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Marcel Proust Hardcover – August 7, 2000
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In Marcel Proust: A Life, French critic Jean-Yves Tadie surveys these approaches from the lofty perspective of 40 years of Proust scholarship, and he chooses all--or perhaps none. For Tadie is concerned not with Proust the man but with Proust the novelist. "The true biography of a writer or an artist is that of his work," he proclaims, and goes on to present the development of Proust's life and his novel side by side, considering real-life people and events alongside the fictional representations they inspired. Thankfully, though impressively learned, Tadie is not what we would call an "academic" biographer: his prose is far too elegant and even witty for that, and he actually seems to be enjoying himself. (In cataloging the items sold by Proust's uncle's firm, for example, Tadie exclaims with contagious glee, "Is it not like reading a novel by Balzac, or the wedding announcement chapter in Albertine disparue?") Weighing in at a very Proustian 986 pages--it would make almost as good a murder weapon as Remembrance of Things Past--Tadie's work is a biography of mind-boggling thoroughness, and yet every detail strikes the reader as necessary. Suitably, this definitive work ends with a touching account of Proust's death, as the great writer dictates his masterwork until he is no longer capable of speech. Who could ask more of a biographer than Tadie's gentle and affectionate epitaph? "And we too address our respects to a man who suffered so much in order that his work should shine like the sun, now that it causes him no more harm." --Mary Park
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
Two years ago I started reading Proust again. This time I made the breakthrough and was hooked. I am now about two-thirds of the way back to the beginning, somewhere in the middle of Sodom and Gomorrah (volume 4 of 7 in the Modern Library edition). One of the things to know about reading Proust is that once you have been acclimated to the Narrator and his style, resuming the novel is like receiving a telephone call from an old friend. In a page or two it's just like old times.
Shortly, thereafter I read Edmund White's Penguin Life (1999). In his excellent bibliography, he calls Tadie's book the "best biography ever written of Proust". He also notes that at first he "seriously underestimated its worth, since it lacks narrative sweep and humor value and sometimes looks like random notes". I eagerly awaited the English translation.
Meanwhile I began reading Painter and when the Carter book came out started that too. Painter's book reads like a novel.Read more ›
Jean-Yves Tadie's biography "Marcel Proust - a Life" provides the answer. So much of Proust's personal experience, and that of his acquaintances in French high society, are to be found in "A la recherche" that you cannot fully understand Proust's work without understanding Proust's life. And an everyday biography chronicling where Proust went, what he did, and who he met, would not be sufficient. What is required is a biography which explains how Proust developed his philosophy; why the aesethic experience was so vital, and sometimes so overwhelming for him; what is was that drew him to associate with the French nobility; and most importantly, what role love played in his life. Proust, after all, is the 20th century's pre-eminent chronicler of love's passion, and its destruction through jealousy.
Tadie's biography satisfies these requirements, in a way that perhaps only a French author could do.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This biography offers incredible insight into not only the life but the work of this astonishing author. Read morePublished on August 31, 2000
A Big Disappointment
I second the comments of another reviewer of this book, Kirk McElhearn. Tadié is the editor general of the "definitive" French... Read more