Sun. Dec 15th, 2019

"Proust wrote like this because he was asthmatic"

When Proust he won Goncourt by In the shadow of the blooming girls, They fell everywhere. They protested ex-combatants, pacifists, reactionaries, revolutionaries who felt insulted. A real scandal. Everything that surrounds that December 10, 1919 in which the award was granted to Marcel Proust (Paris, 1871-1922) and his subsequent controversy has recovered him Thierry laget in Proust, Goncourt Award (Subsoil Editions).

Journalistic distrust

"He cited journalists at midnight, at home, he lay down and, in front, a dinner recently brought from the Ritz"

For weeks, the press attacks Marcel Proust and mocks him. He is too old (48 years old), too rich (5,000 francs would be more useful to a writer in need), too mundane (although he lives in seclusion in his bed, only drinks milk and does not support the stove or flowers), too talkative (A novel of more than 400 pages!), Too crazy. He grew overprotected by his father, a doctor, and his mother, cultivated beans. Total: hypochondriac and melifluo.

Explore The Limits

"He did imminent death experiments taking certain drugs and opiates"

Dorgelès, his literary rival, laughs openly at the Proustian style. Write “You would sleep reading Proust's book. It's as scary as como lethargic encephalitis ’.” With irony, Thierry Laget (Clermont-Ferrand, 1959) addresses how the concession of the Goncourt Prize was designed and what was the reaction of his contemporaries to the publication of one of the most important literary works of the twentieth century.

Proust was hated very much for receiving that award. He was reproached for winning a book about girls on the beach while his rival wrote about war and patriotic honor.

And what he had done the mili, there are photos in Orleans, with his cape. He was not called up for sick, he would not have survived even on the first day in the trench! But he was a patriot and always fought a duel.

Once because they got into their homosexuality

Yes, that was the reason. He also challenged journalists a lot, he had enough mania.

When he won the Goncourt he didn't want to talk to them.

He told Celeste, his assistant, not to let them in ("I don't receive journalists: they speak badly of me") but he was ready. He spoke only with the one of the most read newspaper.

The book draws that sick and lazy Proust called "the Parisian hermit." How many hobbies did he accumulate?

Enough, enough. I drank a lot of milk and cold beer. It seems that it fed almost exclusively on croissants and coffee, occasionally, a sole or a chicken breast.

Is it true that he only left his house three times a month?

It almost didn't come out. And when he talked to a journalist he quoted him at home, invited them at midnight, he lay down and in front of a table with dinner. Dinner that was brought from the Ritz. Thus he did not suffer that smell of fritanga that caused him total irritability.

"I will receive him in bed the day you want, except the next one he left, since in those days I feel bad until eleven at night."

That wrote. It was a case, very fragile. In addition, he was asthmatic. In fact there are those who believe that their asthmatic status has to do with their literary style. Something that I try to understand because, precisely, in that case it would be more syncopated, right?

The slowness, the rhythm, would be your comfort zone.

I guess, experts say his phrasing is typical of an asthmatic. That he wrote like that because he was asthmatic. He gets tired, loosens, takes air and strength, returns, takes up, cyclically. Physical motives could explain his life and his work.

Its reconstruction of the moment they enter his room to announce that he has won the Goncourt is almost comical. Did he live in bed?

Practically! He said he didn't even remember that the ruling was that day, it didn't matter. I think he exaggerated a bit. He was really crazy about winning it and did everything he could to get it. He realized that he was entering another dimension.

What unpublished documents have you consulted?

I found some originals, sketches, hundreds of pages that have not been published. His lyrics are quite readable but he took so many notes that when he ran out of the page he looked for another and another … he hit them all as in a drop-down. The end result is … two meter long accordions!

The second protagonist is Roland Dorgelès, his main rival in Goncourt. He did write about war.

Before being a war hero, he was a satirical journalist and lived as a bohemian in Montmartre. But then he swallowed all the war trenches, all.

You who have read all Proust, in confidence, was not as indigestible as those who accused their texts of being galette de plomb?

Never. I have read a lot about him and about him, I have reread it and never got tired. To enjoy it you need time, just that.

Who did he love the most?

To his mother. And, among his lovers, at the end of his life, especially Alfred Agostinelli, his chauffeur and secretary. Proust gave him an airplane, Alfred got on to fly and crashed with him. There are heartbreaking Proust letters about it, about that love.

Did you experiment dangerously with the passage of time?

He made several experiments of imminent death taking certain drugs, sleeping pills and opiates that are no longer for sale today. When he did this, Celeste was forbidden to enter his room. Nothing was known about him for two days. I think he wanted to try what it was like to approach the limit.

Why do we continue with that proustitis? Does your legend weigh more than your literary quality?

She is a great legend – the cupcake, her room in Liege – but also a huge writer. Dorgelès no longer remembers anyone, so, somehow … although many became fierce against Proust, in the end Proust won.

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