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07-Apr-2017 14:50

Proust, he thought, was a snob, a society writer who dealt in trivia, a nostalgist who evoked the lost days of belle époque France, and whose obsession with memory didn’t just avoid the present but actually denied it.Proust, born in Paris in 1871 to an upper-class family and Jewish on his mother’s side, wrote the obituary of 19th-century France.

Our bodies live according to them: we have come from, we are going to, and we are currently in. We have clocks, which segment time, calendars which look “full” or “empty” (spatial terms again), turns of phrase (“my day was filled with…”) and proverbs about time “flying” when we’re having fun.

In autumn 1912, a writer best known for pastiches and society columns took a manuscript to the Nouvelle Revue Française, recently founded by Gaston Gallimard.