Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Proustian Rambling in Hanoi

Hello all. I am safe in Hanoi, having made it to the plane on time. It's wonderful not having to work, although I am feeling a little guilty about waking up late (at 9:30 am!). I'm sure I will get over this sense of guilt the moment I have to wake up on time for work next week. Sheesh.

The most strenous part of the day is having to decide where to go for breakfast, lunch, coffee and dinner. Oh, the decisions! The decadence! I suspect there will be weight-gain when I return - but what the hell.

I have been faithfully reading Sodom and Gomorrah. I suspect Robertson Davies will disapprove of the way I am reading though. I am approaching it with a sort of "end-gaining" attitude, where everyday I do page-count of my progress. There are 522 pages of Sodom and Gomorrah to conquer, and I am currently only on page 267.

I know I ought to just lie back and allow the waves of Proustian rumination to wash over me - but the fact is, the narrator often just goes on and on and on.

I'm on some juicy bits though. Narrator is now jealously guarding Albertine from insidious lesbians. His obsession with her sapphic adventures is amusing, though a little perverse.

I remember reading the biography on Natalie Clifford Barney, that Proust wanted to meet Barney to research the Female Inverts for his epic. It took forever to arrange a meeting, and when they did meet, Proust just spend the whole time talking, not listening. His portraits of the Parisian sapphos suffered from inaccuracies, as it was mainly from his own imagination.

Oh, M. de Charlus has reappeared. He has just hit on Morel. Oh, there he goes again.

M. de Charlus seemed to me to be one of those potentially tragic characters in the story. The narrator has begun describing his decline - his bloat of a paunch, the vulgar rouge on his lips and powder on his cheeks, all to disguise the toil of age. Yet his desire for virile, younger men is acute, unfulfilled. It cannot end well, I tell myself as I was reading it.

Maybe I should be reading happier books.


Anonymous said...

Oh what fun! I've got to get back to reading Proust. I'm still in the middle of Guermantes Way. Enjoy the reading and Hanoi!

Carl V. Anderson said...

Glad you made it safe and sound. Hope you enjoy being there and of course I will echo stefanie and always wish you joyful reading!!!

Ana S. said...

I'm glad you had a safe journey. What's this I hear about guilt? Being able to relax (and that includes waking up later) is what a holiday is all about :P

Have a wonderful time!

Rebecca H. said...

I'm glad you're having fun! I couldn't help but count the pages as I read Proust. It's ideal not to, but sometimes, it just can't be helped ...

Anonymous said...

haha! your descriptions of what you're reading make me laugh! :D