Friday, March 30, 2012

Sneering with rage at the new people

M. discovers an unknown world as he and his grandmother lunch on their first day at the Grand Hotel. He sees multiple layers of society comingle at the seaside, and he devotes many pages to describe the snobbery he encounters there.

He and his grandmother are scrutinized by people using their "lorgnettes" (theatre glasses) to stare at them, "...because we were eating hard-boiled eggs in salad, which was considered common and was not done in the best society."

He accuses people of having "pretensions to aristocracy," and describes a large table of people that are "inexhaustibly sarcastic," and who "sneer with rage at new people."

"It was their haughtiness that preserved them intact from all human sympathy, from arousing the least interest in the strangers seated round about them, among whom M. de Stermaria kept up the glacial, preoccupied, distant, stiff, touchy and ill-intentioned air that we assume in a railway refreshment room..."

"I was not yet old enough, and was still too sensitive to have outgrown the desire to find favor in the sight of other people and to possess their hearts. Nor had I acquired the more noble indifference which a man of the world would have felt towards the people who were eating in the dining room..."

"Alas for my peace of mind, I had none of the detachment that all these people showed."

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