By George D. Painter
This vintage biography was once initially released in volumes in 1959 and 1965 respectively. It has now been revised and up-to-date right into a single-volume version. the writer has been presented the OBE and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He has written a number of different biographies.
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Additional info for Marcel Proust: A Biography
Its interminable clanging could be heard in Mme Larcher's front room across the Place Lemoine, and she would always say to her visitors: "There goes Jules Amiot's doorbell"; it could never be mistaken for the 'double tinkle, timid, oval and gilded' of the visitors' bel!. In his novel Proust brought the Auteuil garden and with it Swann to Comhray, but he kept the garden gate of Illiers and the two bells, which took their place among the most potent symbols of Time Lost. Past Aunt Amiot's front door ran the Rue du Saint-Esprit, 'monotonous and grey, with its three gritstone steps before nearly every door, like a furrow cut by a sculptor of gothic images in the very stone in which he has carved a crib or a calvary'.
The spire of Saint-Jacques, nearly half a mile away, shows through the trees, as it did at Tansonville. 2 There is a sound of gently falling water from a weir in the Loir near by. Above the lawns was a steep hill covered with a dense copse of hazels, known as the Bois Pilou, where Marcel and Robert played at hide-and-seek, and sometimes frightened themselves into believing they were really lost. Near the left-hand side of the garden, separated by the hawthorn hedge from the petit sentier, a path with stone steps climbed the slope, a favourite haunt, nowadays at least, of long, fat, steel-grey slow-worms.
Partly this is because Proust saw Illiers in childhood, when the visual object, which later serves 1 III, 693 • Ill, 692-3 THE TWO WAYS 3S only to mask immaterial truth, is still able to reveal it: for to the child's eye object and symbol are one and the same. Partly, too, it is because he wrote of Combray after many years, when memory had already performed its task of rejecting the inessential. Perhaps there is even some danger of exaggerating the objectivity of the presence in the Illiers landscape of the symbols Proust saw there: they are undoubtedly real outside this world, but in this world may they not be illusions?