Carter, William C.
Marcel Proust: A Life. New Haven: Yale
After trying to get through this massive biography
for over a year and a half, I finally set it aside.
It's comprehensive, detailed, more responsible
than Tadié, and although I was moved early on
by the descriptions of Proust's sickly
childhood, it quickly became dry and mechanical.
Proust at the Majestic: The Last Days of the Author
Whose Book Changed Paris. New York: Bloomsbury,
A tantalizing topic: the evening of May 18, 1922,
that Proust spent dining with Joyce, Picasso,
Diaghilev, and Stravinsky at the Majestic hotel
after the premier of Renard. A number
of anecdotes circulate about the disappointing
nature of the conversation that exceptional evening,
and Davenport-Hines relates them all here. And
that's about it for the first chapter: no
details of interest that haven't been rehearsed
better elsewhere. The remaining 250 pages fail to
substantiate how Proust's novel "changed
Paris" (in fact, there's no pretense to
even trying). I sense Davenport-Hines has tried to
hitch his star to the recent wavelet of popular
interest in Proust. This is cotton candy advertised
Proust: A Biography. New York: Carroll
& Graf, 1990.
This thorough, solid, unpretentious, dependable
biography, with its delightfully enlightening
details, make it the biography I return to again and
Marcel Proust: A Biography. 2 vols. New
York: Vintage, 1959.
This monumental literary biography is justifiably
famous. Yet it was written without access to
much of Proust's correspondence, is often
gossipy in tone, and conflates Proust's fiction
with his life.
Marcel Proust: A Life. Trans. Evan
Cameron. New York: Viking, 2000. Translation of
Marcel Proust. Paris: Gallimard, 1996.
Tadié is the editor-in-chief of the new
Pléiade edition of the
Recherche. If Proust's Narrator
disparagingly describes a "littérature
de notations," Tadié has written a
"biographie de notations": a collection of
editorial notes forced into a biographical
narrative. I'm not sure I'm even going to be
using it as a reference work. Poorly written, poorly
translated. My favorite clunker (left hanging,
without any elaboration whatsoever) is, "It was
through fashion that the young man discovered the
passage of time" (117).
Online review at:
Marcel Proust. New York : Lipper/Viking,
If you can forgive White for over-emphasizing
everything homosexual in Proust's life and
works, this short work is all almost anyone needs in
a biography of Proust.
Online review at:
The New York Review of Books.