Bonsoir, mon ami

Today, November 18th, is the anniversary of Marcel Proust’s death in 1922.  If you will look in the column to the right of this post, you will see a badge that says “Nanowrimo participant”.  Nanowrimo stands for National Novel Writing Month, and I have committed myself to the writing of a book.  Part of what I am writing includes a visit from Marcel Proust, who, as you can read below if you so choose, has just esconced himself in our guest bed and is preparing to tell me a story.  In honor of the anniversary of Marcel Proust’s death, I offer this excerpt from my 50,ooo word not-so-magnum opus:

“Francoise now had Marcel propped up in the bed, with pillows and sweaters piled up behind him, and on either side of him, so that he could prop his elbows on them as he ate his croissant and drank his coffee, with the tray on a pillow on his lap.  Francoise stood at the foot of the bed, watching as Marcel finished his croissant and then going to fetch another as he requested.  While she was gone, he lay back on the pillows and closed his eyes.  He looked so much, at the moment, like the photograph taken by Man Ray after Proust had died, of him lying on his death bed with his sunken eyes closed and his nose sharp with skin stretched tight over it, that I was frozen in time, staring at the face I’d never seen in reality and yet- here it was.  He opened his eyes and caught me staring at him.  He smiled.  “Do not worry, Madame,  I will be restored soon.  And then I will begin the story”. 

Man Ray's death photo of Marcel Proust


7 comments on “Bonsoir, mon ami

  1. Michael L. says:

    Good on you for writing and for sharing this passage. And for the reminder about the 18th.

    I still remember when I first saw that photograph, browsing one of the big biographies in a library (Carter’s, I think). It’s such a sad and arresting image.

    • marimann says:

      Thanks, Michael. I wonder about the circumstances behind this photograph, like after Proust died, did someone say, “Quick! Call Man Ray”? One would think they would have called Nadar, at least, I think Nadar was the one that took all the “society” pictures at that time, and had already taken many pictures of Proust and his family. Maybe Nadar was already dead? Guess I’ll have to go look this one up. Thanks for the comment.

  2. blepclips says:

    A lot of of folks write about this subject but you wrote down really true words.

  3. sandra stone says:

    Is it not true, then, that Proust, after going to the Jeu de Paume in 1921, to see Vermeer’s A View of Delft,
    returned to his bed and began to change the death of Bergotte so that, instead of dying in bed, he died after being taken by stilled time in the Vermeer. I am writing about this incident. Is my fact checking somehow incorrect? A response would be gratefully received.

    sandra stone

    • marimann says:

      Sandra~ This post contains an excerpt from a novel I wrote entitled Parisian By Heart in which Marcel Proust is one of the characters. It does not contain factual information on Proust’s life. For an answer to your question and for help with your research, a good site to peruse is
      Bonne chance and thank you for your comment.

      • sandra stone says:

        Many thanks. Your idea is intriguing. My thought had been that someone reading my inquiry might know the answer. Certainly I will go to the website. My book is a collection of poems with the title, The Plight of Proust’s Throat or, Why Bergotte Died. Salud. ::ss

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