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Sodom and Gomorrah: In Search of Lost Time,…

Sodom and Gomorrah: In Search of Lost Time, Volume 4 (Penguin Classics… (edition 2005)

by Marcel Proust, John Sturrock (Translator)

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1,506184,914 (4.4)49
Title:Sodom and Gomorrah: In Search of Lost Time, Volume 4 (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)
Authors:Marcel Proust
Other authors:John Sturrock (Translator)
Info:Penguin Classics (2005), Edition: Deluxe, Paperback, 576 pages
Collections:Your library

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Sodom and Gomorrah by Marcel Proust


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English (14)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  Swedish (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (18)
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
While I found some moments that were entertaining or interesting such as the narrators return to the subject of sleep and memory, mostly this section was an aggravation brought on by the game playing and jealousies of Marcel. ( )
  Kristelh | May 30, 2014 |
bookshelves: autumn-2013
Read on November 16, 2013

Desperate to avoid the tortures of love, Marcel tries to make himself unavailable to Albertine. Meanwhile, the Baron de Charlus suffers heartbreak. Stars James Wilby.

"I wonder if the guts of an aristocrat would stink like the guts of a peasant."

2* Swann's Way
2.5* Within a Budding Grove
3* The Guermantes Way
3.5* Sodom and Gomorrah ( )
  mimal | Jan 1, 2014 |
In which our protagonist learns that almost everyone, other than him, is gay. Like the Guermantes' Way, this is a comedy of manners combined with some amazing essays and penetrating psychology. There's not much to say about this volume that one couldn't say about GW, except for the homosexuality, which is an interesting twist. As I was reading it, I thought about Hollinghurst's 'Line of Beauty,' and wondered whether Proust would have been different, better or worse if he'd been able to accept his own sexuality a bit and write about it in a less distanced way. I honestly have no idea.

On a side note, I cried the first time I read the narrator's vision of his grandmother, and I cried this time too. ( )
  stillatim | Dec 29, 2013 |
He wrote this? And published it?

I heard that you can read the Albertine Cycle on its own – which consists of #5-6 and (optional) this #4. Since #4 was called Sodom and Gomorrah, and what brought me to Albertine’s story was its descent into the sexual underworld, I began here.

First I’ll say, this is a lively book, a trot of a read next to what I’ve read of #1 – aside from its racy subject matter. Here I found his endlessness mesmerising instead of stupefying, so that you sail along in a spell and the lack of paragraphs only mean you can’t put the book down. If you, like me, don’t fancy his childhood and adolescence, if you never lay awake for a kiss from your mother and can’t commit to seventy pages on the topic, then I can heartily recommend you do as I’ve done and pick up later books.

Before I’m distracted from his finer qualities I’ll remember to say, his observation of people is – beyond. He’s got to be the greatest observer out. Habits of mind and habits of interaction, that you recognise but haven’t expressed, he’s put there in clinical simplicity on the page, and this is the main joy of Proust. The rest of my review is about the racy bits.

He wrote this? He published this?

As cross-dressed, as queer, as convoluted as As You Like It. It reminds me of nothing so much. As cynical, as nostalgic... with more comedy of manners, though. Don’t believe the talk that this is negative towards inverts. Invert of course is a historical term he uses, and then, what’s inverted here? In Proust’s life Albertine was an Albert. Had he written about an Albert, and (for argument’s sake at the moment) his morbid fears of Albert running off with a woman, I’d want to bash myself over the head with this book. But invert that and what do you have? A crazy situation where the guy’s obsessively jealous of his girl’s Sapphists on the side. The plot lacks plausibility, and you know what? So does As You Like It. Possibly there were Sapphists behind every bush at Balbec – who’s to know? I say the entire edifice is implausible, and meant to be.

I’ve never read The Well of Loneliness because I’m afraid of the self-doubt and self-torment I may find in its pages. In Proust I didn’t find them, and why? He’s inverted everything. Thus he removes himself from Baron Charlus and can take on his famous scientific detachment, and vivisect him like an insect. And thus he makes his love story, that isn’t detached, comic. He has cross-dressed them into a comic distance, where he can write without self-pity or self-hatred. How else do you do it, in his time? Like Radclyffe Hall, but as I say, I’ve cringed to read her. It’s not that he’s disguised himself – he’s told us in his girls’ masculine names and in the simple contemplation how he knows so bloody much about Baron Charlus’ tribe. That’s why it’s like a cross-dressed Shakespeare play. You scratch your head over the permutations, and he can work on several levels. I think it’s an inspired strategy that happens to be very, very funny.

Insofar as he waxes scientific he’s going to be outmoded, obviously, by new science. For a start, though, he’s of historical interest, isn’t he? And he is Proust. I have to point out, while he explains these men as women on the inside, he says once, this only goes for his time and place. In other climes the phenomenon can be quite different: they weren’t women-men in Ancient Greece. Who’s to argue with him? Weren’t they so straitened into their two sexes that this is the way they acculturated themselves? Here’s where you need a Shakespeare play, to shake up that straitjacket thinking – I’m convinced Proust is doing his best.

His infatuation with Albertine is stoked like an engine by jealousy. Shovel in jealousy and he’s infatuated again, although he was just about to dump her. It’s that pathological – and that absurdist, and hilarious. I never had the least interest in jealousy as a motive in fiction. However, this is different. Sapphists are worse to him because he cannot rival them – nor even imagine what they do for his mistress, he says. If the fuel of this (when uninverted) is the fear and anxiety that your love is going to run off with the ‘right’ sex, because it’s so much easier and because you’re only an invert – then I can understand the pathology. There’s no guilt in evidence, on Proust’s part, for what he was, just this indirect portrait of ghastly self-doubt. – And I’ve contradicted what I said above, about no Well-of-Loneliness style self-doubt. His technique takes away the pain, but not the insight.

