Besides jealousy, what’s at the center of The Captive is immobility—perhaps not surprisingly, given the volume’s title. At the very start of the book we learn that the narrator spends most of his time in his bedroom, so that’s where we mostly are, too. Sometimes it’s claustrophobic (as is that squirm-inducing jealousy I wrote about before), but sometimes it’s lovely, like here: “Sometimes, on days when the weather was beyond redemption, mere residence in the house, situated in the midst of a steady and continuous rain, had all the gliding ease, the soothing silence, the interest of a sea voyage; another time, on a bright day, to lie still in bed was to let the lights and shadows play around me as round a tree trunk” (100). Later on in this same passage, Proust writes about days of changeable weather: this makes me grin because I relate to the joy of watching sun then scudding clouds then sun and also because I love it when people prove one can think about/write about/talk about the weather in a way that isn’t banal. He writes of “tempestuous, disordered, delightful days, when the roofs, soaked by an intermittent downpour and dried by a gust of wind or a ray of sunshine, let fall a gurgling raindrop and, as they wait for the wind to turn again, preen their iridescent pigeon’s-breast slates in the momentary sunshine; one of those days filled with so many changes of weather, atmospheric incidents, storms, that the idle man does not feel that he has wasted them because he has been taking an interest in the activity which, in default of himself, the atmosphere, acting as it were in his stead, has displayed” (100-101).

(All page numbers are from the Modern Library paperback edition of The Captive & The Fugitive by Marcel Proust, translated by C.K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin, revised by D.J. Enright)

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