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Madame Proust: A Biography

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Madame Proust: A Biography Cover

 

Review-A-Day

"It is crucial to get the cultural and social facts of Proust's Jewish background firmly in focus before making claims about how they might have affected his writing, and Evelyne Bloch-Dano's carefully researched biography of Jeanne Weil Proust performs this task admirably. I am obliged to add that it is one of those books that remains useful even though it is in many respects rather annoying and woefully deficient in critical perspective. Bloch-Dano is a writer accustomed to addressing a popular audience, and at times her book wobbles between being a scrupulously documented biography of Proust's mother and an instance of that familiar French genre, the vie romancée." Robert Alter, The New Republic (read the entire New Republic review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time opens with one of the most famous scenes in literature, as young Marcel, unable to fall asleep, waits anxiously for his mother to come to his bedroom and kiss him good night. Proust's own mother is central to the meaning of his masterpiece, and she has always held a special role in literary history, both as a character and as a decisive influence on the great writer's career. Without knowing much about her, we think of her as the quintessential writer's mother.

Now Evelyne Bloch-Dano's touching biography acquaints Proust fans with the real Jeanne Weil Proust. Written with the imaginative force of a novel, but firmly grounded in Jeanne and Marcel Proust's writings, Madame Proust skillfully captures the life and times of Proust's mother, from her German-Jewish background and her marriage to a Catholic grocer's son to her lifelong worries about her son's sexuality, health problems, and talent. As well as offering intimate glimpses of the Prousts' daily life, Madame Proust also uses the family as a way to explore the larger culture of fin-de-siécle France, including high society, spa culture, Jewish assimilation, and the Dreyfus affair. Throughout, Bloch-Dano offers sensitive readings of Proust's work, drawing out the countless interconnections between his mother, his life, and his magnum opus.

Those coming to In Search of Lost Time for the first time will find in Madame Proust a delightful primer on Marcel Proust's life and times. For those already steeped in the pleasures of Proust, this gem of a biography will give them a fresh understanding of the rich, fascinating background of the writer and his art.

Review:

"Evelyne Bloch-Dano's Madame Proust provides a wealth of new details about Marcel Proust's formative years and illustrates, as never before, the importance of his Jewish heritage. She does so by concentrating on the most important love relationship in Proust's life: the great affection he had for his mother. Carefully researched, richly documented, and skillfully translated by Alice Kaplan, this book deserves to be read by all who are interested in the life and works of Marcel Proust." William C. Carter, author of Marcel Proust: A Life

Review:

"Meticulously researched, Madame Proust offers a socio-cultural portrait of French and Jewish culture and how each intersected in Prousts lifetime. It not only explores Anti-Semitism, assimilation and naturalization of Jewish French Nationals, and the Dreyfus affair but also ably recreates the bourgeois milieu, familial and cultural context, and the physical layout of the Paris in which Marcel Proust lived....Bloch-Danos biography offers a sensitive, delicate evocation of the relationship Proust would describe as his lifes only purpose, its only sweetness, its only love, its only consolation. Madame Proust is a well-conceived and insightful tribute to a woman who lived quietly and whose ambitions and hopes centered fixedly on her familys well-being and her sons fulfillment." Aysha Somasundaram, Bookslut.com

Review:

"Using previously unknown documents, Evelyne Bloch-Dano has made a first-rate contribution to our understanding of Marcel Proust's mother, her Jewish ancestors and her family's social environment. Highly recommended." Jean-Yves Tadi‚, author of Marcel Proust: A Life

Review:

"It is one of the many merits of this admirable biography of Prousts mother that it invites one to return to the novel with perhaps a fuller understanding of Prousts heredity, hinterland, and upbringing....This fascinating book is full of interesting social and cultural observation....But it is essentially a study of one of the most remarkable and fruitful of mother-son relationships. As such it is a book that every Proustian will want to read." Allan Massie, Literary Review

About the Author

Evelyne Bloch-Dano is the author of many books, including a prize-winning biography of Emile Zola’s mother and, most recently, a novel, Le Biographe. Alice Kaplan is the author of, among other books, French Lessons, The Collaborator: The Trial and Execution of Robert Brasillach, and The Interpreter.

