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Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Barbara Bray Translator. She could imitate his voice to perfection, and Proust himself said to her, "You know everything about me. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. More Details Original Title.

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Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Start your review of Monsieur Proust. Oct 30, Ahmad Sharabiani rated it really liked it Shelves: biography , culture , non-fiction , memoir , 20th-century , france , french , literature , classics.

The most regular of Odilon Albaret's regular clients was the celebrated novelist and critic, Marcel Proust. Lonely and bored in the grand city, and at her husband's suggestion, Albaret began to run errands for Proust. Before very long she became his secretary and housekeeper. View 2 comments. In the case of A la recherche du temps perdu , there was no instant delivery by stork and no cabbage leaves involved either.

Instead, it took a long time and involved a lot of labour, the author horizontal on his bed, giving birth slowly and with huge effort to the book of his life. While he laboured, semi-propped against his pillows, determined to deliver his work onto the page perfectly formed, he had the services of an excellent midwife. She brought him warm shawls and hot water bottles.

She brought him coffee and tisanes. She protected him as much as possible from disturbances. She turned unwanted visitors away at the door. She helped sort the quantities of loose notes which he kept adding to his manuscript.

She wrote his words from dictation when he was too feeble to hold a pen. It would be normal to imagine that neither of them could have realised at that moment the extent to which their lives were to be influenced by this meeting, but I suspect Proust, keen beholder of beauty that he was, may have foreseen the future a little, perhaps even desired to possess a Joconde of his very own She became his housekeeper, his valet, his secretary, and more or less his constant and only companion during the next nine years, the most productive in terms of writing.

The fact that her husband was called up to fight during and was away for most of the next four years allowed her to devote herself exclusively to her employer under whose spell she clearly fell almost immediately on meeting him. She was thirty and she thought her life was over. When she was 82, she finally agreed to share those memories, and she told her story to Georges Belmont over many hours. Georges Belmont seems to have delivered the story to us more or less as she recounted it - he says he did little more than organise the information in a coherent way.

The result is very readable and we suspect that Georges Belmont is the very best kind of ghost writer, almost invisible yet very present in a practical way. View all 58 comments. Oct 02, E. Nov 30, TBV rated it it was amazing Shelves: france , favourites , , autobio-bio-memoirs , nonfiction , authors-books , reviewed Belmont assures the reader that he tested her information by repeatedly returning to various topics from different angles.

Albaret was years-old. Albaret was M. It had not been her intention to seek employment with M. Proust, but her husband, Odilon, was M. And a full time job it certainly was! For starters her day became night and her night day. Proust, a lifelong asthma sufferer, was largely confined to bed. Proust went out at all or entertained it was at night. It was not unusual for her to be sent out in the middle of the night to deliver a message.

It was also an exacting task, because everything had to be just so. There were specific suppliers for various items such as food, clothing and other items; no one else would do. Everything was arranged exactly as required.

The young lady recently arrived from the country soon adapted to all these demands, and came to love platonically and respect her employer. She burned his notebooks when required to do so, and she was loyal and discreet. She debunks rumours and gossip about M. He observed and he used those observations and his memories in his writing. The impression is of a charming and polite man, but also a man who could use people for his own purposes and then simply discard them.

He had some very close friends, particularly Reynaldo Hahn the composer, and Mme. Straus the former wife of the composer Georges Bizet. However, his opinion of other authors was not always flattering. Albaret must have been pretty extraordinary herself. I have since progressed to the second volume. Without them, it just passes by and is gone. I have put all my memory and observation in my characters, to make them true.

And to be true they have to be complete. That is why each of them is dressed in what I have noticed or remembered about people in real life. All my childhood had been spent in the freedom of the country and the affection of my mother. We went to bed with the hens and rose with the roosters, or nearly. And I not only lived in the same rhythm as he did, but twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week I lived entirely for him.

There can be no question of our bringing out something like this, the work of a fashionable dandy. This attachment to the past in his everyday life is all the more strange when you realize how far, in his books, he saw into the future - when you think of all he wrote about the dissolution of a certain kind of world and society.

He had a strange faculty of vanishing, while his lips went on speaking. And then suddenly his gaze would come back and light on you again as if in surprise. View all 16 comments. Dec 27, David rated it really liked it Shelves: nyrb , france. And by 'wrote' I mean that she rattled off her memories to a ghostwriter, and then the ghostwriter's book Monsieur Proust was later translated into English. But probably another layer of removal is implied by the fifty years which passed between the events of the book and Albaret's recollections.

I don't know about you, but I have a difficult time remembering what I did or said last week, so to my thinking an account fifty years after the fact necessarily implies approximation. Albaret, ironically, weakens her case for accuracy when she insists that she remembers quite a few exact quotations and precise details. But nothing is more damaging to her claim of nearly exhaustive knowledge of Proust during the final years of his life than her insistence that he was not a homosexual.

Her arguments seem motivated by rationalizations and perhaps by her own preference that Proust not be homosexual, but who really knows?

One of Albaret's lamest attempts to buttress her case is her claim that Proust told her pretty much everything, so he would have likewise told her of his 'indiscretions. Without any hint of irony, Albaret maintains that Proust several times visited a male brothel but only for purposes of research. Of course, his observations at the brothel are featured memorably in Time Regained , but one tends to raise an eyebrow at the claim that his interests were solely educational.

Albaret spends one chapter itemizing the 'loves of his life' all of them women, all of them seemingly chaste and discusses the 'real' Gilberte Swann, Duchesse de Guermantes, Madame Verdurin, and others although these characters were amalgams of many real people.


Céleste Albaret

Lonely and bored in the capital, and at her husband's suggestion, Albaret began to run errands for Proust, who was her husband's most regular client. Before very long she became his secretary and housekeeper. Marcel Proust died in and Albaret moved on to run a small Paris hotel, together with her husband and daughter. Odilon Albaret died in , by which time the hotel had been sold and Albaret had become the caretaker-guide at a museum at Montfort-l'Amaury , on the western edge of Paris.


Monsieur Proust Memoir by Celeste Albaret

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Monsieur Proust

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