By Benjamin Taylor

“Taylor’s activity isn't to provide an explanation for the lifestyles by way of the unconventional or the unconventional by way of the lifestyles yet to teach how diverse occasions, assorted emotional upheavals, fired Proust’s mind's eye and, albeit occasionally thoroughly reworked, seemed in his paintings. the result's a really sophisticated, thought-provoking book.”—Anka Muhlstein, writer of Balzac’s Omelette and Monsieur Proust’s Library
Marcel Proust got here into his personal as a novelist relatively past due in existence, but in simple terms Shakespeare, Balzac, Dickens, Tolstoy, and Dostoyevsky have been his equals while it got here to making characters as memorably human. As biographer Benjamin Taylor indicates, Proust used to be a literary light-weight ahead of writing his multivolume masterwork looking for misplaced Time, yet following a sequence of momentous ancient and private occasions, he became—against all expectations—one of the best writers of his, and certainly any, era.
This insightful, fantastically written biography examines Proust’s creative struggles—the “search” of the subtitle—and wonderful metamorphosis within the context of his instances. Taylor presents an in-depth research of the author’s existence whereas exploring how Proust’s own correspondence and released works have been significantly expert by means of his mother’s Judaism, his homosexuality, and such dramatic occasions because the Dreyfus Affair and, especially, international battle I. As Taylor writes in his prologue, “Proust’s seek is the main encyclopedic of novels, encompassing the necessities of human nature. . . . His account, working from the early years of the 3rd Republic to the aftermath of worldwide battle I, turns into the inclusive tale of all lives, a enormous mimesis. To learn the total seek is to discover oneself transfigured and successful at journey’s finish, at domestic in time and in eternity too.”

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Straus and Mme. Lemaire, Proust made his way into that of Mme Arman de Caillavet, where he was befriended by Gaston Arman, her son, later a successful dramatist, and met Jeanne Pouquet, with whom Gaston was in love. In a gesture of chivalric playacting that would be characteristic, Marcel paid court to her, whom he would later call the second great love of his life after little Marie Benardaky. This tendency is familiar to most young homosexuals obliged to dissimulate what they feel: displacement of romantic love for a friend onto the friend’s sweetheart.

By June his social climbing had entered a new phase. At boulevard Malesherbes he hosted an ambitious dinner party of his own, exclusively male, and most all of the guests had the aristocratic “de” in their names. Marcel now felt free to ask the count for an introduction to his cousin the Comtesse Greffulhe, every snob’s highest goal. Beyond Élisabeth Greffulhe there was simply nowhere to climb. )17 On July 1, at the residence of the Princesse de Wagram, Marcel at last found himself in the presence of his longed-for countesse.

But it does seem clear that Reynaldo was Marcel’s first episode of reciprocated love—after years of wondering what such an experience would be. The musical prodigy addressed alternately as “dear child” and “my master” was who he’d longed for, body and soul, someone younger than himself but fully formed, 36 proust manly and complete. ”27 In another unpublished letter to their hostess Reynaldo wrote: “How indulgent you are toward us, we who are such lunatics and so badly brought up. . ”28 “Old-fashioned” here means a good deal and it is certain that Mme Lemaire was aware of the nature of the attachment.

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