Saturday, April 11, 2009

Interesting Proust Tidbits

Ten days of houseguests does not lend itself to reading Proust or much of anything except the daily paper and lots of recipes.
However, to the rescue, Helena in Australia has come up with a goody bag of Proust minutiae.
Ancestral Voices by JamesLees-Milne (1942 diaries) published 1975 Chatto& Windus London
Page 160
re: Princesse Edmond de Polignac (born Winifred Singer, d 1943)"who knew Proust very well (and said) "he used to take a taxi for ahundred yards, tip the cabman 100 francs for the pleasure of feelinghimself a 'grand seigneur'. This practice got him into trouble."
pp. 195-196
re: Mrs Betty Montgomery"she lent me several books, including Au Bal Avec Marcel Proust byMarthe Bibesco.Mrs Montgomery never met Proust but he sent her his photograph which she showed me.It is of a sleek young waiter wearing a gardenia.
Mrs betty is irritated that Proust has 'come into fashion'. Even this fact 'can't make me drop him.'
pp 211-212:
". . . dined with the princesse de Polignac ... this led to Proust. Our hostess evidently disliked him. She had known him since he was ahandsome young man with melting brown eyes, until his death.It was impossible to endure his company for long at a time.He was touchy and took umbrage at every supposed slight. In fact he detected slights where they were never intended - in a tone, or voice,or look. As a result he would fire off thirty letters to in rapid succession. In France before the first war none but the St. Germain set recognised his gifts.
When the Princess found that there was already a Proust Society in england, only Chez Swann having been published, she was amazed. Proust was either in the depths or the heights, when he would toss money to servants as though it were chicken food. His life was studded with unfulfilled romantic attachments. He never ceased to correspond with the princess, although their periods of intimacy were fitful.She dispelled the rumour that she was the origin of Madame Verdurin bytelling us that when she entertained Proust-lovers in her Kings Road House before 1914 they called themselves for fun by the names ofcharacters in Chez Swann and she was Madame Verdurin.
ppP 272-273
(24th November dinner at Madame de Polignac)"She said that Proust's limited knowledge of England came through Ruskin ...The last time she saw Proust was at a dinner party given for him in Paris. He attended pale and ill, wearing a long sealskin dressing gown down to his ankles.The Duke of Marlborough, who was at the party, was indignant at the informality of his clothes.The Duke had no idea who he was when he was explained to him."
English dukes are not known for literacy or intelligence, even now.
Ah Marcel, what a true individualist.

1 comment:

Ann oDyne said...

Just got my Vanity Fair May issue with Jane Fonda's answers to their Proust Questionnaire - for 'Favourite writers?' she gives ... Proust!