Marcel’s Ode to Mlle Vinteuil’s Friend

Marcel realizes that he shares something with Vinteuil: Mlle Vinteuil’s friend has made them both miserable. And perhaps she is also the key to creativity in each of them. Marcel has just heard Vinteuil’s septet, a posthumous work completed by this same woman.

And I for whom, albeit not so much, perhaps, as for Vinteuil, she had also been, had just been once more this very evening by reawakening my jealousy of Albertine, was to be above all in the future, the cause of so many sufferings, it was thanks to her, in compensation, that I had been able to apprehend the strange summons which I should henceforth never cease to hear, as the promise and proof that there existed something other, realisable no doubt through art, than the nullity that I had found in all my pleasures and in love itself, and that if my life seemed to me so futile, at least it had not yet accomplished everything. (V,350)

And the promise that opens to him may be a new mode of communication, one based on the “unanalysed.”

And, just as certain creatures are the last surviving testimony to a form of life which nature has discarded, I wondered whether music might not be the unique example of what might have been–if the invention of language, the formation of words, the analysis of ideas had not intervened–the means of communication between souls. It is like a possibility that has come to nothing; humanity has developed along other lines, those of spoken and written language. But this return to the unanalysed was so intoxicating that, on emerging from that paradise, contact with more or less intelligent people seemed to me of an extraordinary insignificance. (V,344)




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