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Synopsis

This book is the fourth of seven volumes of C. K. Scott Moncrieff's popular translation of Proust's massive semi-autobiographical novel, A la Recherche du Temps Perdu (as published by the Modern Library in the 1930s). Its title was once translated as Cities of the Plain, perhaps because the mention of Sodom was once too suggestive to earlier readers. This book entails the last few pages of The Guermantes Way and the two volumes of Sodome et Gomorrhe that Proust published near the end of his life. Indeed, this is the last volume of the novel that Proust guided through publication. Proust's writing throughout the thousands of pages of the Search... fluctuates in its ability to hold a reader's attention. This volume exhibits a sharper wit, more acute cultural critique, and even a surprising vulgarity not so much in evidence in the previous volumes. It opens, more or less, with our narrator, Marcel, witnessing an assignation between the Baron de Charlus and Jupien, a tailor and guide to brothels of either men or women. It is a vivid and sordid affair, and we see it from young Marcel's improbable but revealing eavesdropping.

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