Proust, Marcel

WRITER (FRANCE)
BORN 10 Jul 1871, Auteuil - DIED 18 Nov 1922, Paris: 44 Rue Hamelin
GRAVE LOCATION Paris: Père Lachaise, Rue du Repos 16 (division 85, 1ere ligne, J, 11)

Marcel Proust was the son of the famous epidemiologist Achille Adrien Proust. His mother was the daughter of a Jewish banker. Marcel was an asthmatic and sickly child, but he served in the French army in 1889-1890. He was homosexual and in an attempt to make a 'normal man' out of him at one time his father sent him to a brothel.

By 1892 young Proust was involved in the journal "Le Banquet" and wrote for "La Revue Blanche". A collection of his writings was published in "Les Plaisirs et les Jours" (1896). He also started working on a novel that wasn't published until 1954.

Against his father's wishes he didn't pursue a career and in 1896 he started working as a volunteer at the Bibliothèque Mazarine. But in reality he never worked there and he soon took an extensive sick leave, lasting until the library decided that his employment had ended.

He was influenced by the work of John Ruskin, that he studied thoroughly. He still lived at home when in 1903 his brother married and his father died. In 1905 his beloved mother also died and he received a huge inheritance.

His main work was "À la recherche du temps perdu" ("Remembrance of Things Past"), an autobiographical novel of over 3.000 pages, published in seven volumes from 1913 to 1927. He had started it in 1909 and completed it not long before his death. By 1919 his health had detoriated and he spent most of his time in his bedroom, where he slept during the day and worked during the night. Before he was able to complete the revision of the proofs he had died in 1922. The last three volumes were edited and published by his brother Robert.

Proust was among the first authors to write about homosexuality at length. Among his lovers were the composer Raynaldo Hahn and his own chauffeur, Alfred Agostinelli. Possibly Jacques Bizet, the son of the composer Georges Bizet, was also his lover. His wish was that he would be buried beside another lover, the composer Maurice Ravel, but the family's wouldn't allow it and Ravel was buried at the Levallois Cimetière in 1937.

Related persons
• was a friend of Barney, Natalie Clifford
• was written about by Maurois, André
• was influenced by Montesquiou-Fezensac, Robert, Comte de
• was influenced by Nerval, Gérard de
• had as physician Pozzi, Samuel Jean de
• admired Ruskin, John

Sources
• Culbertson, Judi & Tom Randall, Permanent Parisians, Robson Books, London, 1991
Marcel Proust - Wikipedia

Images

The grave of Marcel Proust at Père Lachaise, Paris.
Picture by Androom (28 Aug 2001)

 


Prud'hon, Pierre-Paul

Published: 30 Sep 2007
Last update: 7 Nov 2010