In The Captive, Proust's narrator describes living in his mother's Paris apartment with his lover, Albertine, and subsequently falling out of love with her. Proust was born in Auteuil (the southern sector of Paris's then-rustic 16th arrondissement) at the home of his great-uncle, two months after the Treaty of Frankfurt formally ended the Franco-Prussian War. His birth took place during the violence that surrounded the suppression of the Paris Commune, and his childhood corresponds with the consolidation of the French Third ...
In The Captive, Proust's narrator describes living in his mother's Paris apartment with his lover, Albertine, and subsequently falling out of love with her. Proust was born in Auteuil (the southern sector of Paris's then-rustic 16th arrondissement) at the home of his great-uncle, two months after the Treaty of Frankfurt formally ended the Franco-Prussian War. His birth took place during the violence that surrounded the suppression of the Paris Commune, and his childhood corresponds with the consolidation of the French Third Republic. Much of Remembrance of Things Past concerns the vast changes, most particularly the decline of the aristocracy and the rise of the middle classes, that occurred in France during the Third Republic and the fin de siecle. Proust's father, Achille Adrien Proust, was a famous doctor and epidemiologist, responsible for studying and attempting to remedy the causes and movements of cholera through Europe and Asia; he was the author of many articles and books on medicine and hygiene. Proust's mother, Jeanne Clemence Weil, was the daughter of a rich and cultured Jewish family. Her father was a banker. She was highly literate and well-read. Her letters demonstrate a well-developed sense of humour, and her command of English was sufficient for her to provide the necessary impetus to her son's later attempts to translate John Ruskin. By the age of nine, Proust had had his first serious asthma attack, and thereafter he was considered by himself, his family and his friends as a sickly child. Proust spent long holidays in the village of Illiers. This village, combined with aspects of the time he spent at his great-uncle's house in Auteuil became the model for the fictional town of Combray, where some of the most important scenes of Remembrance of Things Past take place. (Illiers was renamed Illiers-Combray on the occasion of the Proust centenary celebrations). Despite his poor health, Proust served a year (1889-90) as an enlisted man in the French army, stationed at Coligny Caserne in Orleans, an experience that provided a lengthy episode in The Guermantes Way, volume three of his novel. As a young man Proust was a dilettante and a successful social climber, whose aspirations as a writer were hampered by his lack of application to work. His reputation from this period, as a snob and an aesthete, contributed to his later troubles with getting Swann's Way, the first volume of his huge novel, published in 1913. Proust was quite close to his mother, despite her wishes that he apply himself to some sort of useful work. In order to appease his father, who insisted that he pursue a career, Proust obtained a volunteer position at the Bibliotheque Mazarine in the summer of 1896. After exerting considerable effort, he obtained a sick leave which was to extend for several years until he was considered to have resigned. He never worked at his job, and he did not move from his parents' apartment until after both were dead (Tadie). Proust, who was homosexual, was one of the first European writers to treat homosexuality at length. His life and family circle changed considerably between 1900 and 1905. In February 1903, Proust's brother Robert married and left the family apartment. His father died in September of the same year. Finally, and most crushingly, Proust's beloved mother died in September 1905. In addition to the grief that attended his mother's death, Proust's life changed due to a very large inheritance he received (in today's terms, a principal of about $6 million, with a monthly income of about $15,000). Despite this windfall, his health throughout this period continued to deteriorate. Proust spent the last three years of his life largely confined to his cork-lined bedroom, sleeping during the day and working at night to complete his novel. He died in 1922 and is buried in the Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris."
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