Cover image: Proust as a young man by Jacques-Emile Blanche (Mante-Proust collection)
Marcel Proust is universally recognised as one of the three of four leading figures in twentieth century literature. A study of Proust's life is unusually rewarding : an understanding of the subtle means by which he transformed his own experiences, and borrowed from those of this friends and acquaintances, serves to enhance our appreciation of his genius.
William Sansom, as a novelist of very individual gifts and great sensitivity in his approach to human relationships, is ideally suited to this subject. He is able not only to place the young mondaine Proust within the intricate framework of Parisian society in the decades leading up to First World War but also to sketch with rare vividness the myriad characters who exist in various guises within the broad confines of Proust's novel. Proust himself is shown to be much more than the familiar invalid sealed in his cork-lined room and chasing with his pen after the phantom of Time.