Monday, April 12, 2021

“That attention to detail”

The Duc and the Duchesse de Guermantes admire Mademoiselle de Forcheville’s tact and intelligence.

Marcel Proust, The Fugitive, trans. Peter Collier (London: Penguin, 2003).

The Duc and Duchesse’s evaluation of Mademoiselle is (at least thus far) wholly positive. Add to Mademoiselle’s tact and intelligence her wit, and the way she pronounces certain words — just like her father! Oh, and her brio. Yes, her father was witty too, but he did not have such brio. Let the hair-splitting analysis begin.

Related reading
All OCA Proust posts (Pinboard)

Sunday, April 11, 2021

“It’s pathetic”

Here’s an anonymous resident of Villa Grove, Illinois, quoted in the Chicago Sun Times. She’s speaking of life in the town where a bar opening in February 2021 was linked to forty-six cases of COVID-19 and a two-week-long school closing. You can easily figure out why she chose to be anonymous:

“They don’t check to see how many people are in businesses. There are no mask mandates. When restaurants and bars were supposed to be closed except for pickup, there were still several that were open like there was nothing going on,” she said. “There’s hardly anywhere that mandates masks. It’s pathetic.”
That’s the meaning of “freedom” in downstate Illinois.

And that’s my airing of grievances for the day.

A related post
COVID-19 in Douglas County

[Says the bar’s owner, “We don’t want Chicago telling us what to do.” The state capital is Springfield.]

Airing of grievances

For some people, every day is Festivus.

[Worth clicking through if only to see the startling photograph.]

Idiom of the day: soup up

A clue in yesterday’s Newsday crossword — five letters, “Jazzes (up)” — prompted me to (finally) write a post about soup up.

My guess about an origin: perhaps a way to describe the adding of soup to a meal. I imagine a seedy little café, circa 1927, adding a bowl of soup to, say, the beef stew, roll, and coffee it usually serves its patrons: “We souped up the dinner for ya, Bill. Eat hearty.” But it’s tough to guess correctly about these things.

Merriam-Webster gives these definitions for soup up:

to increase the power, efficiency, or performance of

to heighten the impact of : to make more exciting or colorful
It’s the origin of the verb that’s surprising. According to M-W, soup up comes from soup, “drug injected into a racehorse to improve its performance.” M-W dates soup up to 1924. The Oxford English Dictionary dates the verb to 1931. The OED dates soup-as-drug to 1909, citing the 1909 ‌Webster’s New international : “any material injected into a horse with a view to changing its speed or temperament.” The OED suggests the prefix super- as an influence.

And now I recall that in The Asphalt Jungle (dir. John Huston, 1950), “soup” is what the criminal gang calls the nitroglycerine they use to blow up a bank vault. Sure enough, the Oxford English Dictionary has soup as nitroglycerine or gelignite, with a first citation from 1902. I like this 1903 citation, from Isaac Kahn Friedman’s The Autobiography of a Beggar: “Louis learned how ter make de ‘soup’ from a gang of ‘yeagers’ dat used ter blow de doors off country banks.” Yeagers are more commonly known as yeggs: that is, safecrackers.

And crackers remind me of soup, and of the imaginary café. If I keep going on with this post, it’ll soon be time for lunch. There will be soup.

[The Autobiography of a Beggar is not an autobiography. It’s a book of what look like colorful stories by a Chicago journalist.]

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Today’s Newsday Saturday

Today’s Newsday  Saturday crossword, by Anna Stiga (Stan Again, Stan Newman, the puzzle editor), was easy but satisfying, with inventive clues and unusual answers. Some clue-and-answer pairs that I especially liked:

6-A, five letters, “Big name in guitar making.” Surprising to see this answer clued as a name. But it is one, or was.

7-D, six letters, “’13’ preceder.” Seems obvious when you see it, but strange at first.

10-D, eight letters, “Topical application.” Just because the answer is such a squeamish-making word.

