Today, July 10, 2013, is the anniversary of Marcel Proust’s birthday; he would have been 142 years old, had he managed to hang on for this long. Not that he probably would have wanted to; in ill health since childhood, in pain and and frequently unable to breathe to the point where he thought he would suffocate to death, when he wrote the ending to his magnum opus, In Search of Lost Time, he told his companion Celeste, “Now I can die”. He was only 51 when he died in 1922, but today, we will celebrate his birth and his life. Bon Anniversaire, Marcel.
Marcel Proust, the greatest novelist of the 20th century, was as great a reader. He read, among many others, Balzac, Ruskin, Baudelaire, Shakespeare…and his French counterpart and alter-ego, Colette. He said that reading was “…that fruitful miracle of a communication in the midst of solitude.” Anyone who has ever lost themselves in a book, letting pots boil over and the madeleines in the oven burn while they wander the halls of Tara or the hills and hollows of Middle Earth, only coming back to the “real” world dragged by the smell of smoke or the sirens of the fire engine, will nod their heads in agreement with Marcel. A good book speaks directly to our souls, bypassing our ears, and we listen with every part and fiber of our selves, the madeleines be damned.
Parisian by Heart, my first novel, was written out of my love for Marcel and the work of his life. To honor Marcel, who features prominently in my novel, on his birthday, I have two signed copies of Parisian by Heart to give away. Just leave a comment here on this post, or like this Facebook page. The giveaway will end at midnight on July 12, 2013.
“There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we spent with a favorite book.” Marcel Proust
May those fully-lived days of your childhood continue throughout your life.