Night before last I read something that was breathtakingly beautiful. In Guermantes Way, the third volume of In Search of Lost Time, the narrator is sitting in the Opéra, observing the beautiful women in their parterre boxes above him.  “At first there were only vague shadows in which one suddenly encountered, like the gleam of an unseen jewel, the phosphorescence of a pair of famous eyes….” This is slow-going writing. Take it easy, give the writing time. Much of In Search of Lost Time is like this. Give in to it. And remember always that the author of this superb writing is gay.
“But in almost all of the other boxes [of the opera house], the white deities who inhabited these dark abodes had taken refuge against their shadowy walls and remained invisible. Yet, as the performance proceeded, their vaguely human forms began to emerge in languid succession from the depths of the darkness they embroidered, and, rising toward the light, they allowed their half-naked bodies to emerge as far as the vertical surface of the half-light where their gleaming faces appeared behind the gently playful foam of their fluttering feather fans, and beneath their purple, pearl-threaded coiffures, which seemed to have been bent by the motion of incoming waves; beyond lay the front orchestra, the abode of mortals forever separated from the somber transparent realm to which the limpid and reflecting eyes of the water goddesses, dotted about on the smooth liquid surface, served as a frontier…. Within the limits of their domain…these radiant daughters of the sea were constantly turning round to smile at the bearded tritons who hung from the anfractuous rocks of the ocean depths, or at some aquatic demigod, whose skull was a polished stone, around which the tide had washed up a smooth deposit of seaweed, and whose gaze  was a disc of rock crystal.They leaned toward these creatures and offered them bonbons; occasionally the waters parted to reveal a new Nereid who had just blossomed out of the shadowy depths, a late arrival who smiled apologetically; then, at the end of the act, with no further hope of hearing the melodious sounds of the earth that had drawn them to the surface, the divine sisters plunged back together and disappeared in the darkness. But of all these retreats to whose thresholds their idle curiosity to behold the works of man brought the inquisitive goddesses who let no one approach them, the most celebrated was the block of semidarkness known as the parterre box of the Princesse de Guermantes.”
The Princesse de Guermantes is one of the major characters in In Search of Lost Time. Her family—what happens to its members, what they represent for Proust—is one of the major subjects for Marcel Proust. 
“Like a great goddess who presides from afar over the sport of lesser deities, the Princesse had deliberately remained somewhat to the back of her box, on a side-facing sofa, red as a coral rock, beside a wide, vitreous reflection that was probably a mirror, and which suggested a section, perpendicular, dark, and liquid, cut by a ray of sunlight in the dazzled crystal of the sea. At once a feather and a corolla, like certain marine plants, a great white flower, as downy as a bird’s wing, hung down from the Princesse’s forehead along one of her cheeks, following its curve with flirtatious suppleness, lovingly attentive, as if half enclosing it, like a pink egg in the down of a halcyon’s nest….”
Someone in the narrator’s hearing says, “That’s the Princesse de Guermantes,” and the irony of this glowing portrait of her in public is that what her family represents is failure. Failure to produce, failure to thrive, failure to cope, failure to be on the right side of the great issues her generation confronted. The youngest member of her family is the Marquis de Saint-Loup, who is her husband’s cousin and who is to die on the Western Front before the end of World War I, before the end of In Search of Lost Time, and who is gay.
Marcel Proust, Guermantes Way, vol. III of In Search of Lost Time. Translated by Mark Treharne. General editor Christopher Prendergast. London, Penguin Books, 2002.