Tuesday, March 29, 2011

At class last night, I had left my book at home and didn’t have my notes and questions with me. Looking over my flagged pages this morning, I found a passage I had particularly wanted to ask everyone about - in Treharne it’s page 549, last paragraph, just before Macel arrives at Charlus’ house.

"But in the end, the stories I had heard at the Duchesse’s house, very different in this respect from the feelings aroused in me by the hawthorns or the taste of a madeleine, left me cold. Entering me for a moment and possessing me only physically, it was as though, being of a social, not an individual nature, they were anxious to escape."

That last sentence is what I find interesting. I wonder if Marcel is speaking of his muse here, saying that the things that are for him worthy of artistic effort are things of an individual nature, while those of a social nature are not worthy. When I read or hear poetry, I find that I tend to make this same sort of distinction. I “like” poems that are from the poet’s interior spaces; and I’m usually not as engaged by poems about external or social responses. (I emphasize “like” here; I’m not saying one’s better than the other.) For example, for me, W.S. Merwin’s and Robert Frost’s poems are “of an individual nature,” while Tony Hoagland’s are “of a social nature.” Reading Merwin or Frost is a powerful experience for me, whereas I don’t particularly like Hoagland’s poems. (Again, this is a personal preference. I’m not about to argue that Tony Hoagland isn’t a great poet!)

In trying to describe this distinction, I’m realizing that it’s a bit tricky. Merwin and Frost obviously write about things external to themselves, but what’s evoked in the poem is “individual.” Hoagland’s poems tend to evoke something social or collective. I wonder if this distinction is completely subjective, maybe just some unconscious prejudice, on my part. Does anyone have any thoughts?

Monday, March 28, 2011

In our current reading assignment (pp. 571 ff), Swann brings photos of the coins of the Order of Malta for la Duchesse to see. Le Duc stumbles over the Order's name : "I said Malta, but I meant Rhodes; in any case it's the same Order of St John of Jerusalem." It's actually all three. The Order was, and still is, a sovereign entity. Here's a link to the wikipedia page on the Order.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Here's news from a Celebrity Farm posting about Bonne Soiree, the French restaurant in Chapel Hill that we talked about as a prospect for a Proustian dinner out!

Some of you may be familiar with the Chapel Hill restaurant Bonne Soiree. To the sadness of anybody who has had the good fortune to enjoy their wonderful food and flawless service, chef/owners Chip Smith and Tina Vaughn have decided to close the restaurant on April 30th. The Independent published a very nice retrospective on Bonne Soiree, to which I can add very little. Tina has promised that wherever they end up, they'll find some way to get our goat cheese. (Years before they moved to Chapel Hill, they had a bistro at Kitty Hawk named Carolina Blue. Unbeknown st to us, Somehow our cheese was always on the menu, but I'd no idea how they got it there (Tina says that the wine truck brought)

Before Bonne Soiree opened, they hosted a dinner here at Celebrity Dairy. And, schedules permitting, they'll host a final dinner here after closing the restaurant. Probably our May 15th dinner.

I'm sad that alpha is followed by omega, but it will be a celebration you won't want to miss. I'll post confirming details about the sendoff dinner.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

I found an alternative opinion about who provides the model for Elstir:
Paul César Helleu 1859-1927

Helleu ... moved among literary circles and became great friends with Marcel Proust who based the character of the painter Elstir in "A la recherche du temps perdu" on his friend. He requested Helleu do his portrait on his deathbed; and in 1922 Helleu obliged with a profile done in drypoint.

From a blog, source cited as Kay Lopata Fine Art web site (kaylopatafineart.com)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Online version in French

I just found yet another online version of À la Recherche du Temps Perdu in French. I like this one, as opposed to the Project Gutenberg version because it has scanned images of the original books.

The main page linked to above shows you links to all 7 volumes of À la Recherche du Temps Perdu. If you click on any link, it will take you to a single page containing all the text for the book or chapter in question. To the left you will see little page numbers in square brackets. If you click on the page number, it will show you a single page with the transcribed text on the left and the original scanned image on the right. If you see any errors, you're invited to sign up and correct the text.

Friday, March 4, 2011

I'm reading an essay on Hayden Carruth (a great American poet who died in 2008) by Ted Solotaroff and came upon this striking example of artists as les grands nerveux: Solotaroff says "...In Carruth's case as in some notable others--those of Robert Lowell, John Berryman, Delmore Schwartz, Sylvia Plath, Theodore Roethke, Ann Sexton, Randall Jarrell--he cracked up and was institutionalized." That's quite a list! He goes on to say "Much has been written about the seeming contagion of madness among many of the best poets of the post war generation."