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Time Regained In Search of Lost Time 7


Albertine but it seems there must be an involuntary memory of the
limbs, pale and sterile imitation of the other, which lives longer as certain
mindless animals or plants live longer than man. The legs, the arms are
full of blunted memories; a reminiscence germinating in my arm had
made me seek the bell behind my back, as I used to in my room in Paris
and I had called Albertine, imagining my dead friend lying beside me as
she so often did at evening when we fell asleep together, counting the
time it would take Fran�oise to reach us, so that Albertine might without
imprudence pull the bell I could not find.
Robert came to Tansonville several times while I was there. He was
very different from the man I had known before. His life had not
coarsened him as it had M. de Charlus, but, on the contrary, had given
him more than ever the easy carriage of a cavalry officer although at his
marriage he had resigned his commission. As gradually M. de Charlus
had got heavier, Robert (of course he was much younger, yet one felt he
was bound to approximate to that type with age like certain women who
resolutely sacrifice their faces to their figures and never abandon Marien-
bad, believing, as they cannot hope to keep all their youthful charms,
that of the outline to represent best the others) had become slimmer,
swifter, the contrary effect of the same vice. This velocity had other psy-
chological causes; the fear of being seen, the desire not to seem to have
that fear, the feverishness born of dissatisfaction with oneself and of
boredom. He had the habit of going into certain haunts of ill-fame, where
as he did not wish to be seen entering or coming out, he effaced himself
so as to expose the least possible surface to the malevolent gaze of
hypothetical passers-by, and that gust-like motion had remained and
perhaps signified the apparent intrepidity of one who wants to show he
is unafraid and does not take time to think.
To complete the picture one must reckon with the desire, the older he
got, to appear young, and also the impatience of those who are always
bored and blasŽs, yet being too intelligent for a relatively idle life, do not
suffici-. ently use their faculties. Doubtless the very idleness of such
people may display itself by indifference but especially since idleness,
owing to the favour now accorded to physical exercise, has taken the
form of sport, even when the latter cannot be practised, feverish activity
leaves boredom neither time nor space to develop in.
He had become dried up and gave friends like myself no evidence of
sensibility. On the other hand, he affected with Gilberte an unpleasant
sensitiveness which he pushed to the point of comedy. It was not that
Robert was indifferent to Gilberte; no, he loved her. But he always lied to
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