Monsieur Proust

Overview

Céleste Albaret was Marcel Proust's housekeeper in his last years, when he retreated from the world to devote himself to In Search of Lost Time. She could imitate his voice to perfection, and Proust himself said to her, "You know everything about me." Her reminiscences of her employer present an intimate picture of the daily life of a great writer who was also a deeply peculiar man, while Madame Albaret herself proves to be a shrewd and engaging companion.

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Overview

Céleste Albaret was Marcel Proust's housekeeper in his last years, when he retreated from the world to devote himself to In Search of Lost Time. She could imitate his voice to perfection, and Proust himself said to her, "You know everything about me." Her reminiscences of her employer present an intimate picture of the daily life of a great writer who was also a deeply peculiar man, while Madame Albaret herself proves to be a shrewd and engaging companion.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Published in 1973, Monsieur Proust is a remarkable evocation of the spiritual sacrifices and flashes of grace that inform genius and those who serve it." — Hilton Als, The New Yorker

"the housekeeper’s indispensable 1973 memoir" — Benjamin Strong, The Village Voice

"A fond and winning picture of the daily life of a great writer and reclusive man, with his foibles, worries and kindnesses. This alluring volume is as close as we can come to meeting Marcel Proust in person." — Sunday Telegraph

"Monsieur Proust
is moving, often unwittingly funny, [and it conveys] something of the fabulous quality of an existence literally held in thrall by Proust. The book is rich in concrete and, one feels, authentic details that give an unprecedented and entertaining picture of Proust’s daily life." — Germaine Brée, The New Republic

"…[a ] marvelous and compelling document…" — Claire Messud, New York Newsday

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590170595
  • Publisher: New York Review Books
  • Publication date: 9/28/2003
  • Series: New York Review Books Classics Series
  • Pages: 456
  • Sales rank: 596,404
  • Product dimensions: 4.97 (w) x 7.99 (h) x 1.02 (d)

Meet the Author

Céleste Albaret (1892-1984) was born into a peasant family in the mountainous region of Lozère, France. In 1913, she married Odilon Albaret, a Parisian chauffeur, whose clients included Marcel Proust. Odilon suggested that his new wife, who was lonely in the big city and at a loss for something to do, run errands for Proust, and before long Céleste found herself employed as the writer’s full-time (indeed round-the-clock) housekeeper, secretary, and nurse, filling those roles until his death in 1922. In later years, Céleste ran a small hotel in Paris with her husband and daughter, and after Odilon’s death in 1960, she became the caretaker of the Musée Ravel in the town of Montfort l’Amaury. Monsieur Proust was published in 1972. In recognition of her decade-long service to Proust, Céleste Albaret was made a commander of the French Order of Arts and Letters. She died of emphysema at the age of 92.

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Table of Contents

Foreword vii
Introduction xv
1. A Grand Seigneur 1
2. A Cloud of Smoke 9
3. And Then the War 19
4. The Last Trip to Cabourg 27
5. The Life of a Recluse 39
6. Retreat into Illness 51
7. An Appetite for Memories 69
8. An Extreme Modesty 81
9. The Dark Nights of Paris 91
10. Your Mother Is Dead 105
11. His Evenings Out 117
12. His Love for His Mother 131
13. The Camellia Period 145
14. The Family 161
15. First Loves 173
16. "Other" Loves 185
17. Politics 199
18. Tyrannical and Suspicious 209
19. Friends but No Friendship 223
20. The Pursuit of Characters 239
21. Monsieur de Charlus 255
22. "I've Worked Well, Celeste." 267
23. The Rejection 281
24. The Fake Monk 293
25. Fame 301
26. Uprooted 315
27. The Poulet Quartet 327
28. "The End" 333
29. Time Stops 343
Epilogue 363
Appendix Some Other Souvenirs 367
Index 379
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