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Swann's Way: Place-Names: Thomas O'Malley: 11/06/09

Thomas O'Malley

I know I said I'd take two more weeks to read Swann's Way (Du côté de chez Swann) but the last section was only sixty pages and I just couldn't wait to finish. Next week's post will start in with volume two, In a Budding Grove.

In "Place-Names" the novel switches gears, moving away from a third person narrative about the courtship of Swann and Odette and returns to the first person narrative of "Combray." We see the world now through older and less sentimental eyes from the beginning of the book and get a sense of how the child narrator has grown into a young adult.

What harkens the change in point of view is Swann's decision to return to Combray. He brings with himself his new bride, Odette, now to the dismay of the narrator, Madame Swann. The changes he sees in Charles Swann helps him see through the performance Odette is putting on. She is taking too much pride in being Mme Swann. The narrator also sees chinks in the armor of his other childhood heroes and the realization that they are perhaps no different in their insecurities and weaknesses than he is leaves him a little jaded.

So for the close of Swann's Way I've picked Thomas O'Malley as my stand-in for Charles Swann. He is the alley cat about town from The Aristocats who helps Duchess and her kittens return to Paris after the butler tries and fails to drown them out in the countryside. He goes from being a complete flirt and carefree creature to wearing a starch collar and bow tie as part of his "marriage" at the end of the film. His domestication through marriage and through becoming a house cat mirrors beautifully the way in which Charles Swann has given his life completely (for better and most likely worse) to Odette.

In the near future I will post a proper review of Swann's Way. In the meantime, stay tuned for next Friday's post from In a Budding Grove.

Swann's Way posts:

Lisa's First Word, Baby Mine, I Sing the Body Electric, The Lady in Pink, Bleeding Gums Murphy, Caturday, Cherry Blossoms, Marge Simpson, Liana Telfer, Bender in Love, Margaret Dumont, Hyacinth Bucket, Rose, Mildred Krebs, Pepé Le Pew, Jack Harness, Cordelia Chase, Saffron, Thomas O'Malley.

Within a Budding Grove posts:

Nanowrimo, Cheers, Robert Langdon, Kif and Amy, Dead Weight, Clark Kent, Lex Luthor, Paris is a Lonely Town, And Then There's Maude, A Cafe Terrace at Night, North by Northwest, Top Hat, Chez Deetz, Ah, My Goddess!, David, Auntie Mame, Brunhilde Esterhazy, Gusteau's, Shell Beach.

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