Marcel Proust (1871-1922): Life
This is the first comprehensive biography of Marcel Proust in English since George Painter's biography was published in 1959. Like Proust's masterpiece, the biography is structured as the story of the writer's slow and at times excruciatingly painful search for a vocation. Proust emerges from Carter's narrative as an extremely complicated, difficult and brilliant man. Carter elucidates Proust's curious sexual identity: from his intense and often histrionic relationships with his male friends, to his quasi-pathological attachment to his mother, to the bizarre sexual fetishes that emerged in his visits to brothels. But the biography focuses firmly on Proust's development as an artist: the distracted years as a dilettante in high society, the dabbling in journalism and translation, and, finally, his emergence as one of the great literary voices of the twentieth century. This is a full, rich, deep, and all encompassing biography of one of the great writers in the world, and a cultural history of his times.
The acclaimed Proust biographer William C. Carter portrays Proust’s amorous adventures and misadventures from adolescence through his adult years, supplying where appropriate Proust’s own sensitive, intelligent, and often disillusioned observations about love and sexuality. Proust is revealed as a man agonizingly caught between the constant fear of public exposure as a homosexual and the need to find and express love. In telling his story, Carter also shows how the author’s experiences became major themes in Proust's novel. Carter discusses Proust’s adolescent sexual experiences, his disastrous brothel visit to cure homosexual inclinations, and his first great loves. He also addresses the duel Proust fought after the journalist Jean Lorrain alluded to his homosexuality in print, his flirtations with respectable women and high-class prostitutes, and his affairs with young men of the servant class.
Marcel Proust was arguably the greatest writer of the twentieth century. This fascinating, definitive biography by the premier world authority on Proust redefines the way we look at both the artist and the man. A bestseller in France, where it was originally published to great critical acclaim, Jean-Yves Tadié's monumental life of Proust makes use of a wealth of primary material only recently made available. Marcel Proust: A Life provides a scrupulously researched and engaging picture of the intellectual and social universe that fed Proust's art, along with an indispensable critical reading of the work itself. The result is authoritative, magisterial, and a beautiful example of the art of biography.
If there is anyone worthy of producing an intimate biography of the enigmatic genius behind Remembrance of Things Past, it is Edmund White, himself an award-winning writer for whom Marcel Proust has long been an obsession. White introduces us not only to the recluse endlessly rewriting his one massive work through the night, but also the darling of Parisian salons, the grasper after honors, and the closeted homosexual – a subject this book is the first to explore openly. From the frothiest gossip to the deepest angst, here is a moving portrait to be treasured by anyone looking for an introduction to this literary icon.