Thursday, August 4, 2011

Three Orianes

James Everett of Proust Reader wrote in an email conversation that time creates new versions of the characters of In Search for Lost Time and led me to this question:

Supposing the duchess of Guermantes could be reduced in the manner of classical painting to The Three Ages of Man, might the first age be she at the wedding of Dr. Percepied's daughter where young Marcel spies her with a pimple on her nose in Gilbert the Bad's Chapel and a wash of red light from the window depicting her ancestor Geneviève de Brabant fills the church, might the second age show her later, flashing her dazzling smile to Marcel at the opera at the height of her power, and might the third show her near the end of the trail at the matinée Guermantes where she surprises Marcel by exclaiming it wonderful to see "her oldest friend"?

A similar format could be given to all the major characters of course, most of the minor as well. Where and how does Proust show us changes in character, how does he lead the us through lives that are physically and emotionally redefined by incident, experience and time? At what point for instance does Charles Morel change his evil way to those of a family man, when does Miss Sacripant become Mme Swann and Mme Swann Mme de Forcheville, what changes come over Saint-Loup's face between his table jumping at Doncieres, his coming out at the brothels and his hero's death in the trenches? And could we look each in the face and tell them, "Oh, I know who you are" at each point along the path?

Here is Oriane at the wedding...
At the Opera...
At the matinée...

Each panel is acrylic on masonite, 5x7 inches.
Each image expands when clicked.
Here they are as a tryptych...

As well as James Everett I'm grateful to Patrick Alexander and Dr. William C. Carter for their contributions to my attempt with the subject.

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