Baron of Bums


Legrandin is rather clumsy in his desire to be a good neighbor to Marcel and his family and at the same time to appear rather more important than he is to the local landed gentry. He is at the early stage of being a snob, a character trait that he will continue to develop. Here he is with prominent landowners of Combray.

Legrandin’s face wore an expression of extraordinary zeal and animation; he made a deep bow, with a subsidiary backward movement which brought his shoulders sharply up into a position behind their starting point, a gesture in which he must have been trained by the husband of his sister, Mme de Cambremer. This rapid  straightening-up caused a sort of tense muscular wave to ripple over Legrandin’s rump, which I had not supposed to be so fleshy; I cannot say why, but this undulation of pure matter, this wholly carnal fluency devoid of spiritual significance, this wave lashed into a tempest by an obsequious alacrity of the basest sort, awoke my mind suddenly to the possibility of a Legrandin altogether different from the one we knew. (I,174)

One is prompted by this physical description of Legrandin’s derrière to ask if his name is a Dickensian joke. And one is also curious of the opinion of the Baron of Bums, Charlus.

When the Princess, who had undertaken to find a husband for Mlle d’Oloron, asked M. de Charlus whether he knew anything about an amiable and cultivated man called Legrandin de Méséglise (it was thus that M. Legrandin now styled himself), the Baron first of all replied in the negative, then suddenly the memory recurred to him of a man whose acquaintance he had made in the train one night and who had given him his card. He smiled a vague smile. “It’s perhaps the same man,” he said to himself. (V,903)

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