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0469 | ISOLT V: The Captive | Marcel Proust

0469 | ISOLT V: The Captive | Marcel Proust post image

Context: Read this while Mrs Arukiyomi and I celebrated 20 years of marriage together.

Volume 5 focuses more on the tangled relationship between the narrator and Albertine than any of the others. Things come to a crisis just at the end of the volume and set the stage for the next. To a certain extent then, it’s important to follow both the events  that take place between the couple as well as the many events that take place in the mind of the narrator.

Both these volumes contain the most  paranoid musings of the entire 3800 page novel. At times, I found these made me want to give him a good hard slap. But as a literary device, Proust expertly gives you no other view of Albertine than that given to you by the narrator. It made me wonder whether I also was supposed to be captive as I read it, captive in the thought process that Proust entraps the reader within.

Albertine is living with the narrator and obviously involved in some kind of physical relationship with him but this is not explicitly described. Their relationship, at least to his mind, is much more psychological in any case, and he spends lengthy interludes musing on where Albertine might be, who she might be with and why. You never quite know for sure whether he’s paranoid or he’s being messed around and that means you spend much of the volume shifting your opinion of both the main characters around.

Finally there’s the continual reflections on homosexuality which also form a major undercurrent throughout this volume and in particular the supposed relationship between Albertine and Andree.

This isn’t the longest volume in the novel and that’s probably a good thing because this is quite an intense episode and you find yourself getting a bit fed up of the fact that their relationship (or perhaps the narrator himself) never seems to get on an even keel. There are more notable sections where Proust muses on various aspects of life, memorably the distinction, or lack of it, between sleep and wakefulness. This volume is one of the more engaging parts of the novel and a pretty good read.


At daybreak, my face still turned to the wall, and before I had seen above the big inner curtains what tone the first streaks of light assumed, I could already tell what kind of day it was.


“She was one of those women who can never distinguish the cause of their sensations. The pleasure that they derive from a smooth cheek they explain to themselves by the moral qualities of the man who seems to offer them a possibility of future happiness, which is capable, however, of diminishing and becoming less necessary the longer he refrains from shaving.”

“Nature hardly seems capable of giving us any but quite short illnesses. But medicine has annexed to itself the art of prolonging them”


This might reveal the ending. If you want to see the quote, click show

PROGRESS captivep
RATING No individual ratings for each volume. I’ll be rating the entire novel at the end of the last volume.
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