Where do they live after marriage?
In working through the question of “where did they live after marriage?”, I first thought I had made a clearing through the “imprecision” of the actual street. I thought that evanescent street was Allée des Acacias and I slogged through several hours under this hypothesis. But it turned out to be wrong.
Allée des Acacias is mentioned often throughout The Search. Like the church of Saint-André-des-Champs, the name has a special resonance.
Allée des Acacias was the glamorous promenade (near or in the Bois de Boulogne) where the famous beauties and gentlemen of the day went to meet, to see and to be seen. it was the pinnacle of class, display and desire. Saint Loup was seen aboard a horse there [GW 91]. Mme Swann was accustomed to walking there almost every day. She would meet a friend or just hurry by causing the men who had known her formerly as Odette de Crécy to suck in their breaths and in homage raise their hats to her.
The passage which solidifies the fact that the Swann residence is not located on the Allée des Acacias takes place when Marcel is visiting them. An exchange between M and Mme Swann intrigues him when they speak of some Singhalese at the Zoo. Marcel then desires to go to the Zoo, but not to see the Singhalese; rather, because on the way to the Zoo , “and again on our way home, we should pass through the Allée des Acacias in which I used to gaze so admiringly at Mme Swann …”[BG 576] So the residence that Marcel visits is not the Allée des Acacias. – since he will have to pass it on the way to the Zoo.
At the macabre gathering at the Princess de Guermantes’ – formerly Mme Verdurin .. Marcel sees many of the figures from his past now grown old (and sometimes repulsive). For some, changed appearance is portrayed as disguise belying the true person. But Odette, now Mme , was an exceptional miracle, defying the laws of chronology. She seemed to have had a second birth; or perhaps her life was arrested in time. She is still an extraordinary beauty and still artificial in speech in her anxiety to be smart. With her golden (dyed) hair and flat straw hat, others might have seen her as “the Exhibition of 1878” [TR 991]. However, for Marcel, Odette, even now, in her eternal beauty and magic, is not the Exhibition of 1878. She is the very embodiment of the soul of the Allée des Acacias – that pinnacle of display and desire.
And indeed, for me she seemed to say, not so much: “I am the Exhibition of 1878 ” as: “I am the Allée des Acacias of 1892. ” That was where, it seemed, she still might have been. [TR 993]
Addendum: Perhaps the dates here are helpful in working out the internal chronology of the Search – but that fuzzy subject is treated by experts elsewhere!