“This gemlike exploration of the literary underpinnings of À la Recherche Du Temps Perdu reveals a Marcel Proust who did not so much read books as ‘absorb’ them.”—THE NEW YORKER
“With Monsieur Proust’s Library, Anka Muhlstein has added another volume to the collection of splendid books about Proust. A woman of intellectual refinement, subtle understanding and deep literary culture…Ms. Muhlstein is an excellent provisioner of high-quality intellectual goods.”—THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
“[Muhlstein] here turns her attention to Proust’s enthusiasms, antagonisms, and literary influences…sensitive to nuances of style and echoes of older standard French authors.”—Edmund White, NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS
“A...stimulating study that should deepen readers' appreciation of Proust and draw them back to the original ‘underpinning.’”—KIRKUS REVIEWS
“The general madeleine enthusiast is bound to be entertained by Muhlstein’s witty and lucid prose…This tome energetically explores the distinct literary tastes of a modern writing genius.”—
"The author of Balzac’s Omelette offers another sensual appreciation of a classic author, this time submitting to the books that Proust loved…You don’t absolutely need to know In Search of Lost Time to read Muhlstein’s brisk little volume, a mini-biography that dissects the many literary influences of [Proust].”—THE DAILY BEAST, ‘Hot Read’ Pick
engaging little volume looks at the writers and literary works that
influenced Marcel Proust, a passionate reader whose characters often
appear book-in-hand. A helpful introduction to À la recherche du temps perdu,
this new work reveals the ways in which Proust’s favorite
writers—Saint-Simon, Racine, Mme de Sévigné, Balzac, Baudelaire,
Dostoyevsky—inform his magnum opus.” —FRANCE MAGAZINE
“[Muhlstein] is thoroughly versed not only in Proust’s life but also in his work…This biography is an easy and interesting read, even for the novice Proust scholar, and an excellent accompaniment to an In Search of Lost Time (re)read.”—San Francisco Book Review
“Muhlstein has ideas of her own about the way in which Proust not only dealt with the anxieties of influence but also brought to a head a long and rich tradition—something one can scarcely imagine a writer doing today.”—GAY & LESBIAN REVIEW
“Anka Muhlstein’s Monsieur Proust’s Library, which looks at In Search of Lost Time by way of the books that Proust himself read and the way they influenced both the book and its characters, has become a permanent addition to my Proust library, and is a must read both for Proustians and want-to-be Proustians alike…It’s a marvelous book.” —PUBLISHING PERSPECTIVES
“Muhlstein shows admirable restraint, focusing on select topics to contextualize Proust’s work in an accessible way…It’s a quick read, and the tight focus and brisk, topical chapters offer an entrée to a work that is not always easy to penetrate.” —THE COFFIN FACTORY
ABOUT MONSIEUR PROUST’S LIBRARY:
Reading was so important to Marcel Proust that it sometimes seems he was unable to create a fictional personage without placing a book in hand. Two hundred of his creatures inhabit his fictional world, and sixty writers hover over them. These writers—among them various classical authors of the seventeenth century such as Mme de Sévigné the letter-writer, Racine the playwright, Saint-Simon the memoirist, and novelists and poets of the nineteenth century, including Balzac, Baudelaire and Dostoevsky—are not there for show; their works play an active role in the construction of In Search of Lost Time.
The passion Proust felt for his books and their authors was abundantly present in his relationships with friends and family, and the emotional strength he drew from these relationships funneled back into the works he produced. At a time Proust felt obliged to conceal his sexual tastes, armed with his reading of the classics, buoyed by the example of Balzac, he created the greatest and the most complex homosexual characters of contemporary literature.
In this wonderful, beautifully illustrated book, scholar and biographer Anka Muhlstein, the author of Balzac’s Omelette, provides an indispensable introduction to Proust’s long and intricate novel.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
PHOTO CREDIT: Bettina Strauss
Born in Paris in 1935, Anka Muhlstein has published biographies of Queen Victoria, James de Rothschild, Cavelier de La Salle, and Astolphe de Custine; studies on Catherine de Médicis, Marie de Médicis, and Anne of Austria; a double biography, Elizabeth I and Mary Stuart; and most recently, Balzac’s Omelette (Other Press).
She has won two prizes from the Académie Française and the Goncourt Prize for Biography.
She and her husband, Louis Begley, have
written a book on Venice, Venice for Lovers. They live in New York City.