Short summary - The Guermantes Way
Marcel Proust - Valentin Louis Georges Eugène Marcel Proust
Marcel's family Moved into the wing of the Guermantes Mansion. Childhood dreams seemed to come to life, but never before had the border between the Saint-Germain suburb and the rest of the world seemed so insurmountable to the young man. Marcel tried to attract the attention of the Duchess, trapping her every way out of the house. Françoise also showed a great interest in the "downstairs," as she called the owners of the house, and often talked about them with her neighbor, the vest Jupienne. In Paris, Marseille came to the conclusion that snobbery is an integral feature of human nature: at all times people yearn to get closer to the "powerful of this world", and sometimes this desire turns into mania.
Marseille's dreams took on flesh when he received an invitation from the Marquis de Villeparisis. The magic circle of Guermantes opened before him. In anticipation of this most important event, Marseille decided to visit Robert de Saint-Loup, whose regiment was stationed in Doncières.
Saint-Loup was still consumed with a passion for his actress. This woman moved in intellectual circles: under her influence, Robert became a fierce defender of Dreyfus, while other officers mostly accused the "traitor".
For Marcel, his stay in Doncières proved to be beneficial. Exhausted by his unrequited love for the Duchess of Guermantes, he found a card of "Aunt Oriana" on Robert's table and began to beg his friend to put in a word for him. Robert agreed without further ado - however, the nephew's fervent recommendation did not make any impression on the duchess. And Marcel experienced one of the strongest shocks of his life when Robert finally introduced him to his mistress. It was Rachel, “Rachel, you have been given to me,” which Marcel did not even consider as a person. In the house of tolerance, she gave herself up for only twenty francs, and now Saint-Loup was throwing her thousands for the right to be tortured and deceived. Like Swann, Saint-Loup was unable to understand the true nature of Rachel and suffered severely because of a woman who was much inferior to him both in development and in position in society.
At a reception with the Marquise de Villeparisis, the main topic of conversation was the Dreyfus affair, which split the country into two camps. Marcel saw in him another confirmation of the fluidity and variability of human nature. Mrs Swann turned into a ferocious anti-drift ship when she realized that this was the best way to infiltrate the Saint-Germain suburb. And Robert de Saint-Loup announced to Marcel that he did not want to get acquainted with Odette, because this slut was trying to pass off her Jewish husband as a nationalist. But the most original approach was demonstrated by Baron de Charlus: since no Jew can become French, Dreyfus cannot be accused of treason - he just violated the laws of hospitality. Marcel noted with interest that the servants were imbued with the views of their masters: for example, his own butler stood by the mountain behind Dreyfus, while the German butler was anti-Dreyfusar.
Upon returning home, Marcel learned that his grandmother was very bad. Bergot recommended to see a well-known neuropathologist, and he convinced relatives that the grandmother's illness was caused by self-hypnosis. Mom very opportunely remembered Aunt Leonia, and grandmother was ordered to walk more. On the Champs Elysees, a light blow happened to her - it seemed to Marcel that she was fighting off an invisible angel. The correct diagnosis was made by Professor E. - it was a hopeless stage of uremia.
Grandma was dying painfully: she was convulsing, suffocating, suffering from unbearable pain. She was given morphine and oxygen, moxibustion was done, leeches were placed and she was driven to the point that she tried to throw herself out of the window. Marcel suffered from his powerlessness, and meanwhile life went on: relatives talked about the weather, Françoise took measurements in advance for a funeral dress, and Saint-Loup chose this moment to send an angry letter to a friend, clearly inspired by Rachel. Only Bergot, who himself was seriously ill, spent long hours in the house, trying to console Marcel. The dead face of his grandmother, as if transformed by the chisel of the sculptor-death, struck Marcel - it was young, like a girl's.
The Duke of Guermantes expressed condolences to the family of Marseille, and soon the young man received a long-awaited invitation to the house of his idols. Meanwhile, Robert de Saint-Loup finally broke with Rachel and made peace with his friend. Albertine again entered the life of Marcel, greatly changed and matured after Balbec. From now on, one could hope for bodily intimacy, which brought Marcel ineffable pleasure - he seemed to be freed from all his worries.
Undoubtedly, the Guermantes were a very special breed of people, and now Marseille could take a closer look at them, highlighting the inherent features of each. The duke constantly cheated on his wife: in fact, he loved only one type of female beauty and was in an eternal search for the ideal. The Duchess was famous for her wit and arrogance. But the most mysterious of all was the duke's brother, Baron de Charlus. Already at a reception with the Marquis de Villeparisis, he invited the young man to his place, but this was opposed by the extremely anxious mistress of the house. At the request of Saint-Loup, Marcel still went to the baron, who suddenly attacked him, accusing him of treachery and negligence. Furious, Marcel, not daring to raise his hand to a man older than himself, grabbed a cylinder lying on a chair and began to tear it, and then trampled it underfoot. De Charlus suddenly calmed down and the incident was settled.
Two months later, Marseille received an invitation from the Princess de Guermantes and at first thought it was a cruel joke - the beautiful princess's salon was the pinnacle of the Saint-Germain suburb. Marcel tried to question the duke, but he dismissed his request, not wanting to get into an awkward position. At the Duke's, Marseille met Swann, who looked completely ill. When he was invited to go to Italy, he replied that he would not live to see summer. The Duke, who was going to the costume ball, was extremely annoyed by Swann's "tactlessness" - at the moment he was only worried that the Duchess wore red shoes to a black dress.