Marcel Adopts a Cat


Now that Albertine is under direct supervision by Marcel, his jealousy subsides and with it his passion for Albertine.

But this calm which my mistress procured for me was an assuagement of suffering rather than a joy. Not that it did not enable me to taste many joys from which the intensity of my anguish had debarred me, but, far from my owing  them to Albertine, who in any case I no longer found very pretty and with whom I was bored, with whom I was indeed clearly conscious that I was not in love, I tasted these joys on the contrary when Albertine was not with me. (V,4-5)

Why is he bored with her?

We shall see in due course that, in spite of stupid habits of speech which she had not outgrown, Albertine had developed to an astonishing degree. This was a matter of complete indifference to me, a woman’s intellectual qualities having always interested me so little that if I pointed them out to some woman or other it was solely out of politeness. (V,12)

But Marcel does find an unexpected comfort in Albertine, that of an affectionate and calming pet (like a cat; I cannot imagine he was a dog person).

She would never think of shutting a door and, by the same token, would no more hesitate to enter a room if the door stood open than would a dog or a cat. Her somewhat inconvenient charm was, in fact, that of behaving in the household not so much like a girl as like a domestic animal which comes into a room and goes out again and is to found wherever one least expects to find it, and she would often–something that I found profoundly restful–come and lie down beside me on my bed, making a place for herself from which she never stirred, without disturbing me as a person would have done. (V,9)

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