My august toes


Do you think that the venomous spittle of five hundred of your common little friends piled one on top of the other could even lap at my august toes?

You mightn’t think of Proust as a ball of fun, but this scene between him and Baron Charlus really is very funny. Summoned to the Baron’s house late at night Marcel is subjected to a furious tongue-lashing. The baron is absolutely beside himself – and Marcel has no idea what he’s done to deserve it.

Eventually it’s Marcel’s turn to lose his temper:

I flung myself on the baron’s new top hat, threw it on the ground, trampled it, and bent on tearing it to pieces, pulled out the lining and tore the crown in half…

That’s the most exercise we ever see Marcel take. I bet he had to go to bed for some days afterwards.

But what a great insult from Charlus. Remember it next time one of your friends slights you.

Image: Wikimedia Commons Robert de Montesquiou (said to be the inspiration for Charlus).

12 thoughts on “My august toes

      1. In Finland, PhDs get a top hat and a sword, so of course we went shopping for an outfit for Regina when she got her degrees. The only top hats that we could find in Seattle that fit the bill were in the neighborhood of $500, and they did indeed appear to be able to withstand a great deal of abuse. She ended up with a bowler, and a sturdy knife from REI for hiking.

        1. It’s always been my ambition to migrate to Finland. All the more reason now, though perhaps I’m a bit past the PhD stage. Still, there was a PhD of 92 in the paper the other day.
          How very Regina, a bowler and a sturdy knife!

          1. After getting my MFA at a slightly greater age than many, I did consider going on for a PhD. Never too late, I’m sure. I might do it after I have a book or two published. As for Finland — the weather would be (delightfully?) different.

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