Lawful Behavior

Proust rarely judges his characters, despite their flaws. They are, after all, simply behaving according to psychological laws.

Thus it is superfluous to make a study of social mores, since we can deduce them from psychological laws. (II,117)

Here is an example of one, this describing Mme de Villeparisis.

And her one and only failure in true politeness lay in this excess of politeness–which it was easy to identify as the professional bent of a lady of the Faubourg Saint-Germain, who, always seeing in her humbler friends the latent discontent that she must one day arouse in their bosoms, greedily seizes every possible opportunity to establish in advance, in the ledger in which she keeps her social account with them, a credit balance which will enable her presently to enter on the debit side the dinner or reception to which she will not invite them. (II,414)

Does the narrator find this class behaviour distasteful? No.

And for  that reason, quite as much as the dazzling splendour of the beach, the many-coloured flamboyance and subaqueous light of the rooms…the daily kindnesses shown us by Mme de Villeparisis, and also the unaccustomed, momentary, holiday ease with which my grandmother accepted them, have remained in my memory as typical of life at the seaside. (II,414)






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