Proust's The Prisoner

ALBERTINE: haha morning!! apropos of nothing in particular, I love food

matter of fact I was thinking of ordering food for dinner?

it’s not impossible that I’ll order some food to be delivered for our dinner sometime today

NARRATOR: oh I have absolutely no problem with that

if I could just offer some quick notes?

ALBERTINE: oh my god, please

NARRATOR: yes for sure on food for dinner, but instead of Albertine ordering the food, let’s recast for me

no need to finalize the cast re food just yet, either Poiré-Blanche’s or Rebattet’s will do fine

ditto Ritz, very open on availability

ALBERTINE: ohh so you’re planning on going outside today?

NARRATOR: oh why do you ask, were you planning on going outside today?

ALBERTINE: I think it’s fantastic that you’re thinking about going outside today!!!

NARRATOR: oh what makes you say that?

were you thinking of going outside just now?

ALBERTINE: hm? sorry? what was that?

NARRATOR: I’m not sure!

what do you think that was?

ALBERTINE: you know I think it’s so great whenever you go outside!

NARRATOR: I know you always say you think it’s so great whenever I go outside!

ALBERTINE: so you agree? you are thinking of going outside?

NARRATOR: I’m thinking about easily ten million things right now, all at the same time

If the narrator of this book had the same name as its author — and I’m not saying that he does, mind — then the name of the narrator of this book, who’s narrating now, that name would be M. If he had the same name, which he may very well not.

ALBERTINE: well if you do end up ordering from the Ritz, if that order happens to include lemon ice, I don’t care what shape it is, as long as it brings to mind those advertisements for thermal springs which remind one of nothing so much as Mlle Vinteuil’s establishment in Montjouvin

NARRATOR: I’m finding this information incredibly painful

ALBERTINE: Oh, sorry, am I boring you??

NARRATOR: you know how I feel about being reminded of the mineral waters at Montjouvain, where you were an entirely different person

ALBERTINE: Sorry sorry! Okay I’ll just go out then, sorry to bother you

NARRATOR: Oh, so you did want to go out after all?

ALBERTINE: Hm? Sorry? You’ll have to speak up, I already have my gloves on

NARRATOR: So you were planning on going outside this whole time, likely to the Verdurins, even though I expressly told you I didn’t think they’d be very diverting, merely vulgar, and you’d be better off going to a matinee instead, but do as you please, of course, I don’t care, as long as you’re back by four and don’t speak to anyone unless they work for me?

ALBERTINE, already outside and covered in ice cream: Sorry, can’t hear you, gloves!!


— plus tard —

CHAUFFEUR: …and then lunch at Vatel’s, and then drove back home. Wow! Sorry for going on and on about my day, it’s just that normally no one asks.

NARRATOR: Interesting. I find that really interesting, because Albertine said she had lunch at the Réservoirs, so I’m curious what kind of explanation is going to resolve this fascinating contradiction—

CHAUFFEUR: No, sorry, I had lunch at Vatel’s.


CHAUFFEUR: I had my lunch at Vatel’s. I have no idea where Mlle Albertine had hers.

NARRATOR, hyperventilating: Oh! So you’re telling me she ate her lunch alone?? She had an alone lunch?? All by herself, she just had some solo lunch, without supervision, in Paris? Paris, France? French alone lunch Paris solitude lesbian woman?

CHAUFFEUR: I’m sorry — I really couldn’t say — she doesn’t normally tell me where she has lunch or anything, just where to pick her up afterwards

NARRATOR: So she asked you to ‘pick her up,’ eh?? Well, this only confirms my suspicions about how comfortable Albertine is about asking people to ‘pick her up’!

CHAUFFEUR: I have no intention of offending you, M’sieur, but in truth I didn’t pick her up at all — she preferred to take a horse cab from Versailles, as the drive was not long, and sent me to pick up the food you had ordered from the Ritz —

NARRATOR, sotto voce: So she did want dinner after all! it’s a good thing I’m doing such a wonderful job concealing my dismay!

NARRATOR, forte: Would it have been so difficult for you to have had your lunch in the same restaurant as Albertine — I don’t say at her table, of course, which would have been ludicrous, but would it have been so difficult for you to slip out the back door of Vatel’s, dashed over to the Réservoirs, asked to be seated just out of Mlle Albertine’s eyesight, scanned the clientele for any indication that someone had arranged to meet her there clandestinely, and then followed her home in disguise?

CHAUFFEUR: M’sieur —

NARRATOR: So! Your game is blackmail, is it? I see it all now — just wait until Albertine gets home and I pretend to be asleep! Won’t that spoil this little game of yours!

[Image via The Prisoner]