Item description for Sodom and Gomorrah: (Cities of the Plain) (Remembrance of Things Past, 7) by Marcel Proust...
Since the original prewar translation there has been no completely new rendering of the French original into English. This translation brings to the fore a more sharply engaged, comic and lucid Proust. "In Search of Lost Time" is one of the greatest, most entertaining reading experiences in any language. As the great story unfolds from its magical opening scenes to its devastating end, it is the Penguin Proust that makes Proust accessible to a new generation. Each volume is translated by a different, superb translator working under the general editorship of Professor Christopher Prendergast, University of Cambridge.
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Marcel Proust was born in the Parisian suburb of Auteuil on July 10, 1871. He began work on In Search of Lost Time sometime around 1908, and the first volume, Swann's Way, was published in 1913. In 1919 the second volume, Within a Budding Grove, won the Goncourt Prize, bringing Proust great and instantaneous fame. Two subsequent installments--The Guermantes Way (1920-21) and Sodom and Gomorrah (1921)--appeared in his lifetime. The remaining volumes were published following Proust's death on November 18, 1922: The Captive in 1923, The Fugitive in 1925, and Time Regained in 1927.
Marcel Proust lived in Auteuil. Marcel Proust was born in 1871 and died in 1922.
Marcel Proust has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about Sodom and Gomorrah: (Cities of the Plain) (Remembrance of Things Past, 7)?
"The true persuasion of sexual jealousy": Harold Bloom Mar 2, 2007
Volume IV of "In Search of Lost Time" begins in the afternoon of the day of Princess of Guermantes's party, the one that Marcel had looked forward for so long as his definitive entrance into the world of high society. That afternoon, by spying on them, Marcel discovers with his own eyes, for the first time, homosexuality, in the form of an encounter between the depraved Baron de Charlus and the tailor Jupien, Marcel's neighbor in the property of the Guermantes. Later that evening, Marcel attends the party, attended also by a cast of characters like very few in literature: Charlus himself, a Swann close to his death, and others. The Dreyfuss cause keeps winning adepts, among them the very Prince and Princess of Guermantes, as the injustice of the sentence is revealed. In the party, Marcel continues on his way to disappointment about noblesse: they are people just like everyone else, only with grand names and big egos, but not much more.
Days later, with his mother, Marcel returns to Balbec, where, alone in his room he finally feels all the weight and sorrow of his grandmother's death, which had happened a year and a half before or so. It is a profound passage about the perception of death, everyday indifference to it, and the memories left to us by our beloved's passing away. In Balbec, Marcel reencounters with Albertine, in that perverted play of seduction and deceit, of attraction and rejection, which foreshadows a sick relationship. Disturbed by the graphic discovery of homosexuality, Marcel broods a lot about it. Two women who stay at the same hotel, and who openly show their lesbianism, awaken in Marcel a deep suspicion about Albertine's mysterious life, and so begins a torment of permanent jealousy, of anxiety and anguish which reminds the reader of the similar episode, in times gone by, of the beginning of the relationship between Swann and Odette. Meanwhile, Marcel has simultaneous relationships with a couple of maids of the hotel (literally simultaneous).
Marcel rents a car to go around with Albertine through the countryside and the coast, deepening his relationship with the capricious, naughty, annoying and elusive Albertine. In her company, he begins to frequent the little band of the social-climbing Verdurins (where Swann had met Odette years before), in the country estate they have rented from the Marquises of Cambremer. The central part of the book narrates that summer in Balbec and its surroundings, above all the wide mosaic of characters surrounding the Verdurins: insecure but arrogant Doctor Cottard and his simple wife; musician Vinteuil; the rustic and silent sculptor Ski; Professor Saniette, pathetic and constantly humiliated; and Madame Verdurin herself, presumptuous and increasingly successful in society. Over this fresco is shown the repulsive couple of Charlus and musician Morel, son of a former servant of the Prousts. Morel is the worst kind of climber and representative of sexual and moral corruption. In contrast with what happens in the first three volumes, here it seems that it is the nobles who yearn to be accepted in bourgeois society, and not the other way around. It is the bourgeois who attract interesting people: intellectuals, scientists, artists. Charlus makes a fool of himself big time, pretending everybody ignores his homosexuality, when in fact he is the target of cruel jokes and gossip. So continues the great saga of memory, sex, love, longing, and social observation of the XX Century.
