Sunday, March 11, 2012
The Verdurins: we're all good pals
Mme Verdurin has no first name in the novel, and she is a major character through the last volume, Time Regained.
Proust writes the Verdurins as self-loving egotists.
"Each 'new recruit' that the Verdurins failed to persuade that the evenings spent by other people, in other houses than theirs, were as dull as ditch-water, saw himself banished forthwith."
"...the Verdurins, who were not in the least afraid of a woman's having a lover, provided she had him in their company, loved him in their company and did not prefer him to their company, would say, 'Very well, then, bring your friend along.' And he would be engaged on probation, to see whether he was willing to have no secrets from Mme Verdurin, whether he was susceptible of being enrolled in the "little clan.'"
"Evening dress was barred, because you were all 'good pals' and didn't want to look like the 'boring people' who were to be avoided like the plague and only asked to the big evenings, which were given as seldom as possible and then only if it would amuse the painter or make the musician better known."
Swann, one of the "boring" aristocrats, penetrates the Verdurin empire to court Odette, who Proust calls a "demi-mondaine," a woman supported by a wealthy lover.