Chronology of Proust's Life
  • 1871: The siege of Paris by the Prussians had begun in September of 1870 and was followed by the Paris Commune, which was bloodily repressed in May of 1871. Mme Proust had left the city to escape the turbulence, and at her uncle's home in the Paris suburb of Auteuil gave birth to Marcel Proust on July 10, 1871.
  • 1873: Robert Proust, brother of Marcel, is born in Auteuil on May 24.
  • 1882: Enters the Lycée Condorcet (known until 1883 as the Lycée Fontanes).
  • 1886: Responds to the first "Proust Questionnaire."
  • 1887-88: Collaborates with schoolmates to publish a series of literary and artistic reviews: Le Lundi, the Revue verte, and the Revue lilas.
  • 1889: In November, enlists for a year of military service, and is stationed in the city of Orléans.
  • 1890: Enrolls in the Faculté de droit and the École libre des sciences politiques in a course of study for future French diplomats. Begins writing and editing for Le Mensuel, a resumé of the preceding month's social and political events. Responds to the second "Proust Questionnaire."
  • 1892: Collaborates with former schoolmates from the Lycée Condorcet to publish Le Banquet.
  • 1893: Publishes stories in the literary and artistic journal the Revue blanche. Many of these will later be collected in Les plaisirs et les jours. Pressed by his father to decide on a career, he chooses to study to become a librarian.
  • 1895: Begins working on the episodic, unfinished novel that his posthumous editors will name Jean Santeuil.
  • 1896: Calmann-Lévy publishes Les plaisirs et les jours in June. It has a preface by Anatole France, and while well-reviewed by some, is largely considered a volume of purple-prose by a society dilettante. In July the Revue blanche publishes "Contre l'obscurité," an essay in which Proust criticizes the Symbolist movement.
  • 1897: Discovers the writings of John Ruskin.
  • 1898: The Dreyfus affair escalates. Proust writes: "I was the first dreyfusard."
  • 1899: Gradually abandons working on Jean Santeuil and begins a concentrated study of the works of Ruskin. Begins translating Ruskin's The Bible of Amiens.
  • 1900: Continues to work on Ruskin. Travels to Venice twice.
  • 1903: Robert Proust marries Marthe Dubois-Amiot. La Bible d'Amiens is published. Proust's father dies of a cerebral hemorrhage on November 24.
  • 1904: Begins work on translating Ruskin's Sesame and Lilies.
  • 1905: Publishes his preface to Sésame et les lys, "Sur la lecture." This essay, one of Proust's most important, announces his mature voice as a writer. His mother dies on September 26 of nephritis.
  • 1906: Sésame et les lys is published.
  • 1907: After a friend of the family, Henri van Blarenberghe, kills his own mother, Proust writes an apologia for the murder, "Sentiments filiaux d'un parricide." Begins outlining what will be known as Contre Saint-Beuve.
  • 1908: Begins writing a series of pastiches for the Figaro
  • 1909: Contre Saint-Beuve, a hybrid work that is essay, autobiography, and fiction, solidifies into the first versions of "Combray" and Time Regained.
  • 1910-11: The principle sections of Swann are developed and Proust revises material to be found in Time Regained. Proust envisions the novel as two volumes: Time Lost and Time Regained.
  • 1912: Extracts from Swann are published in the Figaro. Proust now envisions the novel as three volumes. The tentative title for the second volume, A l'ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs, is quickly forgotten and replaced by the Côté de Guermantes. The Nouvelle revue française [N.R.F.] declines to publish the novel.
  • 1913:À la recherche du temps perdu, Du côté de chez Swann is published by Grasset on November 14 to a mixed reception.
  • 1914: Works on material that will be found in A l'ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs; Albertine appears in the narrative for the first time. André Gide proposes that the N.R.F. publish rest of the novel. The First World War begins, precipitating the closure of most French publishing houses, including the N.R.F..
  • 1915: The publication of the second volume of the Recherche, Le côté de Guermantes is postponed because of the War.
  • 1916: Grasset releases Proust from any contractual obligations.
  • 1917: Finishes A l'ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs; asks his house-maid, Céleste Albaret, to burn in the kitchen oven thirty-two "black notebooks" containing draft material.
  • 1918: The novel is now conceived of in five volumes.
  • 1919: At the end of June A l'ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs, the N.R.F. edition of Swann, and Pastiches et mélanges (a collection of Proust's pastiches and other writings) are published. To some controversy, Proust is awarded the Prix Goncourt in December.
  • 1920: Le côté de Guermantes I is published.
  • 1921: Le côté de Guermantes II and Sodome et Gomorrhe I are published.
  • 1922: In early spring, Proust writes the word "fin." In May Sodome et Gomorrhe II is published. In the same month he attends the premiere of Stravinsky's Renard and afterwards dines with the composer, Diaghilev, Picasso, and Joyce. In September Swann's Way is published in England, translated by Charles Scott Moncrieff, under the general title, Remembrance of Things Past, a phrase taken from the second line of Shakespeare's Sonnet XXX. Proust dies of pneumonia on November 18, and is buried in Père Lachaise on November 22.
  • 1923: La Prisonnière is published.
  • 1925: Albertine disparue is published. This was not Proust's title for the volume; La fugitive was replaced to avoid confusion with a work of the same name by Rabindranath Tagore.
  • 1927: Le temps retrouvé is published on September 22.
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Page last updated: May 25, 2005