16-D, five letters, “Nickname like Rin.” I had no idea that Rin is a nickname. The only Rin I know of barked.

18-A, five letters, “Dark-meat delicacy.” Has anyone ever eaten it? Enjoyed it?

25-A, ten letters, “They’re paid to strike.” MERCENARIE — ? No. The answer makes me think of just one name, from kidhood TV.

30-A, thirteen letters, “Expedient but imperfect.” Not sure if this idiom originates in the world of coding or is just widely used there.

32-A, eight letters, “Box-set pastime.” “Box-set” still makes me think, first, of CDs.

37-D, six letters, “Smears with ink.” Ha.

44-A, three letters, “Needle point.” The clue redeems the answer.

51-D, three letters, “Grammy Album of the Year sharer (1982).” I didn’t see this answer coming, partly because “1982.”

56-A, five letters, “Jazzes (up).” I’ve been meaning to write a post about the answer.

No spoilers; the answers are in the comments.

Katalin Kariko

The New York Times reports on Katalin “Kati” Kariko, whose work with colleagues on messenger RNA became the foundation for the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. I like this paragraph:

By all accounts intense and single-minded, Dr. Kariko lives for “the bench” — the spot in the lab where she works. She cares little for fame. “The bench is there, the science is good,” she shrugged in a recent interview. “Who cares?”
As the Times article makes clear, Dr. Kariko’s position in academia has long been precarious. I’m guessing that might change, and that she’ll soon be sharing a Nobel Prize. Signs point to yes, don’t you think?

Friday, April 9, 2021


As Eric Nelson, Derek Chauvin’s attorney, continues to muddy the waters and drag George Floyd through them, I have to point out Nelson’s annoying habit of ending questions with “right?"

But that’s not an adequate description: what Nelson typically does is make a statement which then takes on the appearance of a question with the addition of “right?” He adds a “right?” even to utterly unexceptionable points about mundane matters of fact. His purpose is to create the illusion that a witness is agreeing with the defense. But it’s a pretty transparent tactic, and the illusion is one an observer can see right through.

Worse: when a witness offers a contrary response, Nelson will again say “right” — no question mark — and move on, as if the witness and the defense are still in agreement.

“Two plus two make five, right?”

“No, four.”


“All the time”

As Elaine was quick to point out, this sentence fits COVID-19 times well:

Marcel Proust, The Fugitive, translated by Peter Collier (London: Penguin, 2003).

Related reading
All OCA Proust posts (Pinboard)

[Translator’s note for the 1870 war: “Franco-Prussian war. Napoleon III surrendered to the Prussians at Sedan in 1870. This was traumatic for civilians because of the resulting uprising of the Paris Commune in 1871.”]

Minutes past and future

I have noticed that my university’s website now posts not the minutes but the "past minutes" of committee meetings. This phrasing can mean but one thing: that the university plans to post “future minutes,” minutes of meetings that have not yet taken place.

Some will say it’s presumptuous to post such minutes. Or some may have already said that, in the past. Or they may be saying it right now. But posting future minutes would increase the service profiles of committee members while freeing up time for teaching and research. Future minutes: presumptuous? Perhaps. Helpful? Certainly.

Zippy thesaurus

In today’s Zippy: Peter Mark Roget.

Related reading
All OCA Zippy posts (Pinboard) : Beware of the saurus : Defending the thesaurus : Rogeting

[Is Zippy the only daily comic strip that titles every installment? Today’s title: “My Synonym Will Call Your Antonym.”]

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Advice from Gabby Giffords

From a PBS NewsHour interview with former Arizona Congresswoman Gaby Giffords, shot in the head in 2011, still continuing her recovery with the help of music:

Jeffrey Brown: “What do you tell yourself when things are difficult?”

Gabby Giffords: “Move ahead.”

Recently updated

Drugs, doing, eating I worked up the patience to do some searches for “I ain’t do no drugs” and “I ate too many drugs.”

