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Proust in Love

Proust in Love

Copyright Date: 2006
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 280
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  • Book Info
    Proust in Love
    Book Description:

    The acclaimed Proust biographer William C. Carter portrays Proust's amorous adventures and misadventures from adolescence through his adult years, supplying where appropriate Proust's own sensitive, intelligent, and often disillusioned observations about love and sexuality. Proust is revealed as a man agonizingly caught between the constant fear of public exposure as a homosexual and the need to find and express love. In telling the story of Proust in love, Carter also shows how the author's experiences became major themes in his novelIn Search of Lost Time.Carter discusses Proust's adolescent sexual experiences, his disastrous brothel visit to cure homosexual inclinations, and his first great loves. He also addresses the duel Proust fought after the journalist Jean Lorrain alluded to his homosexuality in print, his flirtations with respectable women and high-class prostitutes, and his affairs with young men of the servant class. With new revelations about Proust's love life and a gallery of photographs, the book provides an unprecedented glimpse of Proust's gay Paris.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-13488-9
    Subjects: History, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xi-xii)

    Proust in Loveportrays the novelist Marcel Proust’s amorous adventures—and misadventures—from his adolescence through his adult years, applying, where appropriate, his own sensitive, intelligent observations about love and sexuality, which are often disillusioned and at times highly amusing. These observations are drawn from his correspondence, his novelIn Search of Lost Time,and his other writings.

    Proust’s achievement is unique in a number of ways. Widely recognized as one of the world’s great novelists, he wrote only one novel, but one of vast proportions, consisting of seven principal parts whose English titles areSwann’s Way, Within a Budding...

  5. Abbreviations of Titles of Proust’s Works
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  6. CHAPTER ONE Promiscuous Proust
    (pp. 1-16)

    Marcel Proust attended high school at the lycée Condorcet from 1882 to 1889. Among his “intimate circle” of classmates were an astonishing number of future writers. Daniel Halévy wrote biographies of Friedrich Nietzsche, Jules Michelet, and Sébastien Vauban; Louis de La Salle, who died young, published a volume of poetry and a novel; Robert Dreyfus became an important historian of the Third Republic. Two other high school friends, the poet Fernand Gregh and the playwright Robert de Flers, were elected to the Académie Française, an honor not bestowed upon Proust, whose belated achievement as a novelist was to eclipse those...

  7. CHAPTER TWO Mighty Hermaphrodite
    (pp. 17-30)

    Proust’s youthful role-playing of a boy-girl or whore sitting seductively in the laps of his male friends gave him an early understanding of what it is to be an androgynous being. He routinely looked for feminine traits among his male friends and their male relatives, and for masculine traits among his female friends and their relatives, in search of the types that were to become the men-women or women-men of his novel. When Proust wrote to the actress Louisa de Mornand to express his condolences for the death of her eighteen-year-old brother, Ernest, killed during the war, he recalled having...

  8. CHAPTER THREE My Heart Beats Only for You
    (pp. 31-46)

    On October 29, 1895, Proust’s short story “The Death of Baldassare Silvande, Viscount of Sylvania” appeared in theRevue hebdomadaire.Proust received 150 francs for the piece, apparently the first money he had earned as a writer. He had dedicated the story “To Reynaldo Hahn, poet, singer, and musician.”¹ Hahn thanked Proust for the honor and received this reply: “I would like to be the master of all that you desire on earth in order to bring it to you—the author of all you admire in art in order to dedicate it to you. I’m beginning in a very...

  9. CHAPTER FOUR Jalousie
    (pp. 47-68)

    It was through Hahn that Proust met Lucien Daudet, who soon became the object of his attention. Only sixteen, Daudet had delicate features, a fine olive complexion, and soft dreamy eyes. He was a pretty boy whose sexual nature was apparent, but his family, conservative and devoutly Catholic, chose to ignore the implications of his androgynous beauty and effeminate manners. Like Proust, Daudet had certain neurotic tendencies and was often moody and temperamental. Theirs was not a match one could expect to last.

    Daudet had ambitions to be a painter and was enrolled at the prestigious Académie Julian on the...

