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-siècle 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.
“Proust's relationship with his mother, like much else to do with this greatest of all novelists, was exceptional. . . . .Bloch-Dano’s admirable biography paints a vivid portrait of a sensitive, cultured, sometimes sharp woman. . . . Bloch-Dano confidently charts the rituals of the Parisian haute bourgeoisie which Madame Proust, as the wife of an eminent professor of medicine, observed, along with her part in the genesis of one of the glories of world literature.”--Angus Trumble, Independent
“A vivid, if highly impressionistic, account of the life of Jeanne Weil Proust, a woman who outwardly lived the life of a typical Jewish bourgeoise of the Third Republic, but who succeeded in raising France’s unlikeliest literary giant. . . . Madame Proust tempts us to read the big book in a new way: as the most fulsome possible answer to a mother’s wish to know what occupied her son.”
"Serious readers of Marcel Proust are aware of how close the writer was to his mother. Now, through Bloch-Dano's touching biography of Jeanne Weil Proust, translated by National Book Award nominee Kaplan, his many fans can better understand that closeness. . . . Bloch-Dano's splendid book offers great insight into this loving pair and illustrates Jeanne's influence on her son as a writer. Highly recommended to those interested in Proust and 20th-century French literature."
“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
“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 Tadié, author of Marcel Proust: A Life
“If the wealthy Weils hadn't married off their daughter Jeanne to Dr. Adrien Proust in 1870, our sense of the past would be very different. Jeanne's story, seen here—inevitably—through the scrim of her son’s immortal evocation of lost time, evokes the richly upholstered interiors of Paris in the late nineteenth century.”