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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars first rate, 16 Mar. 2014
tallmanbaby (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Marcel Proust (Critical Lives) (Kindle Edition)
Marcel Proust - Critical Lives on Kindle

I have read a few of these Critical Lives books and to date they have all been very good, but this is probably my favourite. The author treads the fine line between uncritical admiration and scholarly detachment, managing to write with genuine affection and insight.

A few very minor criticisms, the Kindle version seems to miss a few illustrations, they do appear when I use the Kindle App on my laptop, and I felt that the eventual death of Proust was slightly mishandled. Although it was inevitable, it could have been delivered with more drama.

I would heartily recommend this book to anyone who has got to the end of the first volume of In Search of Lost Time, it will increase your enjoyment and understanding of the remaining volumes and further increase your affection and admiration for Proust himself.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended study of Marcel Proust, the man and the author, 12 Dec. 2013
If you don't have the time for either of the nearly 1000-page Proust biographies by Carter or Tadié (well worth the time and effort though they are), Adam Watt's new book is a fine choice to learn about Proust's life and work. Formally it is a biography, of course, but, in fact, it reads like a literary essay, lively, balanced, and highly engaging. The large body of books on Proust continues to grow (especially given the 2013 centenary of the publication of "Du côté de chez Swann", some of it of little value, but this is a very worthy addition to the literature for which Professor Watt is to be commended. Watt is properly chary of those who would equate "À la Recherche du temps perdu" to Proust biography and acquaintances and cautions against this impulse (just as Proust himself cautioned); but he recognized that Proust did mine his experience and did smelt or translate that experience into his art. Watt makes good strategic use of Philip Kolb's monumental edition of letters, Correspondance de Marcel Proust (according to his daughter Jocelyne Kolb, Kolb once remarked to the effect that if Recherche may be thought of as the finished face of a tapestry, then what is revealed in Proust's letters looks like the tapestry's reverse side, only roughly but still recognizably related.) Along these lines, at page 54 of "Proust" (quoted from p. 190 of the Pléiade), Watt quotes tellingly from Proust's attempted but abandoned novel, known now as "Jean Santeuil": "What are the secret relations, the necessary metamorphoses that exist between the life of a writer and his work, between reality and art, or rather, as we thought at that time, between the appearances of life and the reality itself which was their lasting basis and which art brought into relief?"

Two small errors might be noted for correction in any future edition. First, at page 126, Honfleur is incorrectly placed "to the west of Cabourg" (the model for Balbec) on the Normandy coast, whereas east-northeast would be the correct heading. Second, at page 129, the preterite of the verb "to steel" (as in to prepare oneself mentally) appears as "stole".

But these are trifling matters in a very good book well worth your attention.
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4.0 out of 5 stars a good brief biography, 10 Feb. 2014
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For anyone who reads Proust's works one needs to know about the author's life.This little biography gives a good description of his life both as an author and a person and I would recommend it to Proust readers.
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