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A State Jew

David A. Bell: Léon Blum, 5 November 2015

Léon Blum: Prime Minister, Socialist, Zionist 
by Pierre Birnbaum, translated by Arthur Goldhammer.
Yale, 218 pp., £14.99, July 2015, 978 0 300 18980 3
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... to his lifelong infatuation with Stendhal, and to his similarities with the half-Jewish Marcel Proust (who knew Blum and thought poorly of his writing). He carefully notes what Blum read in captivity during the war: Cicero, Shakespeare and Goethe, but also Rousseau, Musset, Mme de La Fayette, La ...

The Albertine Workout

Anne Carson, 5 June 2014

... girl in France, although Albert is widespread for a boy.2. Albertine’s name occurs 2363 times in Proust’s novel, more than any other character.3. Albertine herself is present or mentioned on 807 pages of Proust’s novel.4. On a good 19 per cent of these pages she is asleep.5. Albertine is believed by some ...

My Shirt-Front Starched

Adam Phillips: Proust’s Megalomania, 28 July 2016

ProustThe Search 
by Benjamin Taylor.
Yale, 199 pp., £16.99, November 2015, 978 0 300 16416 9
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... Translating​ Proust’s novel back into his life, and then the life back into the novel, has been an abiding temptation both for those who know it well and for those who don’t. In part this is an effect of the novel, which is itself obsessed by what people want to know about one another, and why. As ‘the world of people we associate with bears so little resemblance to the way we imagine it,’ Proust writes, it would seem sensible to try to bridge the gap ...

Someone like Maman

Elisabeth Ladenson: Proust’s mother, 8 May 2008

Madame ProustA Biography 
by Evelyne Bloch-Dano, translated by Alice Kaplan.
Chicago, 310 pp., £16, October 2007, 978 0 226 05642 5
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... The heroic image of Proust in his cork-lined room, valiantly racing against death to finish his masterpiece, is now so ingrained that it eclipses that of the spoiled 30-year-old who left messages for his mother complaining about noise made by the servants; bullied her into throwing dinner parties for people who sneered at the family; and, later, challenged the father of a young man he had flirted with to a duel because the son had failed to respond with sufficient indignation to rumours about Proust’s sexual tendencies ...

Bonking with Berenson

Nicholas Penny, 17 September 1987

Bernard Berenson. Vol. II: The Making of a Legend 
by Ernest Samuels.
Harvard, 680 pp., £19.95, May 1987, 0 674 06779 7
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The Partnership: The Secret Association of Bernard Berenson and Joseph Duveen 
by Colin Simpson.
Bodley Head, 323 pp., £15, April 1987, 9780370305851
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... achievements is startlingly clear from his response in 1918 to a meeting with Marcel Proust: ‘We exchanged compliments and he assured me that my books had been bread and meat to him ... I confess I often wondered while reading Du Côté de chez Swann whether my books had not influenced him.’ In fact, we know that although ...

Each Cornflake

Ben Lerner: Knausgaard, Vol. 3, 22 May 2014

My Struggle: Vol. 3. Boyhood Island 
by Karl Ove Knausgaard, translated by Don Bartlett.
Harvill Secker, 490 pp., £12.99, March 2014, 978 1 84655 722 4
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... ascribe our interest to respectable literary values. Is Knausgaard, despite all the comparisons to Proust, more like reality TV – abject self-exposure from which we just can’t look away? Or perhaps, Clune suggests, people liken My Struggle to a drug because reading it can feel like consuming vast quantities of essentially undifferentiated material: all ...

A Mere Piece of Furniture

Dinah Birch: Jacqueline Rose’s take on Proust, 7 February 2002

Albertine 
by Jacqueline Rose.
Chatto, 205 pp., £14.99, October 2001, 0 7011 6976 1
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... an erotic obsession not her own in A la recherche du temps perdu: her Albertine struggles to deny Marcel’s containment. Now that Modernism is beginning to shift into history, Proust’s vast and complex novel is acquiring a cultural status akin to that of Hamlet. Rose’s is among a flurry of Proustian ...

