The Summer issue of BookForum features a number of new titles on Marcel Proust, including two by the acclaimed Proust biographer William C. Carter, whose Marcel Proust: A Life was named a New York Times Notable Book in 2000.
Carter’s new Proust in Love portrays Proust’s amorous adventures and misadventures from adolescence through his adult years, supplying where appropriate Proust’s own sensitive, intelligent, and often disillusioned observations about love and sexuality. “Proust in Love traces the cookie dipper’s oeuvre as an exorcism of his erotic illusions,” says Rhonda Lieberman in BookForum: Proust is revealed as a man agonizingly caught between the constant fear of public exposure as a homosexual and the need to find and express love. In telling the story of Proust in love, Carter also shows how the author’s experiences became major themes in his novel In Search of Lost Time.
The second book is the complete text of the memoirs of Ernest Forssgren (1894-1970), the young Swede who served as Proust’s last valet. Edited with an introduction and helpful annotations by William Carter, The Memoirs of Ernest A. Forssgren: Proust’s Swedish Valet is “a Gosford Park-ish curiosity for true Proust yentas,” says Lieberman. “As poignantly self-aggrandizing and unself-aware as Proust was the opposite, the poor fellow is a closet case.” Also included here is other new material, including the inscriptions that Proust wrote for Forssgren’s copy of Swann’s Way; an important telegram that Proust sent Forssgren, which defines with greater precision the novelist’s activities in the final months of his life; Forssgren’s “Summary” of the first English biography of Proust, by George D. Painter, which provides many new details about Proust’s last trip to Cabourg in 1914 and his attempts at seducing young men of the servant class; and the notes that Forssgren made in his copy of Painter’s biography.