This Day In Writing History
On July 10th, 1871, the legendary French novelist, essayist, and critic Marcel Proust was born. He was born Valentin Louis Georges Eugene Marcel Proust in Auteuil, France.
Proust's family was affluent, as his father, Achille Adrien Proust, was a prominent pathologist and epidemiologist whose work was dedicated to containing the epidemic of cholera in Europe and Asia. He wrote many books and articles on medicine and hygiene.
Marcel's mother, Jeanne, was the daughter of a wealthy, intellectual Jewish family. He was very close to her. As a boy, Marcel Proust was a sickly child. He suffered his first serious asthma attack at the age of nine.
At the age of eleven, he enrolled as a student at the Lycee Condorcet. Despite the fact that his education was often interrupted by his health problems, he excelled at his studies and won an award in his final year.
Proust began writing at an early age. In 1890, when he was nineteen and still in school, in addition to being published in literary magazines, for a year, Proust published a regular society column in the journal La Mensuel.
In 1892, he helped found a literary magazine called La Banquet, where his short pieces would often be published. He was also published in the famous Le Revue Blanche.
As a young man, the dandy Proust was a dilettante and social climber, lacking the discipline required to fulfill his aspiration to be a great novelist. He garnered a reputation as an amateur and a snob, then finally got serious, buckled down, and began writing what would become his magnum opus.
À La Recherche Du Temps Perdu, or In Search Of Lost Time, was a 3,000+ page epic semi autobiographical novel. It would be published in English as Remembrance Of Things Past.
After numerous rejections, Remembrance Of Things Past would be published in a series of seven volumes over a period of 14 years, with the last two volumes published posthumously.
Proust's dazzling novel is rightfully considered one of the greatest ever written, and continues to influence writers and scholars to this day. It was shaped by people and events in Proust's life, including his own experiences.
He employed a lyrical, incredibly detail rich narrative, often melancholic and fascinated with the nature of memories, especially involuntary memories, which are triggered by seeing a certain object, hearing a certain sound, or smelling a certain aroma.
Proust was gay, and homosexuality was a major theme in his novel, making him one of the first European writers to depict homosexuality openly, honestly, and at length.
Writing Remembrance Of Things Past would take a toll on Marcel Proust's chronically poor health. During the last three years of his life, he was mostly confined to his bedroom.
He slept during the day and wrote at night, struggling to complete his novel. In 1922, after he had finished the book, Proust contracted pneumonia and later died of a pulmonary abscess at the age of 51.
If you would like to download the free, public domain e-book version of Swann's Way, the first volume of Marcel Proust's classic novel, Remembrance Of Things Past, you can find it here at Munseys' Archive.
Quote Of The Day
"Every reader finds himself. The writer's work is merely a kind of optical instrument that makes it possible for the reader to discern what, without this book, he would perhaps never have seen in himself." - Marcel Proust
Today's video features a reading from Swann's Way, the first volume of Marcel Proust's classic novel, Remembrance Of Things Past. Enjoy!