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Hardcover Marcel Proust: A Life Book

ISBN: 0300081456

ISBN13: 9780300081459

Marcel Proust: A Life

(Part of the Henry McBride Series in Modernism and Modernity Series)

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Book Overview

The extraordinary life and times of Marcel Proust, one of the greatest literary voices of the twentieth century, by "Proust's definitive biographer" (Harold Bloom) Selected by New York Times Book... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

4 ratings

A Proustification

Carter captures the essence of Proust. This is a "must" read for anyone who is truly serious about "little Marcel." Fascinating! Will actually stimulate me to go back and charge through Remembrance of Things Past once again.

Life of a Brilliant Novelist

Having read George Painter's two-volume biography of Proust many years ago, I might be unfair in comparing it to Carter's new biography, but my impression is that Carter has vastly outdone Painter. He has managed to write a very detailed, yet quite readable and engrossing biography of Proust. I think that conflating Proust and the narrator of "A la recherche..." has tended to diminish the author's genius, as if he had merely written a fascinating autobiography. Carter confirms Proust as a novelist, not a memoirist. Certainly, he helps the reader understand who may have inspired Proust's characters, but makes clear that Proust's imagination was the main engine behind the world he created. Some readers might be disappointed that there isn't more literary analysis of "La Recherche" in this biography, but Carter is adept at presenting passages from the novel that are representative of its genius and beauty. I'd also like to mention that the book is physically attractive, with a handsome typeface, and that there are very few typos and grammatical errors.

Aa readable and sensitive biography

This is a dangerous book. If you have not read In Search of Lost Time in all of its infamous 3000 pages and you pick up this book, beware. Chances are, like me, you will find yourself juggling this great biography, Vol 1. of the Search, and Roger Shattuck's Proust's "Way, A guide to In Search of Lost Time" all at the same time. Carter's biography is the first comprehensive one in 40 years and is based on much new information not available in the Painter volumes of the late 50's and early 60's. I ordered this biography and it immediately got me hooked. Proust, in all his eccentricity (sometimes hilarious) comes off as a real and likeable person. He is certainly a different person than the one living in his corked lined room writing page after page describing the wallpaper in his room that Dr. Kaufman taught us about in my 1958 high school World Literature class. At 800 pages, it at first appears to be a daunting read. What could be more boring than the life of an aristocratic French mama's boy never to earn more than a few Francs on his own until way past 30 years. It is hardly boring. Proust was an exceedingly complex person. (Aren't we all?) Proust was plagued by asthma that his doctors kept assuring him was psychosomatic in origin, and in some wisdom, he knew to be otherwise. Living at home totally supported by his mother and father, he lead an extravagant lifestyle, often leaving what amounted to $200.00 tips to the carriage driver. It was a salon society and Proust was a member of perhaps dozens. We tour the various salons and their status climbing members and hosts. In Carter's thorough biography we get to see the society of Proust in much the same way as he saw it.Letters and more letters! This was the time and place of letter writers but, whew! Proust would write as many as three letters a day to his mother while living in the same house. Letters to friends, lovers, enemies. Gads, it hardly seems like there was time for anything else. Some times the story of Proust becomes surreal. It appears that being a critic in this time in France was almost a death defying act. Trash a play or book and you were likely to be challenged to a duel. Well a sort of a duel, as by this time the duel was important but nobody was aiming to kill. Proust had his manhood challenged by a critic. Proust challenged the critic to a duel and it was accepted. The time and place was 9:00 am in a woods outside of Paris. Proust instructed his seconds to rearrange the time to 3:00 pm in the afternoon as 9:00 am was not a time when decent persons were up and about. Proust's bullet strucked the ground inches from his opponent indicating he was shooting to kill. Quite a dangerous mama's boy. Carter handles Proust's sexuality in a refreshing and matter of fact way. Neither making him into a homosexual hero as some have done with Wilde -- though Wilde can take the blame for much of that himself -- nor treating him as some sort of sexua

The Finest Yet

William C. Carter's new biography of Marcel Proust is the finest yet. With a strong narrative line and a profound and sensitive understanding of the writer and his work, it carries us along like a great novel. Drawing on resources unavailable to George Painter (whose biography was for years the standard reference), Carter is able to fill in the gaps with entries from Proust's letters and those he received from friends and editors. Marcel Proust was almost certainly the pivotal literary figure between two centuries, a writer of great courage and humor, and it is to Carter's credit that now, as we stand on the edge of yet another century, Proust is seen to be as relevant to our age as he was to his own. This, certainly, will become the standard life of this very important writer.
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