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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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1,565194,676 (4.38)54
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 (15)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  Swedish (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (19)
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
Yeah this is one of the greatest novels of all time, but I’m getting pretty fed up of the long drawn out prose about nothing much in particular and endless social gatherings that tell us (again!) how disenchanted the narrator has now become of everyone he was, at one time 4 billion pages ago, oh so very enchanted with.

This one is supposed to have some kind of focus on “inversion” of homosexuality as it’s popularly called these days. It’s not really. It’s about endless social gatherings that tell us (again!) how disenchanted the narrator has now become of everyone he was, at one time 4 billion pages ago, oh so very enchanted with. Oops… I think I’ve repeated myself there.

Yes, Charlus gets involved with pretty much every pretty boy he lays his eyes on, but, apart from that, most of the “inversion” happens in the mind of the narrator and revolves around whether Albertine is toying not only with him but also her female companions. His jealousy is fairly neurotic as there’s virtually nothing he has to base this on.

There were sections I enjoyed, notably on sleep and how it seems to warp our experience of time. It got me thinking that Proust might have been far more successful if he’d just written a series of treatises on various topics: hawthorns, the landscape of the sea, sleep, jealousy, Madeleines, etc. At least we wouldn’t have had to wade through the literary morass of ‘endless social gatherings’ to get to the next island of genius. After all, when people discuss Proust, it’s these sublime descriptions they refer to, not his ability to render conversation into prose.

The narrator returns to Balbec and deepens his relationship with Albertine which really comes to the fore and sets the scene for the next volume. I quite enjoyed watching the effect of Albertine on the narrator and remembering back to phases in various relationships I’ve had over the years. Despite this, personally, I couldn’t wait to get to the end of this volume. The 660 plus pages seemed to take forever and I was very relieved to know that the last three are shorter… sometimes much shorter. I think I’m beginning to have my fill of Proust! ( )
  arukiyomi | Sep 13, 2014 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (48 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
Raboni, GiovanniTranslatorsecondary 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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:28 -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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