Photograph of Marcel Proust looking pensive.

Marcel Proust

(1871 - 1922)

In 1912 Marcel Proust sent the manuscript of Swann’s Way, the first book of the seven-volume In Search of Lost Time, to three publishers, who rejected it. One of them, La Nouvelle Revue Française, where André Gide was on the editorial board, supposedly did not even deign to read it; another, Fasquelle, wrote, “At the end of 712 pages one has absolutely no idea what this manuscript is about.” Proust published it at his own expense. The second volume, Within a Budding Grove, received the Prix Goncourt in 1919. Proust died at the age of fifty-one three years later.

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The features of our face are hardly more than gestures which force of habit has made permanent.

—Marcel Proust, 1919

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