Marcel Proust

1871 - 1922

French writer of a mammoth multi-volume life's work that explored human sensations and attempted to chart the whole of a life's experience.

Proust is remembered for his mighty work, Rememberance of Things Past which took him the last ten years of his short life to write. He attempted to make it a novel that would completely chart life through the exploration of seemingly insignificant events.

His unique style and genius in composing this work have made it a literary classic.

He was a Parisian man who from the early days of his life suffered from asthma which caused his later solitude. He made his solitude a cornerstone of a new aesthetics.
Proust had two great passions in life which are portrayed in the Remembrance of Things Past, that is epistemophilia and speculophilia. He desired to know and speculate about others and wanted to know what happiness when he is not present with the others.

The caption of time is another milestone in his novel. Memories, emotions, consciousness transform into multiple fragmentary types of experience. When they occur in a given moment they give totally new meaning to a man. Everything floats, everything changes. The past exists in the depths of our subconscousness.

Proust had an unusual way of writing: he wrote in bed, in worn clothes, taking lots of drugs, staying all day in overheated rooms. Writing was all his life and he wrote for himself. Proust published first the book himself. However, nobody noticed it. It was after the I World War, when the Part II received a prestigious Goncourt prize. After that, Proust became a well known writer.
His second autobiographical novel, Jean Santeuil, was published after his death in 1952. It is written in the 3rd person narration in comparison to 1st person narration in Rememberance of Things Past. Jean Santeuil is a novel about a man who goes through life not knowing the future. In >Rememberance of Things Past the future is known and it is already ?lost time?. The past, present and future exist concurrently in Proust?s novels.

After Proust's death the literary world received: J. Joyce Ulysses in 1922 and V. Woolf Mrs Dalloway in 1925 who explored the stream of consciousness technique and further the aspect of time.

Recent biographies:
Marcel Proust: A life by Jean-Yves Tadie, translated by Evan Cameron, Viking/ Penguin
Marcel Proust: A Life by William Carter, Yale University Press
Consult also Proust et les signes (Proust and Signs) by Gilles Deleuze (20thc. philosopher).



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