- 12:12 pm - July 10, 2012
- 17 notes
Today is the 141st anniversary of Marcel Proust’s birth! This is a picture of him playing air guitar on a tennis racket!
Are you longing for a little Proust in your life but not, quite, prepared for In Search of Lost Time? Here are a few recommendations:
- Marcel Proust: A Life by Edmund White
A short-form biography that captures the wit, loneliness, and obsessiveness of the great 20th-century writer.
- Proust’s Overcoat: The True Story of One Man’s Passion for All Things Proust by Lorenza Foschini
In which Italian journalist Foschini tells the story of Jacques Guérin, a French perfumier, whose infatuation with Proust led him on a quest to obtain anything the writer had touched.
- Monsieur Proust by Céleste Albaret
A lengthier memoir, at 456 pp, but c’mon: Albaret was Proust’s housekeeper for the last nine years of his life and helped him to assemble the manuscript of In Search of Lost Time. Proust himself said to her, “You know everything about me.”
- Pleasures and Regrets by Marcel Proust
Proust’s first published work! A collection of thoughtful essays, sketches, and stories (and only 200 pp).
- The Proust Questionnaire
Click through to take Vanity Fair’s modern version of the 19th-century personality parlor game—at the end, you will learn which “luminary” answered similarly (Joan Didion for me). You can also find Proust’s answers, from 1890, here.
And, from Swann’s Way, some thoughts on reading:
A ‘real’ person, profoundly as we may sympathise with him, is in a great measure perceptible only through our senses, that is to say, he remains opaque, offers a dead weight which our sensibilities have not the strength to lift … The novelist’s happy discovery was to think of substituting for those opaque sections, impenetrable by the human spirit, their equivalent in immaterial sections, things, that is, which the spirit can assimilate to itself. After which it matters not that the actions, the feelings of this new order of creatures appear to us in the guise of truth, since we have made them our own, since it is in ourselves that they are happening, that they are holding in thrall, while we turn over, feverishly, the pages of the book, our quickened breath and staring eyes. And once the novelist has brought us to that state, in which, as in all purely mental states, every emotion is multiplied ten-fold … why, then, for the space of an hour he sets free within us all the joys and sorrows in the world.