Another bedroom

I was in my grandparents’ apartment in Union City. I hadn’t been there in more than forty years. The strange bulge in the kitchen wall, underneath the window — a hinged metal door of some sort, long painted over — was still where it had always been, but the sink was in a different corner. The room layout was the same as always: kitchen, bathroom, “TV room,” living room, bedroom. But now there was another bedroom, dark. I looked in, and there was my grandmother, asleep on a bed. And I realized I had better leave before I woke her up.

So go my dreams in the COVID time, veering from the mundane — see previous dream — to the very strange.

What was that door anyway? A natural refrigerator in cold weather? A milk door? But it was in a fifth-floor apartment. Was there a fire escape outside the kitchen window? I think so. Did milkmen climb fire escapes?

Related reading
All OCA dream posts (Pinboard)

[Thanks to Elaine for the suggestion of a milk door. It looked something like the Majestic door on the milk-door page I’ve linked to.]


I was walking through the vast lobby of a nearby arts center. No one else was there, but tables and chairs had been set up for an event.

Yes, that was in a dream.

Related reading
All OCA dream posts (Pinboard)

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Drugs, doing, eating

Re: the day’s developments in the Derek Chauvin murder trial: “I ain’t do no drugs” is something people say. “I ate too many drugs” is not. See your nearest search engine for confirmation.

“I ain’t do” is a construction in Black Vernacular English. (I’m no linguist, but I know enough about language to say that much.) A Google search for "I ain't do no" -chauvin -floyd -trial returns 197,000 results. A search for "I ain't do" -chauvin -floyd -trial returns 4,290,000 results.

A search for "I ate too many drugs" -chauvin -floyd -trial returns 2,320 results, and they appear to reference the trial. A search for "I ate too many drugs" -chauvin -floyd -trial that ends with April 6 returns just twenty-four results, all false hits or references to the trial.

"I ain't do no drugs" -chauvin -floyd -trial returns relatively few unique results — twenty (down from 2,210 with many repeats). But many of those twenty results are transcriptions of hip-hop lyrics. So again: “I ain't do no drugs” is something people say. “I ate too many drugs” is not.

But whatever George Floyd said, it doesn’t change what was done to him.

[I used Google and not DuckDuckGo for these searches because Google searches more of the Internet.]

“Individual meat loaves”

It’s time for more Prem.

[Life, June 23, 1947. Click for a larger view.]

I think the meal follows this logic: The marmalade cuts the taste of the Prem. The cauliflower and buttered almonds cut the taste of the Prem and marmalade. The french fried onion rings cut the taste of the cauliflower and buttered almonds.

All done. Where’s my Jell-O?

Related posts
Name that (Prem) sandwich : What is the plural of meat loaf ?

Recently updated

Name that sandwich Now with the winning name from 1941.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

American Edge (ugh)

Have you begun to notice vaguely identified television commercials celebrating American “innovation”? They’re the work of the American Edge Project, which, as The Washington Post explained last year, is a Facebook initiative:

Facebook is working behind the scenes to help launch a new political advocacy group that would combat U.S. lawmakers and regulators trying to rein in the tech industry, escalating Silicon Valley’s war with Washington at a moment when government officials are threatening to break up large companies.

The organization is called American Edge, and it aims through a barrage of advertising and other political spending to convince policymakers that Silicon Valley is essential to the U.S. economy and the future of free speech, according to three people familiar with the matter as well as documents reviewed by The Washington Post. The people spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the group because it hasn’t officially been announced.

In December [2019], American Edge formed as a nonprofit organization, and last month, it registered an accompanying foundation, according to incorporation documents filed in Virginia. The setup essentially allows it to navigate a thicket of tax laws in such a way that it can raise money, and blitz the airwaves with ads, without the obligation of disclosing all of its donors. Many powerful political actors — including the National Rifle Association — similarly operate with the aid of “social welfare” groups.
Yes, dark money.

