A movie log formerly known as Bookishness / By Charles Matthews

"Dazzled by so many and such marvelous inventions, the people of Macondo ... became indignant over the living images that the prosperous merchant Bruno Crespi projected in the theater with the lion-head ticket windows, for a character who had died and was buried in one film and for whose misfortune tears had been shed would reappear alive and transformed into an Arab in the next one. The audience, who had paid two cents apiece to share the difficulties of the actors, would not tolerate that outlandish fraud and they broke up the seats. The mayor, at the urging of Bruno Crespi, explained in a proclamation that the cinema was a machine of illusions that did not merit the emotional outbursts of the audience. With that discouraging explanation many ... decided not to return to the movies, considering that they already had too many troubles of their own to weep over the acted-out misfortunes of imaginary beings."
--Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Proust Project, Day 12

Where this began
Day 11

Swann's Way (translated by Lydia Davis), pp. 146-158.

After the encounter with Gilberte, there are no more visits to Tansonville, but the family's walks continue. Along them, they sometimes encounter Mlle. Vinteuil -- Montjouvain, Vinteuil's home, lies along their route -- "driving a cabriolet at top speed." And then one year, "she was always accompanied by an older friend, a woman who had a bad reputation in the area and who one day moved permanently into Montjouvain." As the local gossips put it, Vinteuil "can be sure she's not dabbling in music when she's with his daughter."

Though "prudish," as the narrator has called him, Vinteuil is "incapable of any effort whose direct goal was not his daughter's happiness." The narrator comments that
it is remarkable how a person always inspires admiration for her moral qualities in the family of the person with whom she is having carnal relations. Physical love, so unfairly disparaged, compels people to manifest the very smallest particles they possess of goodness, of self-abnegation, so much that these particles glow even in the eyes of those immediately surrounding them.

Nevertheless, Vinteuil "saw himself and his daughter in the lowest depths, and because of this his manner had recently acquired that humility, that respect for those who were above him and whom he saw from below (even if they had been well below him until then)." When Vinteuil encounters Swann, whose "inappropriate marriage" has also put him in disgrace in the eyes of Combray, Swann invites him to "send his daughter to play at Tansonville." The invitation was one "which two years before would have incensed M. Vinteuil, but which now filled him with such feelings of gratitude that he believed he was obliged by them not to have the indiscretion of accepting it."

We jump ahead to
the autumn in which we had to come to Combray to settle my aunt Léonie's estate, because she had at last died, proving correct both those who had claimed that her enfeebling regimen would end by killing her, and those who had always maintained that she suffered from an illness that was not imaginary but organic, to the evidence of which the skeptics would certainly be obliged to yield when she succumbed to it.

Françoise's grief is
"savage," and "some demon" leads the narrator to tease her with his lack of sentiment over his aunt's death. She is especially provoked because the plaid wrap that the narrator puts on for his solitary walks in the direction of Tansonville, where he still hopes for a glimpse of Gilberte, is so out of keeping with the mourning for his aunt that she feels has been sadly deficient.

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