  10. CHAPTER FIVE A Nun of Speed
    (pp. 69-78)

    On August 5, 1970, Proust left Paris for the seaside resort of Cabourg, a trip that marked a rebirth for him after two years of intense grief and illness following his mother’s death. A month before his arrival, Cabourg had inaugurated the large and sumptuous Grand-Hôtel, one of the most modern on the Normandy coast. The new amenities included a service offering chauffeured cars for hire. Jacques Bizet, now a medical school dropout, served as the director of one of the first carrental agencies, Taximètres Unic, which made automobiles available to vacationers in Cabourg in the summer and in Monaco...

  11. CHAPTER SIX Where Fair Strangers Abound
    (pp. 79-111)

    During the 1908–9 summer vacations, Proust became friends with young men whose middle-class families owned or rented villas in or near Cabourg. Among those he met were two engineers, Pierre Parent and Max Daireaux, both in their mid-twenties. He entered Parent’s name several times in his notebook, jotting down traits or dialogue eventually used for certain aspects of his fictional Saint-Loup and Albertine.¹ Since Proust viewed most individuals as androgynous, he had no hesitation in distributing traits from the young men between his male and female characters, especially these two, whose sexuality is ambiguous. Daireaux, twenty-four, was the younger...

  12. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  13. CHAPTER SEVEN Lovesick
    (pp. 112-122)

    In the spring of 1913 Alfred Agostinelli, at the age of twenty-five, fell on hard times and appealed to Proust for work. Since the novelist had already engaged Odilon Albaret as his regular driver, he offered Agostinelli the position of secretary, albeit with reservations about his qualifications, to aid in preparing the typescript ofSwann’s Way:“I suggested [to Agostinelli] without much confidence, that he might type my book. It was then that I discovered him, and he and his wife [Anna] became an integral part of my life.”¹

    Agostinelli, whose resourcefulness and intelligence Proust had noticed on earlier occasions,...

  14. CHAPTER EIGHT Grieving and Forgetting
    (pp. 123-138)

    In the late fall of 1913 the relationship between Proust and Agostinelli finally reached the breaking point, but, not surprisingly, it was Agostinelli who made the decisive move. On December 1, Alfred and Anna fled 102 boulevard Haussmann and headed for Monte Carlo, where Agostinelli’s father, Eugène, lived.¹ Céleste Albaret believed that Anna was largely responsible for the sudden departure of the Agostinellis because she did not like living in Paris and was eager to return to the Riviera.

    Distressed and angry, Proust appealed immediately to Nahmias for help, sending him a letter containing a “strange question.” Had he ever...

  15. CHAPTER NINE The Night Prowler
    (pp. 139-158)

    By 1917 Proust had come to depend on two primary sources of information for which he paid. Each informant was a specialist, highly knowledgeable in his own domain: Olivier Dabescat and Albert Le Cuziat. Dabescat, as the maître d’hôtel of the Ritz, served the world’s wealthy elite; Le Cuziat operated the Ballon d’Alsace, a male brothel and Turkish bath for men who wished to remain anonymous. Some of these men, like Proust, were clients of both Dabescat and Le Cuziat. Proust used the brothel to spy on its habitués and to obtain information for his novel. Le Cuziat’s tenure as...

  16. CHAPTER TEN The Boys from the Ritz
    (pp. 159-183)

    By the middle of 1918, the last summer of World War I, Proust had a compelling reason for wanting to remain in Paris in spite of an anticipated final German offensive, with the conquest of Paris as its objective. He had met at the Ritz Hotel a young waiter named Henri Rochat, who had captivated him. We know about his attraction to young waiters, and how he recruited them to serve him, from an interview given many years after Proust’s death by Camille Wixler, who had been a waiter at the Ritz during the war.¹ Swiss like Rochat, Wixler, who...

  17. CHAPTER ELEVEN Love Is Divine
    (pp. 184-204)

    As Proust began transposing the experiences of his love affairs and infatuations into the novel, he found inspiration in the recently published letters of Alfred de Musset, who had been his favorite poet during adolescence.¹ Of Musset’s tempestuous love affairs, the most famous with George Sand, Proust observed that his “loves survive only because he had made them the matter of his poems.” At first, Proust found the writing difficult, apparently because he had not yet conceived the plot and structure of his work, but he had long known the essence of what he wanted to convey: “Everything [I am...

  18. Notes
    (pp. 205-244)
  19. Index
    (pp. 245-252)