Safari vs. Chrome

From MacSparky, a comparison of Mac RAM usage in Safari and Chrome. And an anecdote about matching MacBook Airs, one of which ran with the fans always on:

They couldn’t figure it out. They thought her machine was a lemon, but it passed every Apple hardware test. Then she switched browsers from Chrome to Safari. Problem solved.
There are good reasons why someone might need to run Chrome. But between the RAM and the fans — phew.

Name that sandwich

[Life, February 7, 1941. Found while looking for something else. Click for a larger view.]

“When you’ve tasted it, names will come easily.” I bet. But I’m not sure this sandwich ever received a satisfactory (printable?) name. There’s no follow-up advertisement.

Here’s a more difficult challenge: devise an appropriate name for this sandwich seventy years after the fact, without tasting. The ingredients: French toast, currant jelly, chopped nuts, and PREM, pan-fried or broiled. The garnishes appear to be black olives and little bits of shag carpet. Okay, it’s parsley.

When it look at old advertisements, I sometimes wonder how the ancestors manage to make it through meals. PREM, to my surprise, is still a foodstuff.

As the ad says, “Rules and entry blanks at your dealer’s.” (Your dealer’s what?) It’d be simpler to leave your suggested name(s) in the comments here.

Enter today!


April 6: A reader in New Jersey shared the winning name from 1941: Major Premway, as found in Google Books:

[From Fell’s Official Guide to Prize Contests and How to Win Them (1975). Snippet view only.]

Thank you, reader!

It’s curious that the names suggested by readers in 2021 — Croak Madame, the General Eisenhower (or the Ike), and prem-oh-nosh-in — are, like the 1941 winner, about personal names and puns.

Monday, April 5, 2021

COVID-19 in Douglas County

From a CDC report:

Forty-six cases of COVID-19 were linked to an indoor bar opening event that occurred during February 2021 in a rural Illinois county. Event patrons were linked to secondary cases among household, long-term care facility, and school contacts, resulting in one hospitalization and one school closure affecting 650 students.

This story is now everywhere, with “rural Illinois” or, at best, Douglas County given as the location. A local news source has identified the bar in question. The owner denies responsibility for the outbreak: “No one that owns or works at this bar transmitted Covid to anyone.”

Perhaps not. But as the CDC reports, one patron in attendance had tested positive for COVID-19 the day before the event, and four more patrons had symptoms on the day they went to the bar. And there’s the usual masks-were-available disclaimer, which doesn’t mean that people were using them.

Douglas County is one county over from me.

Twelve movies

[One to four stars. Four sentences each. No spoilers.]

The Glass Wall (dir. Maxwell Shane, 1953). A Hungarian survivor of Nazi camps, Peter Kaban (Vittorio Gassman) arrives in New York as a stowaway, where his sole hope of not being deported is to jump ship and find the American serviceman whose life he saved and can vouch for him, a guy who said he played clarinet in Times Square. A gripping story of life on the run, with Kaban as both the hunter and the hunted. There’s a touching moment with a Hungarian burlesque dancer (Robin Raymond), and Gloria Grahame gives a great performance as a coat-thief and unexpected love interest: dig her monologue about working in a shoelace factory. You’ll have to watch to the end to understand the title. ★★★★


99 River Street (dir. Phil Karlson, 1953). A superior noir, whose events play out in a single night. John Payne plays an ex-fighter who drives a cab and hopes to own a gas station someday. When his life spins out of control, a dispatcher pal (Frank Faylen) and an aspiring actress (Evelyn Keyes) help him put things together. Brutal fight scenes, in and out of the ring, and a host of shady characters: Jay Adler, Peggie Castle, Brad Dexter, and the feral Jack Lambert. ★★★★


