Patrick's Reviews > Marcel Proust

Marcel Proust by Edmund White
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's review
Apr 20, 08

bookshelves: penguin-lives, proust-books
Recommended for: Diana, Chad, Fluffy, et al.
Read in April, 2008

I just listened to this book again, having found an audio CD copy at the Newport Beach library. Having read three quarters of Remembrance of Things Past at this point, and thus being familiar with all of the major characters in Proust's epic novel, I have a new appreciation for how good this short biography is. The author Edmund White makes much of how Proust disguised his friends and acquaintances as characters in his book, just as he also recreates experiences from his life (often absurd scenes, as depicted in this biography) as episodes in the novel. Re-reading the biography has given me a better appreciation for Proust and the novel, and has helped clarify some points I didn't understand very well, as well as some issues I had a negative reaction to, such as the anti-semitism and the gay-bashing at the start of Sodom and Gomorrah. This most significant idea I took away from this re-reading of the biography is that Remembrance of Things Past if one assume that all of the young female charcters that the narrator has a relationship or an interest in are actually young boys...otherwise, the narrator's behavior and descriptions won't make much sense. The other idea worth noting is that this biograpy, regrettably, can't be fully appreciated unless one has read all or most of Remembrance of Things Past, since throughout this biography the author Edmund White draws parallels between Proust's life and the novel. I have enjoyed this biography much more now that I have read most of the books in Proust's novel.

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