Review: Bloch-Dano, Madame Proust
The online literary magazine Bookslut is running a nice review of Evelyn Bloch-Dano’s forthcoming book, Madame Proust: A Biography. The mother of one of the nineteenth century’s most important novelists, Jeanne Weil Proust was a profound influence on her son’s life and writing. But as Bookslut reviewer Aysha Somasundaram notes, Bloch-Dano’s new book goes beyond the typical focus of most biographies to deliver a thorough account of the social and cultural milieu in which Proust’s masterpiece, In Search of Lost Time, was written. Somasundaram writes:
Meticulously researched, Madame Proust offers a socio-cultural portrait of French and Jewish culture and how each intersected in Proust’s lifetime. It not only explores Anti-Semitism, assimilation and naturalization of Jewish French Nationals and the Dreyfus affair but also ably recreates the bourgeois milieu, familial and cultural context and the physical lay-out of the Paris in which Marcel Proust lived. Marcel Proust was the product of an arranged marriage between an affluent Jewish mother and upwardly mobile Catholic father.…
Bloch-Dano’s biography offers a sensitive, delicate evocation of the relationship Proust would describe as his life’s “only purpose, its only sweetness, its only love, its only consolation.” Madame Proust is a well-conceived and insightful tribute to a woman who lived quietly and whose ambitions and hopes centered fixedly on her family’s well-being and her son’s fulfillment.