Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Funniest Man in Paris

In a trenchant peek at Proust, HiLowBrow muses on the extreme -- though often underappreciated -- humor of Marcel Proust.
During France’s Belle Époque, the decades before World War One that historian/Proustian Roger Shattuck calls “The Banquet Years,” Proust haunted both litterateurs and the nobility in their salons with his caustic wit and almond-eyed stare.
Not everyone got Proust’s humor, HiLowBrow warns, but the “books are still comic, though, in a Kierkegaardian sense, and rich in slapstick.”

Even slapstick, though, can be in the eyes of the beholder.
In Le temps retrouvé, on his way to a party, the narrator Marcel stumbles on uneven paving stones; his mind is flooded with involuntary memories of Venice, then with reverie on the nature of memory, and how this discovery unlocks the mystery of art.
The piece is not long, but it is thoughtful, and it’s here.

Valentin Louis Georges Eugène Marcel Proust was born 140 years ago this month. He died in November 1922, at age 51. He was best known for the novel À la recherche du temps perdu (In Search of Lost Time or Remembrance of Things Past) published in seven parts between 1913 and 1927.

Portrait of Marcel Proust by Jacques-Emile Blanche (1861-1942) oil on canvas Musée d’Orsay.


Post a Comment

<< Home