A hundred years without Proust

On November 18 will be celebrated the hundredth anniversary of the death of Marcel Proust, who straddled the XIXe and the XXe century. Since the beginning of the year, his native France has been wearing the famous cloak of the disappeared – exhibited at the Carnavalet museum – with editions or re-editions of works devoted to his work and various tributes. This does not prevent readers from recoiling in horror. Many abdicate before In Search of Lost Timedefeated in the era of tweet (which takes water under Elon Musk) faced with such a sum of words. Mistake ! Because hat-tricks are one thing. Reading his books remains the real adventure to undertake to salute his memory.

It is no coincidence that, over the years, the brilliant writer ended up establishing himself as the highest beacon of national literature in the land of Balzac and Montaigne. His work is a summit.

And how not to seize the opportunity to tip my hat to my favorite author, he who has been a star in the night since my adolescence? His mirror of the human psyche, his inimitable sinuous style, his culture, his intelligence are, in my eyes as in those of his many admirers, of unequaled luminosity. We either love or hate Proust fervently. I like.

Thanks to him for having accompanied my journey. Often, passing through Paris, I place chrysanthemums on his grave in the Père-Lachaise cemetery, and the banal black stone that shelters him seems to me each time less up to the height of the remains of his host. But I recite to him in situ fragments of his prose that the wind carries away who knows where.

At the end of the week, homage is paid in Quebec to the great French writer. Go ahead from me. I am at the Marrakech International Film Festival and miss this appointment that I had sworn to honor. Saturday, at 2 p.m., at the Pierre Lassonde pavilion of the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, former Prime Minister Lucien Bouchard, an accomplished Proustian, will discuss his passion with Stéphan Bureau. The play Inside Proust’s head by Sylvie Moreau, a huge fan too, will follow on the menu. Sunday morning, professors and writers will present conferences on the subject at the Palais Montcalm. And Les Violons du Roy will close the event there in the afternoon with the concert About the sonata from Vinteuil. Developed by Laurent Patenaude and presented by Robert Lepage, it will recreate, under the notes of contemporary composers of the author, the atmosphere of the salons of the Parisian Belle Époque, in the heart of the Proustian cathedral.

Many Quebecers assume that readingIn Search of Lost Time is reserved for minds wiser than them. This ignores the extent to which Proust’s humor remains acute and irresistible. Moreover, I recommend to newcomers to start with the part “A love of Swann”, particularly funny and sharp, in the heart of the first volume, On the Swann side, then to start again, once familiar with its universe. It is true, however, that introspective temperaments find their bearings in him more than people of action. The Research belongs to the spirits who relish frequenting the depths.

I will have, during my life, in addition to many dives in the Researchread biographies and essays on Proust, pored over his (often disappointing) correspondence, visited the house-museum of his aunt Léonie in Illiers-Combray, part of the first volume, savored his early work John Santeuil (too discredited), attended shows dedicated to him, saw the films adapted from the Research — that of Raoul Ruiz, Recovered time, is admirable — nothing to do! The secret of the genius of this tall, asthmatic, neurotic bourgeois, long bedridden, obsessed with a declining aristocracy, unfolded constantly. How could he bequeath on his bed from his crossed-out manuscripts, pasted with “paperoles” for the additions, such a masterful creation? We swim in full mystery. He rightly considered the writer inferior to his work. His life, which could have been quite different, served as a canvas for him to dissect the human soul, without sparing himself, with unfailing lucidity and an unhappiness of living immolated on the altar of literature.

In 1997, I had written a text for the 75e anniversary of his death ending with an extract from the Researche bearing on the death of the writer Bergotte, his alter ego, taking him up today. To him, the last word! “They buried him, but all through the funeral night, in the lighted windows, his books, arranged three by three, watched like angels with outstretched wings, and seemed, for him who was no longer, the symbol of his resurrection. »

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A hundred years without Proust

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