Marcel Proust

On this date in 1871, Marcel Proust, the freethinking pioneer of the moderan novel, was born in Auteuil, France, near Paris. His father, a Christian, was a prominent physician and his mother’s family was Jewish. Although plagued by chronic asthma and well-publicized neuroses, he completed his one-year stint of military service and studied law. He met Anatole France, who became his patron for a time.

Like many other French writers of his day, Proust was active in opposing the prosecution of Alfred Dreyfus. When his 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 seven-volume masterpiece. 

Proust’s sexuality and relationships with men are often discussed by his biographers. He died of an asthma attack at age 51 in 1922.

Freedom From Religion Foundation