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,
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
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
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
1892: Collaborates with former
schoolmates from the Lycée Condorcet to publish
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
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
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
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
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
1918: The novel is now conceived of in
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
1920: Le côté de
Guermantes I is published.
1921: Le côté de
Guermantes II and Sodome et Gomorrhe I
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
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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