Scum!


Charlus’ duality manifests itself in his fierce masculinity layered on his femininity.

 Of two or three “gigolos,” relatives or intimate friends of Saint-Loup, who happened to mention their names, M. de Charlus remarked with an almost ferocious expression in sharp contrast to his usual coldness: “Young scum!” I gathered that the particular fault which he found in the young men of the day was their effeminacy. “They’re nothing but women, ” he said with scorn. But what life  would not have appeared effeminate beside that which he expected a man to lead, and never found energetic or virile enough? (II,466)

But listen to his voice.

M. de Charlus not only revealed a refinement of feeling such as men rarely show; his voice itself, like certain contralto voices in which the middle register has not been sufficiently cultivated, so that when they sing it sound like an alternating duet between a young man and a woman, mounted, when he expressed these delicate sentiments, to its higher notes, took an unexpected sweetness and seemed to embody choirs of betrothed maidens, of sisters, pouring out their fond feelings… Often while M. de Charlus was talking one could hear their laughter, the shrill fresh laughter of school-girls or coquettes twitting their companions with all the mischievousness of sharp tongues and quick wits. (II,469)

 And always on a (color) diet.

At that moment, noticing that the embroidered handkerchief which he had in his pocket was exhibiting  its coloured border, he thrust it sharply down out of sight with the scandalised air of a prudish but far from innocent lady concealing attractions which, by an excess of scrupulosity, she regards as indecent. (II,470)

 

 

 

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