Culture

The Centennial of the Death of Marcel Proust

“I had always, within reach, a plan of Paris, which, because I could see drawn on it the street in which M. and Mme Swann lived, seemed to me to contain a secret treasure.” — Marcel Proust, “Swann’s Way”

The upcoming festival “The Paris of Marcel Proust” invites aficionados to travel to the Belle Epoque universe of the writer.

“Proust had conventional Parisian haute-bourgeois tastes of the time, from dinner in the Ritz garden to sexual frolics in the Right Bank brothels. He wanted the Prix Goncourt (got it), the Légion d’Honneur (got it), and membership in the Académie Française (couldn’t get it). Along with everything else he did that was more academically respectable, he offered a picture of a particularly beautiful place and period in the world’s history,” writes Adam Gopnik in the New Yorker.

Musée Jean-Jacques Henner in Paris. © Hartl Meyer

So, will Proust change your life? Find out at Le Paris Retrouvé de Marcel Proust Festival, a joyful tribute to the author marking the centennial of his death. (He was born July 10th, 1871 and died November 18th, 1922 – laid to rest at Père-Lachaise Cemetery).

For the second edition taking place from March 9-21, 2022, the Festival Proust de la Plaine Monceau, sponsored by the writer and comic designer Stéphane Heuet, offers around 30 events during 12 days: concerts, walks, readings, conferences, exhibitions, round tables, balls, meetings and tastings…

“No sooner had the warm liquid mixed with the crumbs touched my palate than a shudder ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me.” — Swann’s Way.

Henner Museum Salon rouge 2 © Hartl-Meyer

Strengthened by close ties and souvenirs left by Proust in the Plaine Monceau ‘hood, the Hôtel Littéraire Le Swann, the Jean-Jacques Henner Museum, and Fontaine Haussmann bookshop, accompanied by enthusiastic partners (like the Le Société des Hôtels Littéraires, Éditions Thélème, Société des Amis de Marcel Proust, Citéco, Nissim de Camondo Museum and the Edmond Rostand media library), invite you to “come celebrate some Proustian moments.”

“We all want to pay homage to the author of La Recherche and bring a slice of rediscovered time to life for visitors,” explains Colombe Charrier, Head of Project.

The Jean-Jacques Henner Museum  is an astonishing, “secret” museum located in a handsome, 19th-century mansion in the 17th arrondissement; it’s also one of the only privately owned houses open to the public in Paris. With this festival, the museum pays homage to Proust and the artistic life and salons of the Belle-Époque. Expect concerts, balls, walks, costume parties and encounters evoking the life and times of the dandy, socialite, gourmet and musician that was Proust. “We’ve also discovered original and renewed approaches to the writer,” says Colombe Charrier.

The Hôtel Littéraire Le Swann’s conferences and seminars will feature prestigious speakers to talk about their books and favorite Proustian themes, such as Jérôme Bastianelli, music critic and President of the Societé des Amis Marcel Proust, Proust expert Antoine Compagnon, writer Laure Hillerin, and Anne-Laure Sol, the curator of the Proust exhibit at the Carnavalet museum.

Jean-Yves Tadié, the writer, biographer, and academic noted for his work on Proust, will talk under the gaze of an exhibition of the fabulous original boards of “The Adaptation of La Recherche,” a beautifully illustrated comic book by Stéphane Heuet.

At 50 rue Laborde, 8th The Fontaine Haussmann bookshop, frequented by Proust and his governess Céleste Albaret, pay tribute via a walk and exhibition “Memories of Céleste Albaret”.

Continue your own search of Marcel Proust in Paris on thematic walks and admire the exhibition called “Proust, a Parisian Novel” at the Musée Carnavalet, the museum situated in the Marais district that’s dedicated to the history of Paris.

Take tea (from €68-€103 per person) at The Ritz, Paris in the Salon Marcel Proust.
The author was at the hotel’s inauguration in 1898 and made the Ritz his second home. Enjoy Florentines, chocolate cake, meringues, almond tarts, and of course, the iconic madeleines deliciously crafted by François Perret, The Ritz, Paris Executive Pastry Chef.

Read: A La Recherche du Paris de Marcel Proust by Henri Raczymow, with English text by Mary Deschamps. Priced at €14.90 and published by Parigramme.

The “Easter egg” Madeleine, created by pastry chef François Perret at the Ritz Paris. © Bernhard Winkelmann

Born in Hampton, Middlesex, UK, Margaret Kemp is a lifestyle journalist, based between London, Paris and the world. Intensive cookery courses at The Cordon Bleu, London, a wedding gift from a very astute ex-husband, gave her the base that would take her travelling (leaving the astute one behind) in search of rare food and wine experiences, such as the vineyards of Thailand, ‘gator hunting in South Florida, learning to make eye-watering spicy food in Kerala;pasta making in a tiny Tuscany trattoria. She has contributed to The Guardian, The Financial Times Weekend and FT. How To Spend It.com, The Spectator, Condé Nast Traveller, Food & Travel, and Luxos Magazine. She also advises as consultant to luxury hotels and restaurants. Over the years, Kemp has amassed a faithful following on BonjourParis. If she were a dish she’d be Alain Passard’s Millefeuille “Caprice d’Enfant”, as a painting: Manet’s Dejeuner sur l’herbe !