Wittier than Babal

Had planned to post an excerpt from the new Woody Guthrie novel(!) House of Earth, published by Johnny Depp, no less. But then I figured out that it’s actually a JD imprint of Harper Collins so… you can find that and pay H/C yourself.

Instead you get Proust, from part one of Volume III The Guermantes Way in the new(er) translation that at least got the title right and so gives me more faith in the translation itself:

Mme de Villeparisis gave vent to an indistinct growl, from which emerged: “I know she was dining with the Mecklenburgs the night before last. Hannibal de Breaute was there. he came and told me about it, quite amusingly, I must say.”

“There was a man there who’s a great deal wittier than Babal,” said Mme de Guermantes who, intimate though she was with M. de Bréauté-Consalvi, felt the need to advertise the fact by the use of this diminutive. “I mean M. Bergotte.”

I had never imagined that Bergotte could be regarded as witty; moreover, I thought of him as always as part of the intellectual section of humanity, that is to say infinitely remote from the mysterious realm of which I had caught a glimpse through the purple hangings of a theatre box behind which, making the Duchess laugh, M. de Bréauté had been holding her, in the language of the gods, that unimaginable thing, a conversation between people of the Faubourg Saint-Germain. I was distressed to see the balance upset and Bergotte rise above M. de Bréauté. But above all I was dismayed to think that I had avoided Bergotte on the evening of Phèdre, that I had not gone up and spoken to him, when I heard Mme de Guermantes, in who one could always, as at the turn of a mental tide, see the flow of curiosity with regard to well-known intellectuals sweep over the ebb of her aristocratic snobbishness, say to Mme de Villeparisis: He’s the only person I have any wish to know. It would be such a pleasure.”