Reading Proust III

So after a hiatus of a couple of months, during which I read other novels and story collections, I finally got back to the business of reading Proust, this time tackling the third volume, The Guermantes Way. And what a happy homecoming it was to meet all those familiar faces again! How nice it was to become reacquainted with our unnamed narrator (I understand that in Volume VI his name is finally revealed to be, not surprisingly, Marcel); the family servant, Francoise, who simultaneously dispenses equal (and hilarious) measures of both compassion and cruelty; and Marcel’s (let’s just call him that) charming and aristocratic friend, Robert St-Loup. Also back are Marcel's calculating and unctuous friend, Bloch; the aristocrats we first met at Balbec in Volume II, Mme. Villeparisis and that arrogant and irritating Baron de Charlus (the kind of character you love to hate!); and of course the narrator’s grandmother, mother and father (although the latter makes little more than a cameo appearance in this volume—more on that later).