In the second part of the fourth volume in Marcel Proust's Remembrance of Things Past, the Narrator has returned to Balbec and reunited with his lover Albertine, though his suspicions of her lesbianism cause an intense jealousy and dissatisfaction within him. Aside from being a meditation on sexual desire and the destructiveness of envy, Proust also takes a withering look at social mores in Paris, critical of both aristocratic decadence and the moribund bourgeoisie. Neville Jason's melodious and dignified style seems to amplify the high distinction of Proust's classic, one of the more narratively focused volumes in Proust's novel.
In Sodom and Gomorrah (Cities of the Plain), Part I, the fourth volume of Marcel Proust's monumental, seven volume Remembrance of Things Past, Marcel continues his voyage of discovery through the homosexual world, where the affairs of the ageing Baron de Charlus lead to unexpected and hilarious adventures. But the discovery of a secret in the past of his mistress, Albertine, fills Marcel with fear and forces him to change his plans.
Consistent with all the other books in this series, this book too is a masterpiece. The writing is unparalleled, the subject matter is fascinating, the narration is classic. But this version leaves out too much.
What is most fascinating in this book is the author's relationship with Albertine. Everything else is interesting, but the magic happens when the author turns to his feelings on Albertine.
In the actual book, the last hundred pages is devoted to his growing desire, jealousy, and possessiveness towards his paramour, and provides a natural bridge to the next book, The Captive.
Unfortunately, this is all left out in this version. The narration ends very abruptly after a fairly inconsequential visit to Madame Verdurin's country home. What is left is still wonderful writing, but the core element is missing.
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Sodom et Gomorrhe is the fourth book of the seven-volume In Search of Lost Time / Rememberances. For audiobook purposes, it is divided into two parts, this being the second. As with this entire series, it is beautifully narrated by Neville Jason.
Warning: This book contains absolutely no nuclear submarines, espionage double agents or KGB poisoners. In compensation, it does feature a sort of duel, but this turns out more comic than tragic.
This particular section covers the increasing infatuation of the narrator with the intriguing Albertine during his second visit to Balbec, and his agonsing over her apparent lesbian tendencies. The social rivalries between Mme. de Cambremer n?e Legrandin and her tenant, Mme. Verdurin, at la Raspeli?re and a sham duel involving M. de Charlus inject high humour, while the machinations of the scheming violinist Charlie Morel provide a sinister undertone. A delightfully spiteful quote by M. de Charlus: "But I ordered champagne. Take away that filth, which has no connection with the worst champagne in the world. It is the emetic known as cup, which consists, as a rule, of three rotten strawberries swimming in a mixture of vinegar and soda-water.”
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