Proust notes – Combray

The life of the young narrator in Combray. So far he attends mass and reads, he listens to his old aunt and maid, and reports on the goings of the town residents. Proust frames scenes in an odd way–paragraphs give way to tangents that eventually (but without warning) lead back to the main story. At the midpoint of the Combray chapter and young Marcel has encountered Swann, who visits with him in the garden as he reads books.

None of this is boring or tiresome, and the humor keeps popping up in unexpected places, such as the manners that are adhered to or violated, and in the people themselves. A school chum of Marcel’s is Bloch, a Jewish kid who finds trouble as one finds sunlight.

II

A very funny family scene as they take to the aunt’s special times of meals and happenings on Saturdays. Everything in the house is moved up one hour on Sat, and the family in-joke is a delightful touch–this is the kind of stuff that kids, like the narrator, love.

III

More fun with Legrandin, a family friend and social gadfly, a snob who despises snobs. Our narrator notices his blustery manners and physicality, and at a dinner between the two, his mention of the name Guermantes sparks a near-fit of emotion in poor Legrandin. Swann’s way and the Guermantes way are at last explained as differing paths one takes from the narrator’s home–the family is big on long walks.

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