At daybreak, my face still turned to the wall, and before I had seen
above the big inner curtains what tone the first streaks of light
assumed, I could already tell what sort of day it was. The first
sounds from the street had told me, ...
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The Captive

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At daybreak, my face still turned to the wall, and before I had seen
above the big inner curtains what tone the first streaks of light
assumed, I could already tell what sort of day it was. The first
sounds from the street had told me, according to whether they came to
my ears dulled and distorted by the moisture of the atmosphere or
quivering like arrows in the resonant and empty area of a spacious,
crisply frozen, pure morning; as soon as I heard the rumble of the
first tramcar, I could tell whether it was sodden with rain or setting
forth into the blue. And perhaps these sounds had themselves been
forestalled by some swifter and more pervasive emanation which,
stealing into my slumber, diffused in it a melancholy that seemed to
presage snow, or gave utterance (through the lips of a little person
who occasionally reappeared there) to so many hymns to the glory of
the sun that, having first of all begun to smile in my sleep, having
prepared my eyes, behind their shut lids, to be dazzled, I awoke
finally amid deafening strains of music. It was, moreover, principally
from my bedroom that I took in the life of the outer world during this
period. I know that Bloch reported that, when he called to see me in
the evenings, he could hear the sound of conversation; as my mother
was at Combray and he never found anybody in my room, he concluded
that I was talking to myself. When, much later, he learned that
Albertine had been staying with me at the time, and realised that I
had concealed her presence from all my friends, he declared that he
saw at last the reason why, during that episode in my life, I had
always refused to go out of doors. He was wrong. His mistake was,
however, quite pardonable, for the truth, even if it is inevitable, is
not always conceivable as a whole. People who learn some accurate
detail of another person's life at once deduce consequences which are
not accurate, and see in the newly discovered fact an explanation of
things that have no connexion with it whatsoever.

When I reflect now that my mistress had come, on our return from
Balbec, to live in Paris under the same roof as myself, that she had
abandoned the idea of going on a cruise, that she was installed in a
bedroom within twenty paces of my own, at the end of the corridor, in
my father's tapestried study, and that late every night, before
leaving me, she used to slide her tongue between my lips like a
portion of daily bread, a nourishing food that had the almost sacred
character of all flesh upon which the sufferings that we have endured
on its account have come in time to confer a sort of spiritual grace,
what I at once call to mind in comparison is not the night that
Captain de Borodino allowed me to spend in barracks, a favour which
cured what was after all only a passing distemper, but the night on
which my father sent Mamma to sleep in the little bed by the side of
my own. So it is that life, if it is once again to deliver us from an
anguish that has seemed inevitable, does so in conditions that are
different, so diametrically opposed at times that it is almost an open
sacrilege to assert the identity of the grace bestowed upon us.

When Albertine had heard from Fran├žoise that, in the darkness of my
still curtained room, I was not asleep, she had no scruple about
making a noise as she took her bath, in her own dressing-room. Then,
frequently, instead of waiting until later in the day, I would repair
to a bathroom adjoining hers, which had a certain charm of its own.
Time was, when a stage manager would spend hundreds of thousands of
francs to begem with real emeralds the throne upon which a great
actress would play the part of an empress. The Russian ballet has
taught us that simple arrangements of light will create, if trained
upon the right spot, jewels as gorgeous and more varied. This
decoration, itself immaterial, is not so graceful, however, as that
which, at eight o'clock in the morning, the sun substitutes for what
we were accustomed to see when we did not arise before noon. The
windows of our respective bathrooms, so that their occupants might not
be visible from without, were not of clear glass but clouded with an
artificial and old--fashioned kind of frost. All of a sudden, the sun
would colour this drapery of glass, gild it, and discovering in myself
an earlier young man whom habit had long concealed, would intoxicate
me with memories, as though I were out in the open country gazing at a
hedge of golden leaves in which even a bird was not lacking. For I
could hear Albertine ceaselessly humming:

For melancholy Is but folly,
And he who heeds it is a fool.
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Product Details

  • BN ID: 2940013768949
  • Publisher: WDS Publishing
  • Publication date: 1/7/2012
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • File size: 434 KB

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    Highly Recommended

    There's not a lot of action in this book. Marcel keeps Albertine with him in his home in Paris, restricting her freedom so much that she is nearly a prisoner. He goes back and forth emotionally over her. Sometimes she makes him jealous and he becomes obsessed with her, feeling that he must love her. Then when she is docile and obedient, he feels he is becoming bored with her. He wonders if she has actually made him a prisoner, and he would be better off without her.

    The other plot line involves Baron de Charlus, Morel, and the Verdurins. The Verdurins become angry with the Baron. To get even with him they decide to cause trouble between him and Morel.

    That's it as far as the plot is concerned. But once again you have Proust's beautiful prose, filled with many memorable passages. I am looking forward to reading the final two books in this series.

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