Saturday, July 15, 2006

Characters

I've read up to the end of the first part of "Combray" and I must say I am enjoying Proust very much. It strikes me that he writes in a sort of literary hyperlink where you have this guy in bed with insomnia and you get to the part about laying a certain way and there is a link and you click on it and it takes you to Combray where little Marcel can't sleep because he did not get a kiss from his Mama.

At Combray we meet quite a cast of characters. The family cracks me up. Grandma taking a walk in the garden no matter the weather and her reconnaisance missions when someone rings the doorbell. The aunts who want to thank Swann for the wine and think that by saying some neighbors are really good they are being so very clever and Swann will take the compliment and think them so witty. Grandpa, who also has trouble saying what he means, trying to manipulate Swann to talk about a certain subject. And the whole family thinking they are above Swann in social standing and those, but not them, who associate with Swann drop a little lower in their view. But in reality Swann has a higher social standing than the family does and he is the one paying them a compliment rather than the other way around. Hilarious, with such subtlety. The way Proust develops these characters with the use of choice detail is enjoyable. I can see the family sitting in the garden, know who they are, what they like and don't like without having more than a few descriptive things said about them.

There is much in these first pages to talk about, but I had to bring up the pleasure the quirky characters provide before getting to the more serious stuff.

4 Comments:

Blogger Dorothy W. said...

I wrote my own post before reading yours, and I'm glad to know we noticed some of the same things, particularly the humor! That was a surprise to me, how funny it was. I expected unrelieved seriousness, and I'm glad that's not what I'm finding.

9:17 AM  
Blogger Dorothy W. said...

Oh, and I like your hyperlink metaphor very much!

9:17 AM  
Blogger LK said...

You know, I really liked Francoise...she really perks things up.

10:51 AM  
Blogger Stefanie said...

I'm just getting introduced to Francoise, she seems like she will be quite entertaining!

6:13 PM  

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