On this date in 1871, Marcel Proust was born in Auteuil, near Paris. His father was a prominent physician and his mother was part of a prosperous Jewish family. Although plagued by chronic asthma and well-publicized neuroses, Marcel completed his one-year stint of military service and studied law. He met Anatole France, who became Marcel's patron for a time. Like many other French writers of his day, Proust was active in opposing the prosecution of Dreyfuss. When Proust's first book of short stories, essays and poetry was not a success, he turned to translating the works of art historian John Ruskin. He then devoted much of his remaining life to Remembrance of Things Past, his 7-volume masterpiece. This freethinking pioneer of the modern novel died of an asthma attack. D. 1922.
“The kind of fraud which consists in daring to proclaim the truth while mixing it with a large share of lies that falsify it, is more widespread than is generally thought.”
—Marcel Proust, Remembrance of Things Past (1913-26), cited in The Great Thoughts, edited by George Seldes
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