Wednesday, March 17, 2010

In Search of Lost Time

The Captive, Book V, Part One

The heart is infinitely impressionable regarding everything that concerns the life of a certain person, so that a lie from that person causes that heart intolerable spasms. Our mind may go on reasoning interminably during these spasms, but it does no more to mitigate them by taking thought we can soothe an aching tooth.
- Proust, The Captive, p 295

Jealousy is a major theme throughout In Search of Lost Time with the generosity of Proust's variations on this theme comparable to that encountered in the plays of Shakespeare. The theme appears in the first volume where Swann's love for Odette is colored by his jealousy:

"But then at once his jealousy, as though it were the shadow of his love, presented him with the complement, with the converse of that new smile with which she had greeted him that veryevening - and which now, perversely, mocked Swann and shone with love for another . . . With the result that he came to regret every pleasure that he tasted in her company, every new caress of which he had been so imprudent as to point out to her the delights, every fresh charm that her found in her," (Proust, Swann's Way)

In his discussion of Proust in "Where Shall Wisdom be Found?" Harold Bloom concludes that the only recourse of the jealous lover "is to search for lost time, in the hopeless hope that the aesthetic recovery of illusion and of experience alike will deceive him in a higher moder than he fears to have been deceived already."(p 256) This is where we find Marcel in his tortuous relationship with Albertine in The Captive. Just as in the examples of Swann and Odette or Charlus and Morel, before him Marcel succumbs to his deepest fears of the activities of Albertine with others. His passion for her was like an elevtric current and the jealousy, rahter than a breaker, was fuel for the fires of his passion.

The Captive & The Fugitive by Marcel Proust. Modern Library, New York. 2003 (1923)
Where Shall Wisdom be Found? by Harold Bloom. Riverhead Books, New York. 2004

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