The Scarf (dir. E.A. Dupont, 1951). An escapee from an asylum for the criminally insane (John Ireland) seeks to figure out if he committed the crime for which he was convicted. This ambitious effort scatters in several directions, from a philosophical dialogue between the escapee and a learned desert recluse (James Barton, in a great role) to a sojourn in the desert with a singing waitress (Mercedes McCambridge) to a slapstick fight in a bar. The story becomes, finally, about choosing between heteronormative desire and intergenerational desert bromance (yes, really). Best scene: the ultra-creepy psychiatrist (Emlyn Williams) meets the waitress. ★★★


Sudden Fear (dir. David Miller, 1952). A famous playwright (Joan Crawford) and an aspiring actor (Jack Palance) marry, and already I’m afraid. The couple’s happy life in San Francisco is complicated by the unexpected arrival of the past, in the form of Gloria Grahame. Great suspense, with steep staircases, a little mechanical dog, and lots to think about regarding plots and scripts and performances (great ones). Would pair well with Cast a Dark Shadow (dir. Lewis Gilbert, 1955). ★★★★


Midnight Lace (dir. David Miller, 1960). Dumb luck: we didn’t know we were about to watch another movie from the director of Sudden Fear, with strong overtones of that movie and Hitchcock’s Dial M for Murder. Doris Day and Rex Harrison are Kit and Anthony Preston, a power couple in London, she an heiress, he a corporate executive. Someone is telephoning and threatening to kill Kit, but who, and why? A great performance from Day as an increasingly desperate but resourceful victim-to-be, and fine supporting performances from Myrna Loy as Kit’s feisty Aunt Bea, and John Williams (from Dial M) representing Scotland Yard. ★★★★


Julie (dir. Andrew L. Stone, 1956). More dumb luck: we didn’t know that we were going to be watching another movie with Doris Day as a woman in danger. No mystery here: the danger to Julie Benton comes from her obsessively jealous, violent husband (Louis Jourdan). At times the movie feels like a prescient PSA in its explication of the realities of domestic violence: the law, as a police detective says, can do little in the absence of evidence. The ending has become the stuff of spoof, but considered on its own terms, it’s wildly suspenseful and ahead of its time. ★★★★


The Verdict (dir. Don Siegel, 1946). After sending an innocent man to his execution, a police inspector (Sydney Greenstreet) is determined to show up the colleague who has taken his place in Scotland Yard (George Coulouris, with an improbable mustache). Set in 1890s London, the story is ostensibly a vehicle for Greenstreet and Peter Lorre, but there’s little chemistry between them in this locked-room murder mystery. Greenstreet looks tired, and Lorre skirts around the edges of the story, out late, drunk. The solution to the mystery requires that disbelief be hung by its thumbs. ★★


Don’t Blink – Robert Frank (dir. Laura Israel, 2015). I greatly admire Robert Frank’s photography — my copy of The Americans is many years old. But I found this documentary exhausting and unsatisfying, with fleeting image after fleeting image, all to the accompaniment of a largely irrelevant musical soundtrack. Frank is a benign but curmudgeonly presence, living with enormous personal loss, giving up little to the filmmaker’s camera. This documentary made me miss the patient close-reading of photographs typical of a Ken Burns project, and that’s saying something. ★★


My Favorite Year (dir. Richard Benjamin, 1982). “I’m not an actor; I’m a movie star!” It’s 1954, and a hard-drinking, swashbuckling Errol Flynn type, Alan Swann (Peter O’Toole), is to appear on King Kaiser’s Comedy Cavalcade (i.e., Sid Caesar’s Your Show of Shows). Young Benjy Stone (Mark Linn-Baker), who idolizes Swann, vows to keep the errant star on the straight and narrow. The bromance and feel-goodism that take over the movie leave me cold, but the scenes of writers and actors at work are a delight. Watch that cable. ★★★


