Madness


Albertine is at once a creation of Marcel’s jealous obsession, rooted in childhood trauma, and a person that he has chosen to live with. Morel enjoys a similar dual existence for Charlus. This unstable duality carries the risk of resolution by madness and even death, a conclusion Marcel both acknowledges and is reluctant to accept.

Jealousy is thus endless, for even if the beloved, by dying for instance, can no longer provoke it by her actions….There is no need for there to be two of you, it is enough to alone in your room, thinking, for fresh betrayals by your mistress to come to light, even though she is dead. (V,107)

“I beg of you, my darling girl, no more of that trick riding you were practising the other day. Just think, Albertine, if you were to have an accident!”  Of course I did not wish her any harm. But how delighted I should have been if, with her horse, she had taken it into her head to ride off somewhere, wherever she chose, and never come back to my house again! (V,153)

 It is terrible to have the life of another person attached to one’s own like a bomb which one holds in one’s hands, unable to get rid of it without committing  a crime. But one has only to  compare this with the ups and downs, the dangers, the anxieties, the fear that false but probable thing will come to be believed when we will no longer be able to explain them–feelings that one experiences if one lives on intimate terms with a madman. For instance, I pitied M. de Charlus for living with Morel (immediately the memory of the scene that afternoon made me feel that the left side of my chest was heavier than the other); leaving aside the relations that may or may not have existed between them, M. de Charlus must have been unaware at the outset that Morel was mad….But all this  is only a comparison. Albertine was not mad. (V,236)

Many years later Marcel was to learn just how close to madness Morel had driven Charlus. This is from a letter meant to be read after his death.

This divine prudence it was that made him resist the appeals to come back and see me which I conveyed to him, and I shall have no peace in this world or hope of forgiveness in the next if I do not confess the truth to you. He was, in resisting my appeals, the instrument of divine wisdom, for I was resolved, had he come, that he should not leave my house alive. One of us two had to disappear. I had decided to kill him. (VI,168)

 

 

 

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