Marcel Proust Biography

Marcel Proust, the acclaimed twentieth century novelist, is known for his compelling and impressive writing that inspired a whole generation of great writers. His magnum opus ‘In Search of Lost Time’ earned him fame and recognition, depicting a society plagued by chaos and absurdities brought about by industrialization. Despite the cynicism, Proust found inspiration to write and his impact on literature is compared to that of Tolstoy during the nineteenth century.

Quick Facts

  • Born Country: France
  • Died At Age: 51
  • Died on: November 18, 1922
  • Place of Death: Paris, France
  • Cause of Death: Pneumonia
  • Family:
    • Father: Achille Adrien Proust
    • Mother: Jeanne Clémence Weil
    • Siblings: Robert
  • Education: Lycée Condorcet
  • Notable Alumni: Lycée Condorcet
  • Grouping of People: Gay
  • Quotes By Marcel Proust

Childhood & Early Life

Marcel Proust was born as Valentin-Louis-Georges-Eugene-Marcel Proust to Achille Adrien Proust, a famous doctor in Paris. He was just nine when he had a serious asthma attack. After the incident, his parents were extremely careful about his health and did not allow him to attend school as a regular student initially.

In 1882, he attended the Lycée Condorcet School but his education was again interrupted due to illness. Nevertheless, he received an award for displaying extraordinary skills in literature in the final year.

Career

Proust served in the French army from 1889 to 1890, during which he was stationed at the Coligny Barracks in Orléans. From 1890 to 1891, he contributed columns to the journal ‘Le Mensuel’. He was also one of the founding members of the literary periodical called ‘Le Banquet’ in which he published a number of articles.

In 1896, he published his first book titled, ‘Les Plaisirs et les Jours’, which comprised a collection of essays, short stories and poems. Proust tried to write a novel but did not succeed and began translating and interpreting the works of the English art historian, John Ruskin.

The year 1908 proved beneficial for him as he began writing satires on the works by other writers, all of which were published in the daily newspaper ‘Le Figaro’. These writings rendered him the confidence to expand the horizon of his works. Thus, he began writing essays, articles and short stories, eventually merging and developing them into a single novel.

He converted his essay ‘Contre Sainte-Beuve’, into a single novel in 1909. He titled it as ‘À la recherche du temps perdu’ and the first part of the novel ‘Du Côté de chez Swann’ was published in 1913. In 1919, the second part of the novel ‘À l’ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs’, was published. Proust published the last three volumes during the last three years of his life.

Major Works

His masterpiece ‘À la recherche du temps perdu’, translated as ‘In Search of Lost Time’ in English, was called the “greatest novel of the 20th century” by Graham Greene, and “greatest fiction to date” by W. Somerset Maugham.

Personal Life & Legacy

Proust was a homosexual and was one of the first European novelists to write on the subject of homosexuality. The writer was deeply affected by the death of his mother in September 1905. After the death of his mother, his health began to deteriorate and he spent the last three years of his life in his cork-lined bedroom. He died of pneumonia and a pulmonary inflammation and was buried in the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.

Quotes

Life

Trivia

This famous novelist was homosexual and never married. He was known to have an affair with Reynaldo Hahn, a composer, conductor, music critic, diarist and singer.

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