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In The Captive, the Narrator has secluded Albertine is his Paris apartment. He continues to see the Verdurins, whose salon now includes Charlus and Morel. Whenever he allows Albertine to go out his jealousy is rekindled. During one of her outings, he plays on the piano Vinteuil's music which leads to a meditation on art. Bergotte dies at the Louvre in front of Vermeer's View of Delft, an incident that inspires a meditation on literature and painting.

The Verdurins quarrel with Charlus and humiliate him in front of Morel after a soirée at which an unknown masterpiece by Vinteuil was played before a select audience invited by Charlus. Music is said to be the "communication of souls." When Albertine remains secluded and the Narrator is certain of her presence, he grows indifferent to her. Ultimately, he decides to break with her and leave for Venice. The next morning, he awakens to the news that it is she who has left him.

Lecture 19


The Captive contains, among other things, a detailed analysis of love and jealousy. The irony is that it’s Marcel, who has become the prisoner, as much as if not more so than Albertine. Marcel swings constantly back and forth like a pendulum between feeling that he is not in love with Albertine and longing to be rid of her and suffering from obsessive jealousy at the slightest sign or even thought she might be betraying him with another woman.

Lecture 20

The street cries of paris

Proust presents a variety of vendors hawking fruits, vegetables, periwinkles, and various mending services. To capture their voices and styles, he evokes a number of musical works, including Moussorgsky’s Boris Godunov and Debussy’s Pelléas and Mélisande, as well as Palestrina and Gregorian chants. Those familiar with George Gershwin’s Strawberry Song from Porgy and Bess can readily appreciate the possibilities. Those vendors from Proust’s time were captured in black and white photographs by Eugène Atget.

Lecture 21

the vinteuil septet

Marcel’s meditation on Vinteuil’s sonata and Wagner’s music left him with disturbing doubts about the reality and importance of art. These doubts are soon dispelled when he attends a concert where he hears the Vinteuil septet for the first time. Vinteuil’s masterpiece will serve as the great synthesizer for Marcel’s entire experience up to this point. But, as we shall see, he will be unable to free himself from his obsession with Albertine and will, for most of his adult life, remain a passive witness, like the supine Aunt Léonie at her window in Combray rather than become a powerful creator like Wagner or Vinteuil.

Lecture 22

the inflexible bars of gold

Accompanied by Brichot, Marcel is returning home, where Albertine awaits him. He listened to Brichot, and he was not alone with him. As, for that matter, he had never ceased to feel since he left home that evening, he felt himself, in however obscure a fashion, tied fast to the girl who was at that moment in her bedroom. The bars of gold of the lighted window seen from the street remind him of his eternal slavery.

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