires a motor car and is amazed at the distances it can cover compared to horses

“We realised this as soon as the vehicle, starting off, covered in one bound twenty paces of an excellent horse. Distances are only the relation of space to time and vary with it.” Pg 1029

* His possessiveness of Albertine provokes a comment by his mother who asks him to maybe take a break but he is clearly to the reader deeply in love with her and at that stage of the relationship where possession and jealously are the main emotions

* Sticking with the technology breakthroughs Marcel sees an aeroplane and bursts into tears at the sight of his first plane on horseback, a mode of transport he is forced to revert to after the car hire company recall the car to Paris

* In fact there have been some underhand dealings between the chauffeur of the car and Morel who gets him into a position as the Verdurin’s driver at the expense of the head coachman who is sacked

* There are a number of humorous mistakes that involved Baron de Charlus including M. Verdurin telling him that he is one of their sort and then Madame Cottard believing that he is Jewish when he is a protestant

* The problem for M. de Charlus is that everyone in the Verdurin’s circle has guessed at his sexuality and the more he thinks he is being clever by talking about “immoral acts” in conversation the more he is making a fool of himself, although he is well liked

* There is a laugh out loud moment when Charlus strokes Dr Cottard’s hand and the Dr thinks he is going to be raped and has been asked to meet the Baron in a pub as some sort of elaborate trap

All that is left is a magical 60 pages and even I can manage that tomorrow…

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