Reading Proust IV

So after another hiatus of a couple months I returned to Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, only this time to tackle Volume IV (or “Season 4” as I like to think of it): Sodom and Gomorrah. The previous volume, The Guermantes Way, ended with a cliff-hanger: while on his way to visit the Duke de Guermantes to confirm whether the invitation he received to the Princess de Guermantes’ party is legitimate or not, Marcel witnesses something of such monumental importance that he tells the reader that he must wait until later to tell us what it is in order to dedicate enough time and space to its discussion. And so Volume IV resumes where we left off with Marcel poking around the flowers in the courtyard of the Hôtel de Guermantes. Hidden from view, he observes the Baron de Charlus and Jupien (a tailor who has a shop in the courtyard) silently striking strange (and somewhat comical) poses that Proust compares to flowers that openly display their reproductive parts in order to attract bees to come and pollinate them. When the two men disappear into the building, Marcel goes into an adjacent shop and listens through the wall to the two men having sex, thus introducing the theme of homosexuality to this volume.