Friday, July 10, 2009

Today in Gay History

Happy 138th Birthday
MARCEL PROUST (1871-1922)
Premier French Novelist

Proust, who was himself homosexual, or as he termed it "inverted," was one of the first European novelists to treat homosexuality openly and at length. His major work, the epic novel À la recherche du temps perdu (later translated as A Remembrance of Things Past or In Search of Lost Time), was published in seven volumes. The work contains over 2000 literary characters, many of whom are homosexual or lesbian. It spans some 3200 pages.

Born to wealthy and educated parents in Paris at the end of the Franco-Prussian War, he was well educated and studied law and philosophy at the Sorbonne, receiving degrees in both fields. He lived with his parents until the age of 34, and never held any job outside of his writing. His life and family circle changed considerably between 1900 and 1905. His father died in November 1903 and his beloved mother died in September 1905. She left him a considerable inheritance. (In US dollars circa 2006, the principal amount was worth about $6 million, with a monthly income of about $15,000.) His health throughout this period continued to deteriorate.

He wrote the seven volumes of À la recherche du temps perdu commencing in 1910, and was still working on them when he died in 1922. The final 3 were pubished after his death.

Proust spent the last three years of his life mostly confined to his bedroom, sleeping during the day and working at night to complete his novel. He died of pneumonia and a pulmonary abscess in 1922.


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