A portrait gallery of Marcel Proust's world, with detailed captions explaining which photographic subjects were the models for which characters in Remembrance of Things Past.
Marcel Proust (1871–1922) was one of the great geniuses of modern literature. Born in Auteil to wealthy bourgeois parents, he suffered delicate health as a child. During his high school years, he began to frequent salons such as that of Madame Arman, a friend of Anatole France. Troubled by asthma and neuroses, as well as by the deaths of his parents, Proust increasingly withdrew from the outer world and after 1907 lived mainly in a cork-lined room, working at night on his monumental novel À la recherche du temps perdu (Remembrance of Things Past). The World of Proust, as seen by Paul Nadar offers an intimate stroll through the society on which Proust's novel is based. The heart of the book consists of photographs found in the archive of Paul Nadar. These photographs make up a portrait gallery of Proust's friends and family—as well as of the aristocrats, artists, bourgeoisie, actresses, and "tarts" who inhabit the novel. Included are portraits of Sarah Bernhardt, Jean Cocteau, Alphonse Daudet, Claude Debussy, Stéphane Mallarmé, Claude Monet, and Emile Zola. Each photograph is accompanied by a detailed caption describing the subject and the character in the novel modeled on that person.
Paul Nadar (1856–1939), the son of "Nadar," was part of the famous Nadar atelier. He took over his father's business and founded the journal Paris Photographe in 1891.