Celeste Albaret was Marcel Proust's housekeeper in his last years, when he retreated from the world to devote himself to In Search of Lost Time. She could imitate his voice to perfection, and Proust himself said to her, "You know everything about me." Her reminiscences of her employer present an intimate picture of the daily life of a great writer who was also a deeply peculiar man, while Madame Albaret herself proves to be a shrewd and engaging companion.
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(202mm x 124mm x 125mm)
Publisher: The New York Review of Books, Inc
Country of Publication:
UK Kirkus Review »
Celeste Albaret was a young, recently-married country girl when she came to Paris in 1913. Marcel Proust was a peculiar, reclusive man who spent most of his time in bed in a cork-lined room, waking mid-afternoon and writing into the early hours of the morning. It would be hard to find two more different people. But Celeste became more than just a housekeeper to Monsieur Proust - she became his willing slave. Fifty years after Proust's death in 1922, Celeste tells the story of the nine years she spent watching over him, anticipating his smallest need, as he worked on his seven-volume masterpiece, 'A la recherche du temps perdu'. Loyal to the end, the picture she paints is nonetheless one of an obsessive man who controls every aspect of his daily life and manipulates for his own ends every person with whom he comes into contact. Detailed, fascinating and distinctly unsettling. (Kirkus UK)
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Author Biography - Celeste Albaret
Celeste Albaret (1892-1984) was born into a peasant family in the mountainous region of Lozere, France. In 1913, she married Odilon Albaret, a Parisian chauffeur, whose clients included Marcel Proust. Odilon suggested that his new wife, who was lonely in the big city and at a loss for something to do, run errands for Proust, and before long Celeste found herself employed as the writer's full-time (indeed round-the-clock) housekeeper, secretary, and nurse, filling those roles until his death in 1922. In later years, Celeste ran a small hotel in Paris with her husband and daughter, and after Odilon's death in 1960, she became the caretaker of the Musee Ravel in the town of Montfort l'Amaury. Monsieur Proust was published in 1972. In recognition of her decade-long service to Proust, Celeste Albaret was made a commander of the French Order of Arts and Letters. She died of emphysema at the age of 92. Andre Aciman teaches Comparative Literature at the City University Graduate Center. He is the author of False Papers and the memoir Out of Egypt.