He begins staking out the street where Mme de Guermantes walks every day, to her evident annoyance. He decides to visit her nephew Saint-Loup at his military base, to ask to be introduced to her. After noting the landscape and his state of mind while sleeping, the Narrator meets and attends dinners with Saint-Loup's fellow officers, where they discuss the Dreyfus Affair and the art of military strategy. But the Narrator returns home after receiving a call from his aging grandmother. Mme de Guermantes declines to see him, and he also finds he is still unable to begin writing.
Saint-Loup visits on leave, and they have lunch and attend a recital with his actress mistress: Rachel, the Jewish prostitute, toward whom the unsuspecting Saint-Loup is crazed with jealousy.
The Narrator then goes to Mme de Villeparisis's salon , which is considered second-rate despite its public reputation. Legrandin attends and displays his social climbing. Bloch stridently interrogates M. The Narrator observes Mme de Guermantes and her aristocratic bearing, as she makes caustic remarks about friends and family, including the mistresses of her husband, who is M.
Mme Swann arrives, and the Narrator remembers a visit from Morel, the son of his uncle Adolphe's valet, who revealed that the "lady in pink" was Mme Swann. At home, the Narrator's grandmother has worsened, and while walking with him she suffers a stroke. The family seeks out the best medical help, and she is often visited by Bergotte, himself unwell, but she dies, her face reverting to its youthful appearance.
Several months later, Saint-Loup, now single, convinces the Narrator to ask out the Stermaria daughter, newly divorced. Albertine visits; she has matured and they share a kiss. The Narrator then goes to see Mme de Villeparisis, where Mme de Guermantes, whom he has stopped following, invites him to dinner.
Retrieved Proust paid for the publication of the first volume by the Grasset publishing house after it had been turned down by leading editors who had been offered the manuscript in longhand. Notify me of new comments via email. Albertine visits; she has matured and they share a kiss. Show trail tool tip.
The Narrator daydreams of Mme de Stermaria, but she abruptly cancels, although Saint-Loup rescues him from despair by taking him to dine with his aristocratic friends, who engage in petty gossip. Saint-Loup passes on an invitation from Charlus to come visit him.
The next day, at the Guermantes's dinner party, the Narrator admires their Elstir paintings, then meets the cream of society, including the Princess of Parma, who is an amiable simpleton. He learns more about the Guermantes: their hereditary features; their less-refined cousins the Courvoisiers; and Mme de Guermantes's celebrated humor, artistic tastes, and exalted diction although she does not live up to the enchantment of her name.
The discussion turns to gossip about society, including Charlus and his late wife; the affair between Norpois and Mme de Villeparisis; and aristocratic lineages. Leaving, the Narrator visits Charlus, who falsely accuses him of slandering him. The Narrator stomps on Charlus's hat and storms out, but Charlus is strangely unperturbed and gives him a ride home. Months later, the Narrator is invited to the Princesse de Guermantes's party.
He tries to verify the invitation with M. They will be attending the party but do not help him, and while they are chatting, Swann arrives. Now a committed Dreyfusard, he is very sick and nearing death, but the Guermantes assure him he will outlive them. The Narrator describes what he had seen earlier: while waiting for the Guermantes to return so he could ask about his invitation, he saw Charlus encounter Jupien in their courtyard.
The two then went into Jupien's shop and had intercourse.
The Narrator reflects on the nature of " inverts ", and how they are like a secret society, never able to live in the open. He compares them to flowers, whose reproduction through the aid of insects depends solely on happenstance. Arriving at the Princesse's party, his invitation seems valid as he is greeted warmly by her. He sees Charlus exchanging knowing looks with the diplomat Vaugobert, a fellow invert. After several tries, the Narrator manages to be introduced to the Prince de Guermantes, who then walks off with Swann, causing speculation on the topic of their conversation.
Mme de Saint-Euverte tries to recruit guests for her party the next day, but is subjected to scorn from some of the Guermantes. Charlus is captivated by the two young sons of M. Saint-Loup arrives and mentions the names of several promiscuous women to the Narrator. Swann takes the Narrator aside and reveals the Prince wanted to admit his and his wife's pro-Dreyfus leanings. Swann is aware of his old friend Charlus's behavior, then urges the Narrator to visit Gilberte, and departs. The Narrator leaves with M. He grows frantic when first she is late and then calls to cancel, but he convinces her to come.
He writes an indifferent letter to Gilberte, and reviews the changing social scene, which now includes Mme Swann's salon centered on Bergotte. He decides to return to Balbec, after learning the women mentioned by Saint-Loup will be there. At Balbec, grief at his grandmother's suffering, which was worse than he knew, overwhelms him. He ponders the intermittencies of the heart and the ways of dealing with sad memories. His mother, even sadder, has become more like his grandmother in homage.
