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Marcel Proust

1871 Auteuil (Paris)
1922 Paris

The French novelist, critic, and intellectual Marcel Proust was born on 10th July 1871 in Auteuil, in Paris, the son of a wealthy doctor. In 1882, he attended the Lycée Condorcet, where he met Jacques Bizet, Daniel Halévy, and Robert Dreyfus.
In 1882, Marcel Proust began his first forays into writing, composing articles for school journals, and visiting Mme. Émile Strauss und Mme. Arman de Caillavet’s salons. In 1889, he volunteered for the army and was stationed in Orléans, where he met Robert de Billy. In 1890, after completing his military service, Marcel Proust enrolled as a law student, but failed to take his exams. In 1892, the novelist founded the journal "La Banquet". During the following year, Proust met the French novelist, symbolist and art collector Robert de Montesquiou (1855–1921), and in 1894, the composer Reynaldo Hahn (1874–1947). In 1895, he took an unpaid position at the Bibithèque Mazarin and obtained his "License des Lettres". He also began working on "Jean Santeuil", a project for a novel which remained uncompleted.
In 1896, Marcel Proust published his first book, "Les plaisirs et les jours". He later translated "The Bible of Amiens" by English novelist and art historian John Ruskin (1819–1900), together with Marie Nordlinger. Proust was influenced by Ruskin’s passionate enthusiasm for art.
In 1900, Marcel Proust wrote Ruskin’s obituary in the "Mercure". During summer of the same year, Proust travelled to Venice, Flanders, and Holland. In 1913, Proust financed Grasset’s publication of the first part of his main work, the fictional autobiography "Á la recherche du temps perdu", entitled "Du côte de chez Swann". In the following year, the sudden death of Proust’s life-long partner Alfred Agostinelli (1888–1914), sent the novelist into a deep depression. In 1916, Marcel Proust gained the support of Gallimard Publishers, and the "Nouvelle Revue Français" for his novel project, and in 1918, they published the second part of the book under the title "À l’ombre des jeunes fills en fleurs".
In 1919, Proust was awarded the highest French literary prize, the "Prix Goncourt", and in the following year, he was made a knight of the Legion d’honneur. Between 1920 and 1924, four further chapters of the book - "Du côte de Guermantes I", "Du côte de Guermantes II", "Sodom et Gomorrhe I" and "Sodom et Gomorrhe II" - were published.
In May 1921, Marcel Proust experienced a dizzy spell whilst visiting an exhibition. Shortly before his death, he began corresponding with the German literary critic Ernst Robert Curtius (1886–1956), who was one of the first people to recognise Proust’s profound position within modern literature.
Marcel Proust died in Paris on 18th November 1922.

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