Happy 144th birthday, Proust!
But the sad thing is, he only lived to be 51. If he had lived to a very ripe old age, he possibly could have died in my life time, and definitely in my parent’s lifetimes. There could be grainy black and white footage of him on television chat shows, talking to David Frost about a new book about to be published, or as a guest on Celebrity Squares. Photographs of him with starlets from the 50s and 60s. He would have loved Judy Garland. On the upside he missed out on the second world war, not that I think he’d have fought, not unless his grandmother could have been there to fight alongside and look after him. But he also missed rock and roll, and flared trousers, sexual liberation, Furbies, light-up trainers, and all the amazing technicolour films that would have blown his mind.
I am two-thirds of the way through the second volume of In Search Of Lost Time, much of which the young Marcel spends on holiday with his grandmother in Balbec. He is meeting a lot of posh people and is very pre-occupied with society and everyone’s place in it. It’s comforting to know that as time goes on, he sees the futility of worrying about social status, and also the shallowness of it all, as this video tells us. This is really worth a watch. Art, it’s going to save us all.*
*Please note – art will only metaphorically save us all. Literally, it is rubbish against crocodiles and cross bows, with them, you’re on your own.