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Marcel Proust: A Life Paperback – March 1, 2002
"My Father, the Pornographer" by Fang Lizhi
A son tries to understand his late father, by reading the 400-plus novels left to him in his father's will. Check out "My Father, the Pornographer".
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I had no idea how unusual Marcel Proust was; I only knew his work was a must read for anyone serious about literature. What I learned was Monsiour Proust lived his life as a total noncomformist. I found the stories that displayed his bizarre behavior completely endeared the man to me. He lived in torment yet lived his life in a singular fashion: was homosexual, was in the military during World War I, challenged someone to a duel, broke up with a boyfriend whom he can't bear to evict, the hypochondria, waking up in the late afternoon and going to bed in the morning, and the increasing drug use. Proust could be a very compassionate man - he tipped extravagantly, yet thought nothing of calling on an acquaintance at 3:00 a.m. with no previous warning.
Having read this book, I want to delve into The Great Work, and I know I won't be disappointed.
I read this at the same time as I read the first volume of proust. The result was perfect. I now feel almost on intimate terms with easily one of the richest, strangest, and most excellent prose writers in history. When I continue through the proust cycle, I have a sense of why, of context -- and that improves the experience (and possibly makes it possible -- I am not sure that I would appreciate or be able to grasp the fiction if I didn't have a bit more understanding of what kind of person wrote it and why. You have to admit, in the novels there are some lengthy spots in odette's drawing room or what have you ... to understand "the whole story" makes it more valuable to plow through.
The writer of this biography takes great strides to make the amazing story readable and colorful. The biography is NOT a chore to read, if you find the subject interesting. When I finished it, I was seriously, seriously moved. (hey, it was a hefty bio. long.)
A great biography, one of the very best I have read. This is helped by the fact that the subject was such a colorful, strange, phenomenon.