Friday, December 31, 2010

Facebook Which Proust character are you?


New Years Eve and time to relax. Facebook has some amusing quizzes - 'Which Shakespearean character are you?'  Rosalinde, 'Which fairytale character are you?' 'Alice in Wonderland' so how about 'Which character from Search for Lost Time are you?' 'Albertine? Odette? Oriane? The Baron de Charlus?'

Wait a minute! 'Search for Lost Time?' What's that? Yes I know it is hard to believe but quite a few of us have never read the finest novel in the world by Marcel Proust. Its twelve volumes are slightly daunting and you do need 'plenty of time in bed' but for those of you who haven't 'read it' it is worth the effort. To do the quiz you obviously have to have read the book.

The choice of characters is mouthwatering over 2000 and most of them very memorable but I am limited to the female characters so lets have a go. I am not 'Albertine' She is too androgynous for me. She could be male or female and was the' Narrator's' greatest love. She was attractive and self confident but I am not she. I am 'all' woman.

I am not 'Oriane' the witty and beautiful 'Duchess of Guermantes'. She is too aristocratic  for me and I am certainly not the dreaded 'Madam Verdurin', the social climber although she is so unpleasant I think many people think I am. 'Madam Verdurin' is too sharp, clever and ruthless for me. She wins her social race and becomes 'The Princess de Guermantes'  the pinnacle of Parisian society when it no longer matters. I lost my career to a vicious woman because I was simply too nice.

'Odette Swan' the  pretty clever little courtesan who marries the courtier 'Charles Swann'  now there is a possibility. 'Swann' had the misfortune to love 'Odette' beyond all reason so that although 'Odette' was 'not his style' he gave up his influential position in society and married her. I feel sure my husband who was much older and far more formally educated than I may have felt I was 'Odette' but despite everything he married me much to the surprise of his family.

'Odette' was a high class courtesan who knew how to deal with men. She was very intelligent in this area When she knew a man actually loved her she knew she could treat him with disdain and still keep him panting for more. She knew that the way to a man's heart was to be able to say 'No I cannot come to dinner with you tonight' and then go on to tell him how she was enjoying herself without him.

Yes I was middlle class and uneducated but I am a one guy woman. When I love I love forever and 'Odette' in truth never loved 'Swann'.

So whose left? Well 'Gilberte, 'Odette' and 'Swann's' daughter and the 'Narrator's 'first love. 'Gilberte' is ordinary, pretty, uneducated. She knows she must marry well but is not after social position although she does attain it when she marries for love sadly a man who is not worthy of her love.

'Gilberte' is nice! She maybe thoughtless but she is not unkind. She never promises the 'Narrator' anything but a social friendship but nevertheless is important in his life as the wife of his best friend.

So now it is your turn Which Proustian character are you? I hope this encourages you to read the book and find out.

The Baron de Charlus returned to Paris after a month in Balbec

These portraits are by David Richardson and his blog on Proust is well worth a visit.  

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