Proust: The Search

Yale Univ. (Jewish Lives). Oct. 2015. 224p. photos. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780300164169. $25. LIT
Marcel Proust (1871–1922), arguably one of the greatest French novelists of the 20th century, is best known for his epic In Search of Lost Time. Although numerous Proust biographies exist, Taylor (Naples Declared; The Book of Getting Even) makes an important contribution to the study of this complex individual. With this concise account, the author captures a "lost time," the "Belle époque" days of pre-World War I France, especially the Parisian society Proust frequented. This title highlights the writer's many loves, the deaths of his parents, and the publications of his works. It also provides a riveting summary of the rampant anti-Semitism found in late 19th-century France. Taylor offers excellent analysis of the Dreyfus affair and how it split French society. Although raised Catholic, Proust's mother was Jewish, and Taylor evocatively relates Proust's interactions with those who discriminated against Jewish people.
VERDICT A noteworthy biography of a great writer. This title will attract readers interested in French literature, civilization, and history.
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