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Meet the Author
Marcel Proust was born in Auteuil in 1871. His father, an eminent Professor of Medicine, was Roman Catholic and his mother was Jewish, factors that were to play an important role in his life and work. He was a brilliant, very literary schoolboy, and later a half-hearted student of law and political science. In his twenties he became an assiduous society figure, frequenting the most fashionable Paris salons of the day. During this period he published a volume of sketches and stories, Les Plaisirs et le jours, and between 1895 and 1900 wrote a novel, Jean Santeuil, which was in many ways a first draft for his masterpiece À la recherche du temps perdu.
After 1899 his chronic asthma, the death of his parents and his growing impatience with society caused him to lead an increasingly retired life. In the early 1900s he produced celebrated literary pastiches and translations of Ruskin, The Bible of Amiens and Sesame and Lilies and it was during this period that he wrote Contre Sainte-Beuve, although it was not published until 1954. From 1907, he rarely emerged from a sound-proofed room in his apartment on the Boulevard Hausmann in Paris, in order to insulate himself against the distractions of city life as well as the effect of the trees and flowers which he loved but which brought on his attacks of asthma. He slept by day and worked by night, writing letters and devoting himself to the completion of À la recherche du temps perdu. He died in 1922 before the publication of the last three books of his great work. With À la recherche du temps perdu Proust attempted the perfect rendering of life in art, of the past recreated through memory. It is both a portrait of the artist and a discovery of the aesthetic by which the portrait is painted, and it was to have an immense influence on the literature of the twentieth century.
Born to a wealthy family, iconic French writer Marcel Proust (1871-1922) studied law and literature. His social connections allowed him to become an observant habitué of the most exclusive drawing rooms of the nobility, and he wrote social pieces for Parisian journals. He published essays and stories, including the story collection Pleasures and Days (1896). He had suffered from asthma since childhood, and c. 1897 he began to disengage from social life as his health declined.
Half-Jewish himself, he became a major supporter of Alfred Dreyfus in the affair that made French anti-Semitism into a national issue. Deeply affected by his mother's death in 1905, he withdrew further from society. An incident of involuntary revival of childhood memory in 1909 led him to retire almost totally into an eccentric seclusion in his cork-lined bedroom to write À la recherche du temps perdu (in English: In Search of Lost Time or Remembrance of Things Past ). Published between 1913 and 1927, the vast seven-part novel is at once a kind of autobiography, a vast social panorama of France in the years just before and during World War I, and an immense meditation on love and jealousy and on art and its relation to reality. One of the supreme achievements in fiction of all time, it brought him worldwide fame and affected the entire climate of the 20th-century novel. Biography from Encyclopedia Britannica