Dangerous Crossing (dir. Joseph M. Newman, 1953). Meet the Bowmans, Ruth and John (Jeanne Crain and Carl Betz), newlyweds on an ocean liner. Mr. B. disappears, and no one can attest that he was ever on board. So think of this movie as as variation on The Lady Vanishes. Its strong point: the way it plausibly places everyone, from a fellow passenger to the ship’s doctor, under suspicion. ★★★★


The Whistler (dir. William Castle, 1944). A wealthy executive pays for a hit man to “remove” someone but soon has to reconsider the deal. This low-budget movie (based on a radio show) has vaguely acceptable acting, bare-bones sets, and a clever but ridiculous plot whose twists come via telegrams. One surprising moment: when the camera pulls back, a little corner that looks like a cheap stand-in for a restaurant turns out to be a little corner in a larger set. Watch for Gloria Stuart, Old Rose in Titanic. ★★


Road House (dir. Jean Negulesco, 1948). What a road house: it has living quarters for its manager, a bowling alley, and a bar and grille (sic) named Spare Room. The owner, Jefty Robbins (Richard Widmark), has hired Lily Stevens (Ida Lupino) as a singer-pianist, but she has eyes for Jefty’s pal, road house manager Pete Morgan (Cornel Wilde), who’s had eyes for Susie the cashier (Celeste Holm). The movie looks at first like a conventional love triangle (or rectangle) — but don’t forget, it has Richard Widmark. My favorite moment: Ida Lupino sing-speaks “One for My Baby (And One More for the Road”). ★★★★

[Sources: the Criterion Channel, TCM, and YouTube.]

Related reading
All OCA film posts (Pinboard)

Small pleasures

We were texting about Boston’s Kenmore Square, the Hoodoo Barbecue, and the Rathskeller, aka “the Rat.” And the iOS dictation service turned Rathskeller into wrath scholar.

Oh well. If dictation is to mess things up, at least it can do so in an amusing way. That’s a small pleasure.

Wrath scholars though are no pleasure, and they are amusing only at a safe distance, if at all. I have known but one — an alpha for sure. Beware of Prof!

More dictation mishaps
Boogie-woogie : Derrida : Edifice and Courson Blatz : Folk music

[No. 7 in a series of small pleasures. Rathskeller is an interesting word to look up.]

Sunday, April 4, 2021

A painting rediscovered

“Alice Neel painted two neighborhood boys in her studio in the 1960s. Fifty years later, the mystery of what happened to the picture has been solved”: a bittersweet story from The New York Times.

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Grifters gonna grift

A story with pre-checked boxes and a “money bomb”: “How Trump Steered Supporters into Unwitting Donations” (The New York Times). Unfreakingconscionable.

Today’s Newsday Saturday

Today’s Newsday  Saturday crossword, by S.N., Stan Newman, feels a lot like a Saturday Stumper. The puzzle took me twenty-two minutes. As Zippy would say, Yow!

Some clue-and-answer pairs I especially liked:

3-D, ten letters, “Stand-up comic’s bane.” I like the colloquial answer. I sometimes thought of it when teaching.

4-D, three letters, “Garden party.” The clue improves the answer.

18-A, six letters, “Commercial preparation.” ELIXIR? PATENT? I could see this answer only from crosses.

24-D, three letters, “Short alternative to 8.” The answer looks obvious now, but didn’t when I was solving.

29-A, six letters, “Nightmarish visions.” Grateful not to have them, but after reading a bit, I see they’d have no interest in me.

31-A, eight letters, “Undemanding listening.” Another colloquial answer. I remember in my twenties being startled by someone of my age saying that she liked “easy listening” music. She was not being ironic.

33-D, five letters, “Betray overeagerness.” I usually prefer to champ at the bit.

36-A, eight letters, “When ‘I Will Survive’ got a Grammy.” Funny to see this answer under 31-A.

41-D, three letters, “Base’s not-very-high figure.” Another clue that improves an answer. I thought at first that the context was chemistry or paychecks.

