Marcel begins with what will become a lifelong obsession: girls in that special period when time has not yet drawn them into that lesser state dictated by their genes and family. While the relations are chaste, all his senses are involved observing them.
…whereas it is as delegates from our other senses that our eyes direct themselves towards young girls; the sense follow, one after another, in search of the various charms, fragrant, tactile, savorous, which they thus enjoy even without the aid of hands and lips; and able, thanks to the arts of transposition, the genius for synthesis in which desire excels, to reconstruct beneath the hue of cheeks or bosom the feel, the taste, the contact that is forbidden them, they give to these girls the same honeyed consistency as they create when they go foraging in a rose-garden, or in a vine whose cluster their eyes devour. (II,645)
…the aurora of adolescence with which the faces of these girls still glowed, and from which I, young as I was, had already emerged, shed its light on everything around them and, like the fluid painting of certain Primitives, brought out in relief the most insignificant details of their daily lives against a golden background. Their faces were for the most part blurred with this misty effulgence of a dawn from which their actual features had not yet emerged. One saw only a charming glow of colour beneath which what in a few years’ time would be a profile was not discernible….They are no more than a stream of ductile matter, continuously moulded by the fleeting impression of the moment.(II,662)
And on these more varied instruments they played with their lips, with all the application and ardour of Bellini’s little angel musicians, qualities which also are an exclusive appange of youth. Later on these girls would lose that note of enthusiastic conviction which gave a charm to their simplest utterances…(II,666)