We all have a problem with Proust. Many have read him. Many more haven’t. Those that have including moi realise that the book(100 years old this year) is a darn good yarn. But what about old Marcel. Poof of course, no good at sport, all that ,lolling around, Mummy’s boy- I mean where’s the beef? But he did write a great book and as someone who still struggles to write just one great line, that has got to mean something.
Its not that he was no good at sport,he didn’t even support a football team. Now even Elton John and his oh so handsome husband support a football team.
And then he is French. Not a rip roaring front row, a pastis for breakfast, off to Verdun ,Frenchman like FLaubert, Hugo, Balzac or Dumas but a mincing little hair dresser. Hair parted down the middle, a fetching curl and with one of those delightfully camp moustaches. The kind that during the occupation(which one?) would say, “Now , Wolfgang, a number un or deux. I think it looks much more butch longer, no ,I love the boot on the neck.” Probably a teetotaller. Sacre Bleu.
And then there is the Jewish thing. OK his pere(father) was Catholic which gave him a lot of guilt but saved him from the dreaded cut ,however, his mere(mother) could trace her family back to the banks of the Jordan. Apparently she was brainy enough to help le petit Marcel translate Ruskin into French. Now Ruskin’s sexuality, well, that’s another story. So Marcel has Catholic guilt and a Jewish intellectualism. It could have been worse, he could have been working class or black. Or all those things, a gay Sammy Davis who speaks French and lives in a trailer park.. But its still a lot to stomach.
Especially all the guff about being desperate to be kissed by his Mom. Of course a young chap needs the odd hug from his mater. But being obsessive about a good night kiss from an older woman. Its frankly rather gay, am I missing something here? Real men are happy that their mothers prefer gardening to bonding.
Actually real men don’t have mothers-there is a woman at the christening and the wedding and someone whose funeral you attend, otherwise motherhood leads to apple pie and apple pie to fat. OK ,if they promise not to blub too much they can come to the passing out parade and the investiture.
Maybe he wasn’t in the XV, still the tight trousered Marcel wrote a great book which puts him the Worlds First XI in Literature. He liked afternoon tea and seems to have known one of the stars of the Hare with the Amber Eyes. For these reasons alone he worth a sketch by Monty Python. See below. If you can’t get it up Google- Monty Python Proust sketch.
Failing that here one I made up. Knock,knock,who’s there?
Marcel. Marcel Who?
Ma said you cried in your sleep last night.