 

 

 

 

Table of Contents

Translators note

      

       Part One

1 A Daughter to Marry

2 Monsieur Proust and Mademoiselle Weil

3 Very French Israelites

4 At number 40 bis

5 Mother and Daughter

       Part Two

6 A Change of Regime

7 Mother and Son

8 Summers at Auteuil

9 The Goodnight Kiss

10 A Small World

11 Mistress of the House

12 The Sickly Child

13 Taking the Waters

14 A Model Couple

15 From Treble to Bass

16 A Woman of Forty

17 Vergiss mein nicht

        Part Three

18 A Woman in Black at the Beach

19 The Broken Glass

20 On Guard!

21 The Soul of Venice

22 Jeannes Address Book

23 A Wedding and a Funeral

24 La Vie à Deux

Epilogue

Acknowledgments

Appendixes

        1. Questionnaire Sent to the Jewish Elite in 1806

        2. Napoleon and the Central Consistory

 

Genealogical Charts

        The Weil Family

        The Berncastel Family

        Karl Marx and Marcel Proust

Notes

Bibliography

Index

Product Details

ISBN:
9780226056425
Author:
Bloch-dano, Evelyne
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Translator:
Kaplan, Alice
Author:
Bloch-Dano, Evelyne
Author:
Kaplan, Alice
Author:
Bloch-Dano, Evelyne E.
Subject:
French
Subject:
Novelists, French
Subject:
France
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
European - French
Subject:
Family
Subject:
Proust, Marcel - Family
Subject:
Proust, Jeanne Weill
Subject:
Biography-Literary
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Hardcover
Publication Date:
20071031
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
26 halftones, 5 line drawings
Pages:
272
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in

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Biography » Literary
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Madame Proust: A Biography New Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$27.50 In Stock
Product details 272 pages University of Chicago Press - English 9780226056425 Reviews:
"Review A Day" by , "It is crucial to get the cultural and social facts of Proust's Jewish background firmly in focus before making claims about how they might have affected his writing, and Evelyne Bloch-Dano's carefully researched biography of Jeanne Weil Proust performs this task admirably. I am obliged to add that it is one of those books that remains useful even though it is in many respects rather annoying and woefully deficient in critical perspective. Bloch-Dano is a writer accustomed to addressing a popular audience, and at times her book wobbles between being a scrupulously documented biography of Proust's mother and an instance of that familiar French genre, the vie romancée." (read the entire New Republic review)
"Review" by , "Evelyne Bloch-Dano's Madame Proust provides a wealth of new details about Marcel Proust's formative years and illustrates, as never before, the importance of his Jewish heritage. She does so by concentrating on the most important love relationship in Proust's life: the great affection he had for his mother. Carefully researched, richly documented, and skillfully translated by Alice Kaplan, this book deserves to be read by all who are interested in the life and works of Marcel Proust."
"Review" by , "Meticulously researched, Madame Proust offers a socio-cultural portrait of French and Jewish culture and how each intersected in Prousts lifetime. It not only explores Anti-Semitism, assimilation and naturalization of Jewish French Nationals, and the Dreyfus affair but also ably recreates the bourgeois milieu, familial and cultural context, and the physical layout of the Paris in which Marcel Proust lived....Bloch-Danos biography offers a sensitive, delicate evocation of the relationship Proust would describe as his lifes only purpose, its only sweetness, its only love, its only consolation. Madame Proust is a well-conceived and insightful tribute to a woman who lived quietly and whose ambitions and hopes centered fixedly on her familys well-being and her sons fulfillment."
"Review" by , "Using previously unknown documents, Evelyne Bloch-Dano has made a first-rate contribution to our understanding of Marcel Proust's mother, her Jewish ancestors and her family's social environment. Highly recommended."
"Review" by , "It is one of the many merits of this admirable biography of Prousts mother that it invites one to return to the novel with perhaps a fuller understanding of Prousts heredity, hinterland, and upbringing....This fascinating book is full of interesting social and cultural observation....But it is essentially a study of one of the most remarkable and fruitful of mother-son relationships. As such it is a book that every Proustian will want to read."
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