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Remembering Proust's legacy

Updated: Jun 23, 2021

The year 2021 marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of Marcel Proust (1871-1922). Nonetheless celebrated and much admired, specialists of his grand oeuvre, artists and writers have either tried to unravel the secrets of a mysterious man or have simply paid their tributes through novels, comics and movies.

Portraits of a young Marcel Proust and his parents by Paul Nadar


From his contemporaries such as photographer Nadar and pluri-disciplinary artist Jean Cocteau to a younger generation of writers and comic artists such as Phillipe Besson and Catherine Meurisse, Marcel Proust has long been admired and he still fascinates.

Delve into these various works to feel the author's everlasting presence:

Cartoon by Catherine Meurisse


The School of Life | Marcel Proust

Best known for his reflections on memory, time and relationships (love and family), let's rediscover his legacy with a short explanatory video by The School of Life.

La Comédie Française | Stéphane Varupenne lit Proust

To keep the actors and actresses of the Comédie Française active during the second lock-down, a special reading of 'In search of Lost Time' was organised. Like a mini-marathon, evening after evening, during several weeks, they've read out loud, one after the other, the mesmerizing words of a singular writer. This project also echoed the play staged by Christophe Honoré which could not be performed as planned at the chosen dates.

Watch the readings on Youtube

France Culture | Marcel Proust: portrait intime par Cocteau

Back in 1950, Jean Cocteau remembers his friend : a sensitive man wearing white gloves to avoid biting his nails, always hidden in a dark room covered in clouds of anti-asthma powder.

"Il ressemblait au capitaine Nemo et sa chambre ressemblait pas mal au Nautilus". Jean Cocteau

* Captain Nemo is a fictional character created by Jules Verne in the novel 'Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea'.


France Culture, La grande traversée | Céleste Albaret chez Monsieur Proust

In this episode, Marcel Proust's housekeeper, Céleste Albaret, talks about the last moments of the writer's life. More than a simple housekeeper, she assisted him in the drafting of his work and watched over him until his death in 1922.

Listen on France Culture

Céleste Albaret
Dix années, ce n'est pas si long. Mais c'était M. Proust, et ces dix années chez lui, avec lui, c'est toute une vie pour moi ; et je remercie le destin de me l'avoir donnée, parce que je n'aurais pu rêver d'une vie plus belle. Je ne me rendais pas compte à quel point. Je menais mon train-train, j'étais contente d'être là. Quand je le lui disais, il avait un petite œil scrutateur, à la fois taquin et gentil, et il répondait : voyons, chère Céleste, vivre tout le temps la nuit, ici, avec un malade, cela doit être bien triste ?

France Inter, Autant en emporte l'histoire | 1915. Une journée dans la vie de Marcel Proust avec Jean-Yves Tadié

The radio-fiction '1915, une journée dans la vie de Marcel Proust', written by Christine Spianti and performed by Clément Hervieu-Léger (Marcel Proust) and Claire de la Rüe du Can (Céleste Albaret) is based upon the relationship between Céleste and Marcel.

April 1915 in Paris. Europe has been at war for eight months, a war that is bogged down; no matter what the newspapers and their patriotic statements say. The atmosphere is strange in the capital: you no longer see young men in the streets; they are all at the front. All except one: this 43-year-old man, who was reformed due to his asthma and lives in his apartment at 102 boulevard Haussmann.

At night, as the sky lights up with anti-aircraft defense spotlights, Marcel Proust writes. He writes for hours, sitting in bed, lit by a small lamp with a green shade. The writer is a man in a hurry. Will he have time to complete his work, his "cathedral" as he calls it?

Listen on France Inter

France Culture, La compagnie des auteurs | Marcel Proust, premier mouvement

Marcel Proust and his friends

Why does Proust remain, nearly a century after his death, the pope of modern writers, the center of French literature? In this 4 episode series, radio host Matthieu Garrigou-Lagrange interrogates several specialists.

Listen on France Culture

BBC, In our time | Proust

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the life and work Marcel Proust whose novel 'À La Recherche du Temps Perdu', or 'In Search of Lost Time', has been called the definitive modern novel. His stylistic innovation, sensory exploration and fascination with memory were to influence a whole body of thinkers, from the German intellectuals of the 1930s to the Bloomsbury set, chief among them Virginia Woolf, and innumerable critics and novelists since. But how did he succeed in creating a 3000 page novel with such an artistic coherence? To what extent did John Ruskin influence Proust? Is his fascination with memory and recall simply a nostalgia for the past? And what impact did he have on the 20th century novel?

With Jacqueline Rose, Professor of English Literature at Queen Mary, University of London and author of 'Albertine'; Malcolm Bowie, Master of Christ’s College, Cambridge and author of 'Proust among the Stars'; Dr Robert Fraser, Senior Research Fellow in the Literature Department at the Open University and author of 'Proust and the Victorians'.

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