Like in no one of the previous volumes, in this one the subject of homosexuality is analyzed in all its complexity. Marcel and Albertine's relationship forebodes hell. Charlus begins to sink. The bourgeois approach triumph. Like in all the previous volumes, what astounds the reader is Proust's immense power of microscopic vision to analyze individuals and dissect societies. It includes a magical reflection on dreams, as well as precious depictions of landscapes, sexual assaults, personalities and emotions.
Wonderful Jun 14, 2006
Sodom and Gomorrah makes it difficult for those who speak of Proust and attempt to reduce his grand work to mere flowery social observation. This is a bold and often disturbing installment of la recherché, as Marcel recalls brutal homosexual sadomasochism among two of the principle characters, and has to deal with great loss and self-loathing.
The narrator also returns us to the superficial world of the Verdurins, where Swann and Odette first made their interactions in Swann in Love.
Marcel falls deeply in love with Albertine, but later discovers that she has been involved in homosexual relationships with two women, mirroring Swann's problems with Odette. There are remarkable passages on the nature of love in here: "But if something brings about a violent change in the position of that soul in relation to us, shows us that it is love with others and not with us, then by beating of our shattered heart we feel that it is not a few feet away from us but within us that the beloved creature was. Within us, in regions more or less superficial" (pg. 720)
Sodom and Gomorrah is a deeply felt and complex development in Proust's extraordinarily full and beautiful search.
a splendid translation and my favorite volume thus far Jun 11, 2005
I am writing here of the "Penguin Proust" translation by John Sturrock. (Much of what appears on this page is misleading, with the editorial matter referring to an audiobook and many reader reviews to an earlier translation. Even first-sentence quote is not from Sturrock's translation!)
Of the four Penguin Proust volumes I've read so far, this is my favorite--a wonderfully funny study of society (if not of sex). Proust specializes in transformations. We'll be introduced to a character and led to believe that we know everything of importance about him, only to have him turn up in a later volume as entirely different. In this volume, the remote and terrible Baron de Charlus is tranformed a pathetic tubby, besotted by the pianist Morel (himself a bit of a transformation, since he first appeared in the novel as the son of a valet).
Marcel (the narrator) meanwhile finds himself more deeply involved with Albertine, herself probably a stand-in for a male secretary of Proust's, Alfred Agostinelli. To complicate matters, I see elements of this relationship not only in the Marcel-Albertine affair, but also in the Charlus-Morel romance. It's as if Proust divided his experience into two parts, giving the romantic elements to Marcel and the comic part to Charlus.
The two romances come together at the seaside salon of the awful Madame Verdurin, who is inexorably rising in the world. In one of Proust's hundred-page setpieces, the aristocratic baron has his first clash with the social-climbing Verdurins. I found myself cheering for Charlus, whom I'd earlier learned to dislike, because he is so genuine and she is such a fraud. And I know in my heart (and through my earlier readings of this great novel) that things are not going to turn out well for Charlus. Against all logic, Proust in one of his hundred-page dissections of French society is able to keep me on tenterhooks.
The less said about Albertine, the better. I am not one of those who find her/him a convincing character. So it is with a bit of apprehension that I now turn to volume five of the Proust Penguin, containing the two books of the "Albertine cycle."
But back to Sodom (as it were): this is a wonderful translation of a riveting story. If you stick with "In Search of Lost Time" thus far, you will know that you are in the middle of one of the great experiences of your life.
Men are from Sodom, women are from Gomorrah Oct 22, 2004
"Sodom and Gomorrah," the fourth volume of Proust's masterwork "In Search of Lost Time," contains two very long set pieces that strike me as amazing achievements in the entire canon of literature. The first is an evening party at the mansion of the Prince and Princess de Guermantes attended by Proust's young narrator despite his doubt about having been properly invited, and the second is a dinner at the seaside clifftop house of the Verdurins filled with absurd but fascinating conversation. These episodes combined cover hundreds of pages of narration yet never give the impression of being stretched because Proust evokes the natural importance in every detail and human gesture, as though the course of the world depended on every little thing that transpires.
These details unify under the banner of the entire novel into a series of fictionalized memories of Proust's social life as a young man making his way through Parisian aristocratic circles and observing the events which develop his artistic conscience. These memories tend to be romanticized visions of the past, wistful dreams of what he might have really wanted his life to be: "We dream much of paradise, or rather of a number of successive paradises, but each of them is, long before we die, a paradise lost, in which we should feel ourselves lost too."
