Author: Marcel Proust, 1921/22. Translated from the French by Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin; revised by D J Enright, 1992.
Genre: Modern Classic. Literary. Comedy of Manners. GLBT.
Other Details: 2000 Vintage Proust Edition. Paperback. 639 pages.
In 'Sodom and Gomorrah' Proust's narrator not only depicts the class tensions of a changing France at the beginning of the twentieth century but also exposes the decadence of aristocratic Parisian society and muses upon the subjects of homosexuality and sexual jealousy. - synopsis from Vintage Classics.
In this volume Proust explores in his distinctive style attitudes towards homosexuality during Belle Epoque France. He does this initially through observations of the secret society of 'inverts' in a fairly dispassionate manner though later when he comes to suspect that his lover has lesbian tendencies his behaviour becomes increasingly obsessive despite declarations that he is not in love with her. It has been observed that Proust portrays homosexuality in a negative light though to be fair he actually portrays all forms of sexual love in a negative way.
Throughout the novel as the Narrator has come to adulthood I have been somewhat appalled by his attitudes, especially towards women, though I expect they are reflective of the period and his class. Still in some respects they are also amusing in a darkly comedic way. The last line of the novel is a classic example of the particular madness caused by sexual jealousy. There are also, as in the previous two volumes, elegant dinner parties and gatherings in which the complex social interactions of aristocratic society are presented and here too there is subtle comedy and satire.
As with the other volumes this proved a challenging read; yet while difficult it also was rewarding. I am grateful for the Goodreads group as reading this in 70 page chunks each week has proved much easier than the daunting prospect of all 7 volumes. Reading it over the course of a year also allows time for reflection.