The 14-Minute Marcel Proust


In search of Proust

Marcel Proust: A Life (William Carter)

What's with Proust's biographers, that they can only write thousand-page tomes? This was a re-issue of Prof. Carter's "impeccably researched and well-paced narrative," to accompany the the Yale University Press launch of C. K. Scott Moncrieff's translations of In Search of Lost Time. I hugely enjoyed it, as I have enjoyed all of Carter's Proustiana -- by now, a library in its own right. I found it especially useful as a guide to sussing out the growth of Proust's novel. Available from in paperback, hardcover (many used and therefore inexpensive copies), and Kindle e-book editions.

Proust: The Search (Benjamin Taylor)

Well, here it is! In a mere 168 pages, Mr Taylor captures the essence of Proust, the Search, and the France of Dreyfus and Verdun. And he has a nice sense of humor. When the English novelist Sydney Schiff hurried to Proust's side to complain that Scott Moncrieff's titles were all wrong, Mr Taylor adds in parentheses: "The more one knows of Sydney Schiff, the more one dislikes him." I enjoyed every minute of this book, and I recommend it highly: At Amazon and elsewhere, in hardcover, paperback, and digital editions.

Proust in Love (William Carter)

One of the neatest ways to write about someone's life (or to read about a life, for that matter) is to concentrate on one aspect of it, and what neater aspect than his sex life? This is especially true of M and Mme Proust's little boy, who was about as randy a young man as any we know about. Proust wrote obsessively about homosexual love while presenting his narrator as standard issue, more or less, and while assuring his trusted contemporaries he was bisexual. Prof. Carter does a nice job of sorting this out. And isn't that a terrific cover? In hardcover, paperback, and Kindle editions. (The print editions seem to be available only through third-party vendors.)

Proust Among the Stars (Malcolm Bowie)

The Times Literary Supplement calls this "The best general study of Proust's 3,000-page work." I'm not so sure of that, but it does make for interesting though laborious reading. There are seven major essays, organized around the themes of Self, Time, Art, Politics, Morality, Sex, and Death (come to think] of it, we might say the same about our own lives!). Perhaps surprising, Time at 38 pages is one of the shorter essay. Available from in paperback, used hardcover, and Kindle editions (with the ebook very reasonably priced).

Proust: A Visual Companion Paintings in Proust: A Visual Companion to In Search of Lost Time (Eric Karpeles)

I keep this handsome book on the chair-side table while reading the the new Yale University Press translations of The Search. Even between books, it's a pleasant way to review The Search from a different perspective. (Swann's Way seems to be especially painter-rich, while The Fugitive looks to be especially thin.) Definitely a volume to add to your shelf of Proustiana. (Mr Karpeles is himself a painter and a scholar of Proust, having rescued a remarkable series of French-language lectures by a Polish prisoner of war from obscurity in Lost Time: Lost Time: Lectures on Proust in a Soviet Prison Camp.) The "visual companion" is available on in used hardcover and new paperback editions.

Tadie: Marcel Proust: A Life Marcel Proust: A Life (Jean-Yves Tadie)

Proustian in its size (the paperback weighs in at 2.5 pounds) and often in its prose, and requiring a Proustian commitment of time, this is without question the biography. I recommend it to anyone who has read and enjoyed the novel, or who like me is re-reading it. Especially after about page 500, it also serves as a field guide to In Search of Lost Time. Reading will go faster if you ignore most of the footnotes! I have the hardcover, which is now out of print; so is the paperback, but there are many and inexpensive copies available on

Marcel Proust's Search for Lost Time: A Reader's Guide to the Remembrance of Things Past (Patrick Alexander)

Unfortunately keyed to the obsolescent 1980s Vintage edition, as betrayed by its subtitle, this is nevertheless an excellent "field guide" to the novel. (It's very odd that Mr Alexander should have done this, given that his book was copyright in 2007, when both the Modern Library and the Penguin editions of The Search were already available.) I include it here because there is no other readily accessible book that does the same job. The paperback is available on Also available as a Kindle e-book.

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Flying Tigers

1. Swann's Way | 2. In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower | 3. The Guermantes Way | 4. Sodom and Gomorrah | 5. The Prisoner | 6. The Fugitive | 7. Finding Time Again

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Posted October 2019. © 2006-2019 Fallbook Press; all rights reserved.