Biography of French Novelist Marcel Proust Part 2
About the famous French writer Marcel Proust, biography and history of the author.
GALLERY OF PROMINENT PERFORMING AND CREATIVE ARTISTS
MARCEL PROUST (1871-1922)
After 1906 Proust no longer hid the fact that he was homosexual, or more accurately, bisexual, with a strong preference for young men. Having had several sexual affairs with women, at the age of 22 he entered his first homosexual affair with Reynaldo Hahn, a 19-year-old musician. The most prominent characteristics of this liaison and later homosexual relationships were Proust's jealousy and his need to dominate his lover. His most involved and intense relationship was with his secretary, Alfred Agostinelli. Oddly enough, Agostinelli, who was a sexual libertine, was not really a homosexual. He allowed Proust his sexual favors but he preferred sex with women. He also refused to be dominated by Proust, and his frequent affairs with women resulted in emotional anguish for the love-struck, jealous novelist. This strange affair finally ended when Agostinelli took up flying and was killed in a plane crash. Proust used Agostinelli as the model for his female character Albertine, who provokes her male lover's jealousy by making love to other women.
For the last ten years of his life Proust refined Remembrance, publishing a volume of the serialized novel every few years. During this time Proust became increasingly eccentric. He was highly sensitive to sound, as well as to smells, and insulated his fumigated apartment with cork walls. He worked during the late night hours and went to bed around eight in the morning, sleeping fully clothed, often with gloves on. He helped finance a homosexual brothel, where he went to watch customers being whipped. Yet, even though he was blatant about his string of male lovers, he fought a pistol duel (it resulted in no injuries) with a critic who dared to publish a few snide remarks about his sexual exploits. Despite his homosexuality, Proust had an affair with the beautiful actress Louisa de Mornand, who was also the mistress of one of his friends.
As the years passed, Proust's health deteriorated. On Nov. 18, 1922, at the age of 51, he succumbed to pneumonia. The last volumes of Remembrance were published after Proust's death. They served to confirm his literary reputation and to elaborate his philosophy of life--a philosophy that argued the emptiness of life and relationships and the shallowness and vanity of the individual, yet optimistically recorded that people could raise themselves to moments of joy and moral glory. For Proust, Remembrance was a study in self-enlightenment and self-realization. It was his effort to bring from his subconscious the reality he believed was buried beneath the daily routines and habits of life.
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