The title of the volume implies love between men and women, and men and men, and women and women. Here, the young Marcel chronicles the torrid romances of the Baron de Charlus, brother of the Duke de Guermantes, whose salon was the focal arena of the previous volume. Upon his spying--innocently, not judgmentally--on de Charlus and Jupien the tailor in an act of sodomy, he expounds on the societal attitudes confronting male homosexuality and on the ways de Charlus must go about procuring younger men for himself, such as he does with a conceited young violinist named Morel.
Meanwhile, Marcel's love affair with Albertine, the pretty girl whom he met at the seaside resort of Balbec in Volume II, is progressing slowly but not smoothly. He notices that she, as Odette used to do with Charles Swann, is beginning to play games with his propensity for jealousy, flirting first with a girl named Andree and then with Marcel's friend, the soldier Saint-Loup. As the volume wraps up, Marcel resolves to marry her, hoping to draw her away from her Sapphic inclinations.
Proust portrays a wide range of colorful supporting characters, who I have no doubt are based on people he knew in real life. While staying at Balbec, Marcel meets an eccentric family named Cambremer whom the lift-boy at the hotel mistakenly but amusingly calls Camembert and whose acquaintance provides a springboard for the dinner at the Verdurin estate. Here we experience the personalities of the physician Cottard, whose preoccupation with his Verdurin invitations affects his professional ethics; the shy, socially graceless Saniette, who is continuously bullied by Verdurin; and a pedantic bore named Brichot, who talks almost exclusively about the etymology of place names.
The motifs recurring in this volume include the society-enveloping controversy over the Dreyfus affair, the snobbery involved in invitations to certain salons, and Marcel's association with the aging and ill Swann and his wife Odette, who now have some hard-earned esteem in the Faubourg Saint-Germain. In his deeply contemplative approach to narration, Proust functions as an essayist as much as he does a novelist, but his genius is that he merges both forms seamlessly. His sentences, at least as translated into English by Moncrieff and Kilmartin, are consistently worthy of applause and inspire me to write with more sensitivity to my surroundings.
The truth of love Feb 22, 2004
The fourth volume of "In search of lost time" (Sodom and Gomorrah) begins with the sickness of Marcel's grandmother's sickness, which will lead her to the grave. During the dissease she will be treated by doctor Huxley, whose behavior surrounding the woman's unavoidable death awakens Marcel's digressions. Once she dies, the story resumes his contact with the high spheres of society. Marcel travels once again to Balbec, where he finds Albertine again. Their relationship grows as they assist to Mme. Verdurin's gatherings. Her "wednesdays", as she calls them, now that she attends in Balbec to her group of friends. Marcel's mind games surrounding Albertine are comparable to those utilized by Charlus to manipulate his young lover, the son of an old servant of his (Marcel's) grandfather... who plays the violin. Marcel is involved in this relationship as an comunicating vessel between Charlus and his "Adonis". It is rather curious how telephones, automobiles and trains are more and more involved in the telling of the events. The encounters in the stations, the dangers of traveling in an automobile, the unpersonalized feel to talking to someone through a telephone, etc... All these entail not only technological changes, but social ones as well: how people relate to one another begins to be considered outside the reduced space of fixed spheres... now, they move all over the space, they can even be broken into pieces... their voices, their bodies, the possibility of an effective transport that also allows privacy and secrecy (such as Marcel and Albertine's travels in the car, and all the implied events surrounding this machine -involving Charlus and his young "friend"). Marcel's doubts about Albertine's likes, are more overwhelming everyday... and he finally decides to marry Albertine, to take her to Paris with him. In this volume, Marcel Proust submerges deeper in the waters of human affections and desires. If in the second volume he began to experience love for the first time, in this one, he is experiencing love outside the protection of young idelism and romanticism... instead, he realizes the conection between love, desire, snobism and pain: the truth of love is far from being an eternal, selfless and happy feeling: it is the constant haunting of a question, the everlasting wonder about evil within and without. It is most memorable when Marcel assists to a party and describes the unfixed nature of gender differentiation: how much can a woman look like a man, how much can a woman desire another woman... and how much like a woman can one man desire another man.