Short summary - Within a Budding Grove
Marcel Proust - Valentin Louis Georges Eugène Marcel Proust
The first family dinner with the Marquis de Norpois was remembered for a long time by Marcel. It was this rich aristocrat who persuaded his parents to let the boy go to the theater. The Marquis approved of Marcel's intention to devote himself to literature, but criticized his first sketches, while Bergotte called him a "flutist" for his excessive fascination with the beauties of style. The visit to the theater turned out to be a huge disappointment. It seemed to Marcel that the great Berma did not add anything to the perfection of "Phaedra" - only later he was able to appreciate the noble restraint of her playing.
Dr. Kotar was well-known to the Svans - he also introduced his young patient to them. From the caustic statements of the Marquis de Norpois to Marseille, the flock is clear that the current Swann is strikingly different from the previous one, who delicately kept silent about his high-society connections, not wanting to embarrass his bourgeois neighbors. Swann was now Odette's husband, bragging about his wife's success at every corner. Apparently, he made another attempt to conquer the aristocratic Saint-Germain suburb for the sake of Odette, once excluded from decent society. But Swann's most cherished dream was to introduce his wife and daughter into the salon of the Duchess of Guermantes.
At the Svans, Marcel finally saw Bergotte. The great old man of his childhood dreams appeared in the form of a squat man with a crustacean nose. Marcel was so shocked that he almost fell out of love with Bergot's books - they fell in his eyes along with the value of the Beautiful and the value of life. Only over time, Marcel realized how difficult it is to recognize genius (or even just giftedness) and what a huge role public opinion plays here: for example, Marcel's parents at first did not listen to the advice of Dr. Cotard, who first suspected asthma in the boy, but then became convinced that this vulgar and a stupid person is a great clinician. When Bergott praised Marcel's abilities, mother and father immediately felt respect for the insight of the old writer, although they had previously given unconditional preference to the judgments of the Marquis de Norpois,
Love for Gilberte brought Marseille continuous suffering. At some point, the girl became clearly burdened by his company, and he undertook a roundabout maneuver in order to reawaken interest in himself - he began to go to the Svans only during those hours when she was not at home. Odette played him a sonata by Venteuil, and in this divine music he guessed the secret of love - an incomprehensible and unrequited feeling. Unable to bear it, Marcel decided to see Gilberte again, but she appeared accompanied by a "young man" - much later it turned out that it was a girl, Tormented by jealousy, Marcel managed to convince himself that he had fallen out of love with Gilberte. He himself had already gained experience of communicating with women thanks to Blok, who took him to the "merry house". One of the prostitutes was distinguished by a pronounced Jewish appearance: the hostess immediately christened her Rachel, and Marseille gave her the nickname "Rachel, you have been given to me" - for her amazing compliance even for a brothel.
Two years later, Marcel came with his grandmother to Balbec. He was already completely indifferent to Gilberte and felt as if he had been cured of a serious illness. There was nothing "Persian" about the church, and he experienced the collapse of yet another illusion. On the other hand, many surprises awaited him at the Grand Hotel. The Norman coast was a favorite vacation spot for aristocrats: the grandmother met the Marquis de Villeparisis here and, after much hesitation, introduced her grandson to her. In this way. Marseille was admitted to the "higher spheres" and soon met the great-nephew of the marquis - Robert de Saint-Loup. The young and handsome officer at first struck Marcel unpleasantly with his arrogance. Then it turned out that he had a gentle and trusting soul - Marcel was once again convinced how deceiving the first impression can be. The young people swore to each other in eternal friendship. Most of all, Robert valued the joys of intellectual communication: there was not an ounce of snobbery in him, although he belonged to the Guermantes family. He was indescribably tormented by the separation from his mistress. He spent all the money on his Parisian actress, and she told him to leave for a while - he annoyed her so much. Meanwhile, Robert enjoyed great success with women: however, he himself said that in this respect he was far from his uncle - Baron Palamedes de Charlus, with whom Marcel was still to meet. At first, the young man took the baron for a thief or for a madman, for he looked at him with a very strange, piercing and at the same time elusive look. De Charlus showed great interest in Marseilles and even honored his grandmother, who was concerned with only one thing - the poor health and sickness of her grandson.
Never before had Marcel felt such tenderness for his grandmother. Only once did she disappoint him: Saint-Loup offered to be photographed for memory, and Marcel with irritation noted the old woman's vain desire to look better. Many years later, he will understand that his grandmother already had a presentiment of her death. A person is not given to know even the closest people.
On the beach, Marseille saw a company of dazzlingly young girls who looked like a flock of cheerful seagulls. One of them jumped at a run over the frightened old banker. At first, Marcel could hardly distinguish between them: they all seemed to him beautiful, bold, cruel. A full-faced girl in a bicycle hat pulled over her eyebrows suddenly glanced at him sideways - did she somehow distinguish him from the boundless universe? He wondered what they were doing. Judging by their behavior, these were spoiled girls, which inspired hope for intimacy - it was only necessary to decide which one to choose. At the Grand Hotel, Marseille heard the name that struck him - Albertina Simone. That was the name of one of Gilberte Swann's school friends.
Saint-Loup and Marseille were frequent visitors to a trendy restaurant in Rivebel. Once they saw in the hall the artist Elstir, about whom Swann was telling something. Elstir was already famous, although real fame came to him later. He invited Marcel to his place, and he, with great reluctance, yielded to the requests of his grandmother to repay the duty of politeness, for his thoughts were hushed up by Albertina Simone. It turned out that the artist knows perfectly well the girls from the beach company - they were all from very decent and wealthy families. Struck by this news, Marcel almost lost interest in them. Another discovery awaited him: in the studio he saw a portrait of Odette de Crécy and immediately remembered Swann's stories - Elstir was a frequent visitor to the Verduren salon, where he was called "Maestro Bish". The artist easily admitted this and added that he had wasted several years in the world. life.
Elstir arranged a "tea party?" And Marcel finally met Albertina Simone. He was disappointed, for he hardly recognized the cheerful, plump girl in a bicycle cap. Albertine looked too much like other young beauties. But Marcel was even more struck by the shy, delicate Andre, whom he considered the most impudent and decisive of the whole "flock" - after all, it was she who scared the old man on the beach half to death.
Both girls liked Marcel. For some time he hesitated between them, not knowing which one is more dear to him, but one day Albertina threw him a note with a declaration of love, and this decided the matter. He even imagined that he had achieved consent to intimacy, but his very first attempt ended in failure: Marcel, who had lost his head, came to his senses when Albertine began to violently tug on the bell cord. The stunned girl told him later that none of her boy friends had ever allowed himself anything like that.
Summer was over, and it was a sad time of departure. Albertina was among the first to leave. And in the memory of Marseille, a flock of young girls on the sandy strip of the beach forever remained.