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Marcel Proust: A Life Paperback – March 1, 2002

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Editorial Reviews


"Magisterial." Iain Finlayson, The Times "Carter's biography offers an impeccably researched and well-paced narrative that brings vividly and credibly to life not only the writer himself but also the changing world he knew." Roger Pearson, New York Times Book Review "Serious, thoughtful, well-balanced, well-informed... Carter is the kind of reader Proust hoped for." Victor Brombert, Los Angeles Times Book Review "Rewarding... Every Proustian will be entertained by Carter." George Scialabba, Boston Sunday Globe

From the Publisher

Henry McBride Series in Modernism and Modernity

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Product Details

  • Series: Henry McBride Series in Modernism and Mo
  • Paperback: 1024 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (March 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300094000
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300094008
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #539,934 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Suzinne Barrett VINE VOICE on February 8, 2010
Format: Paperback
After seeing the reviews here on Amazon, I eagerly picked up this book. Having loved the French language and all things French, I became curious about the Belle Epoque and the life of Marcel Proust. But still, would I be able to wade through 800 pages? The answer is a resounding yes and with ease. The author, William C. Carter, does a wonderful job of getting inside the head of Monsieur Proust. Proust's papers, including his voluminous correspondence, had only recently become available and certainly paved the way for the author to explore the psychology behind the man.

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.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By eric on July 3, 2011
Format: Paperback
This is about a rich an experience that a biography can provide. And I say that from the perspective of someone that loves bios.

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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an incredibly rich biography, written in prose almost as smooth as that of its subject. I love the cover, too, of this paperback I got at a great price from Amazon. I don't know if the hardback has this replica of the famous portrait. It's the kind of book you hear about from a friend--in this case a friend of the author, William(Billy)Carter, and you want your own copy long before you finally get one. Your anticipation is well rewarded. We learn that Proust's whole family was distinguished, his mother's family cultivated and wise, his father handsome, sturdy, a doctor who taught a country the connection between the plagues of disease and the simple matter of keeping homes, streets, and water supplies sanitary. His brother, Robert, was an image of his father, while Marcel, frail, asthmatic, at times almost housebound, wrote often of how he wept inconsolably as a small boy, if his mother was not to come to kiss him goodnight. When I got the book I had hours to read in it, even to skip parts and peek at how Proust's life ended. My present time is distracted and distressed, but I realize that, as a writer of prose narrative myself, I can hew to the task daily--by reading pages of Proust, and pages of Carter's account to encourage me. Proust died as he had lived, editing pages of his writing to his exquisite standards and joy in whatever he observed--editing them in a bad light, on a little couch of a bed, and knowing, in any hardship or circumstance, exactly where to put the precious, vivid word, and where to cut the others.Read more ›
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