Bogey’s Clean Sweep

Michael Holroyd, 22 May 1980

The Life of Katherine Mansfield 
by Antony Alpers.
Cape, 466 pp., £9.50, May 1980, 0 224 01625 3
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... racked by asthma and all the ills of a youth whose mother had unmanned him with her kisses, lay Marcel Proust, completing his own great work about time present and time past. At Hogarth House, Richmond, on 4 November, Virginia Woolf, who had been ill again during the summer, wrote the last pages of Jacob’s Room, an experimental novel which declared ...

A life, surely?

Jenny Diski: To Portobello on Angel Dust, 18 February 1999

The Ossie Clark Diaries 
edited by Henrietta Rous.
Bloomsbury, 402 pp., £20, October 1998, 0 7475 3901 4
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... I write her a letter to express my feelings in a way she would understand? But then you’re not Marcel Proust, Os, so take your Valium and go to sleep. An intermittent boyfriend, Peter, walked out on Clark for good one night, but stopped at Ossie’s request to explain why: He said I looked battered. It was all so untidy and depressing, cigarette ...

Truffles for Potatoes

Ferdinand Mount: Little Rosebery, 22 September 2005

Rosebery: Statesman in Turmoil 
by Leo McKinstry.
Murray, 626 pp., £25, May 2005, 0 7195 5879 4
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... at all hours. It is piquant to think of those two drugged insomniacs, Archie Rosebery and Marcel Proust, simultaneously barrelling through the night, comforted by the moonlight and the scent of the blossom in the hedgerows. McKinstry gives us painstaking (but never dull) blow-by-blow accounts of the endless manoeuvrings to persuade Rosebery to ...

Diary

Kevin Kopelson: Confessions of a Plagiarist, 22 May 2008

... how tiresome that is. Take my last book, on the satirist David Sedaris. Not only do you get more Proust than you’d ever care for, you get an awful lot of Sedaris – pure, unadulterated Sedaris. It’s not that I’m lazy. Or rather, it’s not just that I’m lazy. I do much more in Sedaris than quote Sedaris, much more than simply ‘rhapsodise’ (to ...

Champion of Words

John Sturrock, 15 October 1987

Death and the Labyrinth: The World of Raymond Roussel 
by Michel Foucault, translated by Charles Ruas.
Athlone, 186 pp., £29.50, April 1987, 0 485 11336 8
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Raymond Roussel: Life, Death and Works. Essays and stories by various hands 
Atlas, 157 pp., £5.50, September 1987, 0 947757 14 7Show More
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... however, and tried complimentary copies on his relations and acquaintances, not forgetting young Marcel Proust, whose path he had very likely crossed socially – in the Boulevard Malesherbes the Prousts were living at No 9 when the Roussels were at No 25. Proust’s short thank-you note later formed part of the ...

Promenade Dora-Bruder

Adam Shatz: Patrick Modiano, 22 September 2016

So You Don’t Get Lost in the Neighbourhood 
by Patrick Modiano, translated by Euan Cameron.
MacLehose, 160 pp., £8.99, September 2016, 978 0 85705 499 9
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... sensation of emptiness and severed relationships.’ The Nobel committee described Modiano as a ‘Marcel Proust for our time’, and praised him for his exploration of ‘the art of memory’. But forgetting, not memory, is the real engine of his novels. His novels are usually told in the form of investigations, with touches of noir that led his early ...

Genius in Its Pure State

Mark Ford, 22 May 1997

... decided to write a book exploring his life, work and influence on a variety of artists, from Marcel Duchamp to Michel Foucault, John Ashbery to Georges Perec. I recently spent several months working my way through this enormous archive in the stately gloom of the ornately carved Salon de Manuscrits on the first floor of the Bibliothéque Nationale, just ...

Desire Was Everywhere

Adam Shatz, 16 December 2010

Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari: Intersecting Lives 
by François Dosse, translated by Deborah Glassman.
Columbia, 651 pp., £26, August 2010, 978 0 231 14560 2
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... left his fingertips painful to the touch, and he wore a scarf all summer. ‘It was like visiting Marcel Proust in his bedroom,’ a friend recalled.Philosophy became his refuge, from the moment he read Sartre’s Being and Nothingness. But he soon abandoned Sartre – and indeed anything influenced by Hegel and dialectics – in favour of vitalist ...

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