||Overture: like a swan -- Rara avis (June 2, 1885) -- Leitmotif: pretty birds -- My Don Giovanni, my Faust -- The kingdom of shadows -- Habanera: oiseaux rebelles -- Bohemia's child -- The fall and the rise -- Good for the goose -- Improvisation: trills and feathers -- The art of being seen -- Bagatelle: birdsong -- Prince Charming -- Paris high and low -- A modern-day Aramis -- Chorale: lovebirds -- The lunatic, the lover, and the poet -- Lame ducks -- Variations: caged birds -- Kisses never given -- Fodder for sonnets -- Birds of paradise -- The picture of Mme Bizet -- Cadenza: painters, writers, parrots, prophets -- Elegance for beginners -- Our heart -- Pavane: pair-bonding -- In which Proust is disappointed -- Lament: oiseaux tristes -- Dead love, still undying -- The replacements -- Goddesses and monsters -- So long as the gesture is beautiful -- Sovereigns of transitory things (May 30, 1894) -- Rondo: the real king of bids, or vive le roitelet -- Coda: swan song.
||"A brilliant look at the glittering world of turn-of-the-century Paris through the first in-depth study of the three women Proust used to create his supreme fictional character, the Duchesse de Guermantes. Geneviève Halévy Bizet Straus; Laure de Sade, Comtesse de Adhéaume de Chevigné; and Élisabeth de Riquet de Caraman-Chimay, the Comtesse Greffuhle--these were the three superstars of fin-de-siècle Parisian high society who, as Caroline Weber says, "transformed themselves, and were transformed by those around them, into living legends: paragons of elegance, nobility, and style." All well but unhappily married, these women sought freedom and fulfillment by reinventing themselves, between the 1870s and 1890s, as icons. At their fabled salons, they inspired the creativity of several generations of writers, visual artists, composers, designers, and journalists. Against a rich historical backdrop, Weber takes the reader into these women's daily lives of masked balls, hunts, dinners, court visits, nights at the opera or theater. But we see as well the loneliness, rigid social rules, and loveless, arranged marriages that constricted these women's lives. Proust, as a twenty-year-old law student in 1892, would worship them from afar, and later meet them and create his celebrated composite character for The Remembrance of Things Past"-- Provided by publisher.