45-A, six letters, “Stick-y snack.” I was thinking JERKY. It often helps to reread a clue.

69-A, eight letters, “About 75 ml of a cup’s hot stuff.” I like the defamiliarization here.

One clue that didn’t convince me: 21-D, four letters, “Tangy takeout.” The word tang can be applied to many kinds of food, including this kind. I’ve just never thought of this kind in relation to the word tangy, which for me evokes barbecue sauce, or Kraft French dressing, “glowing weirdly orange”. Elaine, thinking dynastically, suggests the answer CHINESE.

No spoilers; the answers are in the comments.

Friday, April 2, 2021

Simone Weil on force

I started thinking about these sentences this afternoon:

To define force — it is that x that turns anybody who is subjected to it into a thing. Exercised to the limit, it turns man into a thing in the most literal sense: it makes a corpse out of him. Somebody was here, and the next minute there is nobody here at all.

Simone Weil, The “Iliad,” or the Poem of Force, trans. Mary McCarthy (Wallingford, PA: Pendle Hill, 1956).
Force can take the form of a knee on a neck or a vehicle aimed at human beings in uniform. It can be directed against a person or a community. It can be the work of a lone wolf, as we now say, or a larger group, or the state.

One need not be a believer to be thinking these thoughts on Good Friday.

Imaginary word of the day

It came to me in a dream, in the form of an illustration of usage. I wrote the entry this morning:

winch∙ing \ˈwinch-iŋ\ n [prob. fr. Walter Winchell †1972 Am. newspaper columnist] (2021) : the public disclosure, as by a gossip columnist or other media personality, of an unfounded accusation, typically salacious or otherwise damaging, against a public figure <The jazz musician’s prospects were damaged by the ⁓ he received in the newspapers>
The arrival of this dream word is no doubt influenced by my watching the 1957 film Sweet Smell of Success, whose gossip columnist and destroyer of lives, J. J. Hunsecker, is modeled on Walter Winchell. The word lynching probably plays a part too. The murder of George Floyd: that was a lynching.

Other dream words
Alecry : Fequid : Misinflame : Skeptiphobia

Thursday, April 1, 2021

“A dream sofa”

The narrator recognizes pieces of furniture from La Raspelière, the Verdurins’ summer rental in Douville. (Before that the furniture was with the Verdurins in rue Montalivet). He sees these pieces as “almost unreal,” bringing parts of the old salon into the present one, evoking “fragments of a destroyed world which seemed to be existing elsewhere.”

Marcel Proust, The Prisoner, trans. Carol Clark (London: Penguin, 2003).

If this were an episode of Perry Mason, I’d now stand up in the visitors’ gallery and confess, “Yes, I posted those sentences. Yes, two long sentences, in a single day. I tried to stop myself. But don’t you see? I love that passage” — and then we’d break for a commercial. After which, I’d go back to reading Proust.

Related reading
All OCA Proust posts (Pinboard)

“That unreal part”

M. Brichot is a member of the Verdurins’ little clan of salonistes. The Verdurins, “the Patrons,” lived in the rue Montalivet until an accident (fire?) destroyed their house. They later rented a summer place, La Raspelière, in Balbec. Now back in Paris, they live in a townhouse on the Quai Conti. Brichot points the narrator to the far end of a room in the townhouse: “That might just give you an idea of what the rue Montalivet house was like twenty-five years ago.”

Marcel Proust, The Prisoner, trans. Carol Clark (London: Penguin, 2003).

And now I’m thinking of places I can see again only in memory.

Related reading
All OCA Proust posts (Pinboard)

[Fire is my informed guess. Mme Verdurin to a guest: “I don’t mind your smoking, of course, if it weren’t for the carpet, which is a very fine one. Not that that matters either, but it would catch fire very easily, I’m terribly afraid of fire and I wouldn’t want you all to be roasted alive just because somebody dropped a cigarette end.”]