I loved the first Goodnight kiss. Marcel, a child, needs to be kissed by his mother to give him the calmness he needs to sleep. It has to be just right, or he will be distracted; and this evening he is so upset when he cannot kiss her that he needs her to sleep in his room all night. He could be six, or eighteen- his reading the novels of Bergotte at the time indicates older rather than younger- and even as an adult he needs the kiss of Albertine in order to sleep.
Strange that I should love that, when after his musings alone about Albertine, I felt embarrassment: he will be found out, everyone will see him as a fool. He cannot love. He needs to control Albertine, for if she escapes his sight for an hour he imagines her doing things he does not like, and when he remembers her dancing with Andrée he is convinced they were aroused by their breasts touching. When did he decide that Albertine was lesbian? Just before he decided he had to marry her. Some time after that dance, where Cottard put it in his mind, as a Scientific Certainty- women are aroused chiefly through the breasts.
I even came to tolerate the parties. In the first volume there is a woman who wants to talk to a much grander woman, yet is snubbed, and humiliated further by the narrator who says what a fool she is, as well as what a fool she appears. There are a lot of parties, and what each person says is analysed, and how they look, and how they relate. That analysis makes a fool of the child Marcel- imagine! He cannot sleep unless his mother kisses him! He cannot sleep unless Albertine kisses him! Having looked at him with a microscope, studying every angle, my complete knowledge of him produces Love.
The Baron de Charlus, similarly: chasing and bickering with his lover the violinist Morel, son of a lackey, or humiliated by Mme Verdurin after behaving as if her concert at her salon at her house was his, or recruiting lower class men for his homosexual sadomasochist brothel- the men are never as cruel as he wishes them to be, not really understanding the game- or taking on Marcel as his protégé, then raging apoplectically at him for seeing and talking to people without Charlus’ direction- I despise and love him.
Marcel and, separately, Swann, call upon the Duc and Duchesse de Guermantes just before the couple leave for a dinner party. Swann is dying: his doctors tell him he has only a few months to live. Basin is concerned that his cousin will die before he leaves for the evening, because then he will have to stay in, for propriety’s sake. If the man clings to life another hour, Basin can go out, and adopt mourning tomorrow.