Soon Proust was disenchanted by his goddesses. As Weber notes, his “idealizing vision of his ladies changed over time into something darker.” To the Comtesse de Chevigné [Laure de Sade, great-granddaughter of the Marquis], he wrote, “What one used to love turns out to be very, very stupid.” She, he told a friend, was just “a tough old bird I mistook, long ago, for a bird of paradise.” No longer infatuated, he mocked even the divine Élisabeth [Comtesse Greffulhe] as superficial, pretentious and shallow. And in old age, she proved his point by remembering him as “a displeasing little man who was forever skulking about in doorways.”
(Elaine Showalter, “French High Society During the Belle Époque,” review of “Proust’s Duchess” by Caroline Weber, NYTimes)
(C) 2018 James Mansfield Nichols. All rights reserved.