Writer par excellence

May 6, 2013 | By William C. Carter

William C. Carter is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. His biography Marcel Proust: A Life was selected as a “Notable Book of 2000” by The New York Times, a “Best Book of 2000” by the Los Angeles Times, and a  “Best Biography of 2000” by the Sunday Times of London. He co-produced the award-winning documentary Marcel Proust: A Writer’s Life. His annotated edition of Scott Moncrieff’s translation of Swann’s Way will be published in November by Yale University Press. His website is http://www.proust-ink.com.


I find it extraordinary that whenever the national media in the U. S. wants to typify the writer par excellence it is usually Proust who is cited. His name crops up all the time in The New Yorker (as do new cartoons to add to the already impressive list; more cartoons devoted to Proust than to any other writer, I'm sure), The New York Review of Books, The New York Times, etc. Not only does Proust have in the U. S. what journalists call an extremely high "name recognition factor", but his image, whether in a photograph or drawing, is instantly identified. Sports Illustrated, amazingly enough, once ran a 10-page article (December 17, 1973) about Proust's "quiet enthusiasm for sports." One would not have been surprised to see so many pages devoted to, say, American novelist Ernest Hemingway, the sports enthusiast who loved boxing and hunting, but to find Proust in those pages is no doubt unexpected. Here is the cover of the SI issue and the opening pages of the article.


Air France is a proud sponsor of 2013: A Year with Proust, a year long festival organized by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy.

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