Albertine is nearby and they begin spending time together, but he starts to suspect her of lesbianism and of lying to him about her activities. On the way to visit Saint-Loup, they meet Morel, the valet's son who is now an excellent violinist, and then the aging Charlus, who falsely claims to know Morel and goes to speak to him. The Narrator visits the Verdurins, who are renting a house from the Cambremers. On the train with him is the little clan: Brichot, who explains at length the derivation of the local place-names; Cottard, now a celebrated doctor; Saniette, still the butt of everyone's ridicule; and a new member, Ski.
The Verdurins are still haughty and dictatorial toward their guests, who are as pedantic as ever. Charlus and Morel arrive together, and Charlus's true nature is barely concealed. The Cambremers arrive, and the Verdurins barely tolerate them. Back at the hotel, the Narrator ruminates on sleep and time, and observes the amusing mannerisms of the staff, who are mostly aware of Charlus's proclivities.
The Narrator and Albertine hire a chauffeur and take rides in the country, leading to observations about new forms of travel as well as country life. The Narrator is unaware that the chauffeur and Morel are acquainted, and he reviews Morel's amoral character and plans towards Jupien's niece. The Narrator is jealously suspicious of Albertine but grows tired of her.
She and the Narrator attend evening dinners at the Verdurins, taking the train with the other guests; Charlus is now a regular, despite his obliviousness to the clan's mockery. He and Morel try to maintain the secret of their relationship, and the Narrator recounts a ploy involving a fake duel that Charlus used to control Morel. The passing station stops remind the Narrator of various people and incidents, including two failed attempts by the Prince de Guermantes to arrange liaisons with Morel; a final break between the Verdurins and Cambremers; and a misunderstanding between the Narrator, Charlus, and Bloch.
The Narrator has grown weary of the area and prefers others over Albertine. But she reveals to him as they leave the train that she has plans with Mlle Vinteuil and her friend the lesbians from Combray which plunges him into despair.
He invents a story about a broken engagement of his, to convince her to go to Paris with him, and after hesitating she suddenly agrees to go immediately. The Narrator tells his mother: he must marry Albertine. He marvels that he has come to possess her, but has grown bored with her. The Narrator gets advice on fashion from Mme de Guermantes, and encounters Charlus and Morel visiting Jupien and her niece, who is being married off to Morel despite his cruelty towards her. Albertine, who is more guarded to avoid provoking his jealousy, is maturing into an intelligent and elegant young lady.
The Narrator is entranced by her beauty as she sleeps, and is only content when she is not out with others. She mentions wanting to go to the Verdurins, but the Narrator suspects an ulterior motive and analyzes her conversation for hints. The Narrator compares dreams to wakefulness, and listens to the street vendors with Albertine, then she departs. He remembers trips she took with the chauffeur, then learns Lea the notorious actress will be at the Trocadero too. When she returns, they go for a drive, while he pines for Venice and realizes she feels captive. He learns of Bergotte's final illness.
That evening, he sneaks off to the Verdurins to try to discover the reason for Albertine's interest in them. He encounters Brichot on the way, and they discuss Swann, who has died. Charlus arrives and the Narrator reviews the Baron's struggles with Morel, then learns Mlle Vinteuil and her friend are expected although they do not come. Morel joins in performing a septet by Vinteuil, which evokes commonalities with his sonata that only the composer could create.
Mme Verdurin is furious that Charlus has taken control of her party; in revenge the Verdurins persuade Morel to repudiate him, and Charlus falls temporarily ill from the shock. Returning home, the Narrator and Albertine fight about his solo visit to the Verdurins, and she denies having affairs with Lea or Mlle Vinteuil, but admits she lied on occasion to avoid arguments.
He threatens to break it off, but they reconcile. He appreciates art and fashion with her, and ponders her mysteriousness.
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The Narrator is anguished at Albertine's departure and absence. He dispatches Saint-Loup to convince her aunt Mme Bontemps to send her back, but Albertine insists the Narrator should ask, and she will gladly return. The Narrator lies and replies he is done with her, but she just agrees with him. Desperate, he begs Albertine to return, but receives word: she has died in a riding accident. The Narrator plunges into suffering amid the many different memories of Albertine, intimately linked to all of his everyday sensations.
He recalls a suspicious incident she told him of at Balbec, and asks Aime, the headwaiter, to investigate. He recalls their history together and his regrets, as well as love's randomness. Aime reports back: Albertine often engaged in affairs with girls at Balbec. The Narrator sends him to learn more, and he reports other liaisons with girls.
The Narrator wishes he could have known the true Albertine, whom he would have accepted. He begins to grow accustomed to the idea of her death, despite constant reminders that renew his grief. The Narrator knows he will forget Albertine, just as he has forgotten Gilberte.