Whirlwinds and Spirals

“At his large dinner party –there were about sixty guests– Marcel tried a dangerous stratagem: that of seating people next to each other who normally should have been at each other’s throats. Léon Daudet was surprised to learn that that ‘ravishing young lady’ next to him was the daughter of a well-known Jewish banker. Daudet’s wonder increased as he realized other tables resembled his own, where ‘rabid enemies’ calmly ‘chewed their cold-jellied chicken within two meters of each other.” He attributed this tour de force, which no one else in Paris could have achieved, to the ‘torrents of understanding and good will that emanated from Marcel, spreading in whirlwinds and spirals through the dining room.’ The host was delighted that his risky little experiment in social chemistry had succeeded. He modestly explained to Daudet that everything depended on how smoothly and adroitly the introductions, the first contacts, were carried out. Marcel had done this brilliantly, insulating those seated at each table in generous buffers of his charm.” (Marcel Proust, A Life. William C. Carter. pp.302.)

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