My understandings of the book, of course, are my own and no fault of Proust’s.
Also I may change my mind with #5-6; I’ve read this in isolation. ( )
1 vote Jakujin | Nov 25, 2013 |
When they are happy, calm, satisfied with their surroundings, we marvel at their precious gifts; it is the truth, literally, that speaks through their lips. A touch of headache, the slightest prick to their self-esteem, is enough to alter everything. The luminous intelligence, become brusque, convulsive and shrunken, no longer reflects anything but an irritable, suspicious, teasing self, doing everything possible to displease.

It was indeed the corrupting effect, as it was also the charm, of this country round Balbec, to have become for me a land of familiar acquaintances; if its territorial distribution, its extensive cultivation, along the entire length of the coast, with different forms of agriculture, gave of necessity to the visits which I paid to these different friends the aspect of a journey, they also reduced that journey to the agreeable proportions of a series of visits.
This book was both the easiest and the most tedious of the series to date, in that the pages flowed faster under my Proust-accustomed gaze, but only on the days that I didn’t pass over it in favor of other works. It also didn’t help that, unlike the previous installations in the series, I finished the last twenty or so pages in a state of aggravated fury brought upon not by incomprehension, but the clearest understanding one could possibly hope for. As I can’t do anything unusual, especially in matters relating to literature, without my mind immediately latching onto the issue and needling the reason out it, I will explain myself here.

I am a great believer in the powers of empathy when it comes to literature, to the point that if a disagreeable character appears, I immediately keep an especial eye on them and their circumstances in the hopes of finding something to improve my favorable understanding of them. In previous works Proust has been a consummate master at this, delving as deeply as he does into the human psyche at every turn and rendering nearly every action of seeming insipidness and stupidity into something I recognize as being capable of myself, the insufferable human condition rendered sufferable and as a result granting valuable learning. The difficulty of his prose simply made the journey a slow and contemplative one, whose culminations bloomed as grandly and as gorgeously as if one had spent a lifetime watching a single seed languorously shoot and spread into the most awe inspiring of cathedrals. Simply put, the effort was well worth it.

The problem, of course, is when the beauty and thoughtful meanderings can no longer excuse the idiocy, and one becomes frustrated not only with the actions, but even moreso with the attempts of the book to cloak the actions with the same softening colors that previously delighted the reader, attempts that fail again and again.

I have to mention here that I am a very reserved person, in the effect that while I feel as rapidly and as strongly as Proust so often describes, I do not act on it. As a result, I have an extremely low tolerance for ridiculous heights of selfish idiocy, something that I have observed in the narrator as well as other characters in ISOLT but was able to forgive when offered with wonderful passages of crystalline insight. There is also my extreme dislike of stereotyping, especially with regards to multitudes of varied souls that populate humanity in seemingly discriminate bunches. In effect, these two aspects of my personality lessened my compatibility with this book, something that saddens me but cannot be helped.

For the book is called Sodom and Gomorrah, and when it comes to the quote of Beckett that proclaims that in the book, Homosexuality…is as devoid of moral implications… as the sexual patterns of flowers, I have to disagree, and instead find favor with the quote of André Gide, Will you never portray this form of Eros for us in the aspect of youth and beauty?, for while Proust never outright condemns it, he does everything but. There is no contemplative empathy, no beautifying of another form of love, nothing but ridiculous theories on the ways homosexuals act and come into contact with another, mockeries of those who are severely mistaken in their belief that their secret is safe, little skits of insipid jealousy with none of the compassion that Swann’s own efforts were treated. No, instead the narrator glorifies his own labors of love in all their hypersensitive irrationality, and resigns himself to a lifetime of torment not when his grandmother dies, but when he believes the girl whom he casually treats as a sexual play toy is doing the same with others of her own gender.

I won’t deny that many of the society events were amusing, and that every so often a sentence full with inherent truth would crop up, or that the pages detailing grief were as heartrending as one of Proust’s skill could make them. However, all this together wasn't enough, and ultimately the frustrating misconceptions in regards to homosexuality, the aggravating viciousness of many of the shallower characters, and finally the repulsive selfishness of the narrator himself all sounded the death knell for that fifth star.

Perhaps I have grown too used to Proust’s prose, or maybe his own tools of immense perception backfired on him when he concerned himself with this particular subject that impacted his life no matter how much he denied it to himself. All I know is this time, it didn’t work out nearly as well as previous times when I and the book ended our journey together with a joyous skipping off into the sunset. I hope that results prove better with the succeeding works. ( )
  Korrick | Sep 12, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (49 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Proust, Marcelprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Berges, ConsueloTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Enright, D. J.Translation revisionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kilmartin, TerenceTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Scott Moncrieff, C. K.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tuomikoski, InkeriTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0143039318, Paperback)

Sodom and Gomorrah—now in a superb translation by John Sturrock—takes up the theme of homosexual love, male and female, and dwells on how destructive sexual jealousy can be for those who suffer it. Proust’s novel is also an unforgiving analysis of both the decadent high society of Paris and the rise of a philistine bourgeoisie that is on the way to supplanting it. Characters who had lesser roles in earlier volumes now reappear in a different light and take center stage, notably Albertine, with whom the narrator believes he is in love, and the insanely haughty Baron de Charlus.

First time in Penguin Classics
A Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition with French flaps and luxurious design
The first completely new translation of Proust's novel since the 1920s

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:43:47 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

The fourth installment of Marcel Proust's autobiographical novel, in which the narrator witnesses an encounter between the Baron de Charlus and the tailor Jupien, opening his eyes to a world hitherto hidden from him. Meanwhile, his love for Albertine is poisoned by the suspicion that she is attracted to her own sex.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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