Marcel Proust's life leads, after many false starts, to the production of a masterpiece: In Search of Lost Time.
Since its publication in France in the first quarter of the twentieth century, this vast novel has never been out of print. Known for many years in English as Remembrance of Things Past, the title chosen by its distinguished translator C.K. Scott-Moncrieff, this work continues to delight readers in more than thirty languages throughout the world.
Marcel Proust, the elder son of Adrien Proust and Jeanne Weil Proust, is born in the fashionable Paris suburb of Auteuil.
Proust inscribes his tastes, etc., in a keepsake album (Album de Confessions) belonging to Mlle Antoinette Faure, whose father will later be elected president of France.
Proust reads l'Histoire de la conquête de l'Angleterre by Augustin Thierry, which inspires him to become a writer. In a letter written two years later to his mother, he refers to 1886 as "the year of Augustin Thierry."
Proust is introduced to Mme Arman de Caillavet and her lover Anatole France. He begins to frequent her literary salon.
Proust publishes in Le Banquet new Études (portraits of Mme Straus and Mme de Chevigné, models for the duchesse de Guermantes), and a polemic signed "Laurence," attacking L'Irréligion d'État and socialism.
Proust answers questions in a keepsake album about his tastes and preferences. His favorites novelists are Anatole France and Pierre Loti; his preferred poets are Charles Baudelaire and Alfred de Vigny.
Proust meets Count Robert de Montesquiou at a dinner given by Madeleine Lemaire.
Jacques-Émile Blanche's portrait in oil of Proust is exhibited at the official salon.
circa July 1
Proust attends a party where he first sees the comtesse Greffulhe, considered to be the most beautiful woman in Paris. She will be a model for the duchesse de Guermantes.
Proust attends a party at Madeleine Lemaire's, where he meets the young composer Reynaldo Hahn.
circa late December
Hahn introduces Proust to the writer Alphonse Daudet and his sons, Léon and Lucien, who will become close friends.
Proust accompanies his mother to the German spa Kreuznach, where he works "a lot," apparently on a long, ambitious novel whose hero is named Jean Santeuil. Proust will write drafts for Jean Santeuil until he abandons it in 1899.
Calmann-Lévy publishes Pleasures and Days.
Proust discovers the works of John Ruskin.
Proust attends Zola's trial, which inspires chapters of Jean Santeuil.
Proust abandons his novel to devote himself to translating Ruskin.
La Gazette des Beaux-Arts publishes part of the essay on Ruskin from Proust's preface to his translation of The Bible of Amiens.
Le Mercure de France publishes the second part of the preface Ruskin à Notre-Dame d'Amiens.
circa 1 May
Proust and his mother leave for Venice where they will meet Marie Nordlinger and Reynaldo Hahn. Nordlinger helps Proust correct the proofs of his essay for the Gazette des Beaux-Arts.
He visits The Hague, where he sees Vermeer's View of Delft. Of all the paintings he saw in Holland, he said that he liked this one best.
Dr. Proust suffers a stroke, from which he dies two days later.
Proust signs copies of La Bible d'Amiens, dedicated to his father.
Proust writes a long note for Sesame and Lilies, which seems to anticipate the structure of In Search of Lost Time.
His essay Sur la lecture appears in the Renaissance latine.
Proust mother dies of nephritis.
Sésame et les lys is published.
circa 8 October
Proust subleases his great uncle Louis Weil's apartment at 102, boulevard Haussmann, where he will write most of In Search of Lost Time.
4 or 5 August
Proust leaves for Cabourg, where he will vacation every summer at the Grand-Hôtel until 1914.
Proust, driven by chauffeur Alfred Agostinelli, with whom he later falls in love, visits churches in Bayeux, Caen, Balleroy, and Dives.
Le Figaro publishes Proust's article Impressions de route en automobile, in which he speaks of his excursions with Agostinelli and describes the steeples of Caen seen from the speeding car. He will use this episode for the steeples of Martinville in Swann's Way.
Proust prepares to write Robert et le chevreau, Maman part en voyage, the first known draft of In Search of Lost Time.
From February to November, Proust fills the first fourteen pages of the first notebook, known as The Notebook of 1908, with observations for the novel.
He writes the prologue to Against Sainte-Beuve.
He writes to Mme Straus that he has "just begun—and finished—a whole long novel." Calmette offers to publish the novel in installments in Le Figaro.
December Gallimard returns the typescript of the novel and informs Proust of the Nouvelle Revue Française's decision not to publish. Fasquelle also returns the typescript with a rejection letter.
February Proust learns that Ollendorff will not publish Swann's Way. He then entreats René Blum to ask Bernard Grasset to publish his book at the author's expense.
Du côté de chez Swann is published. In her husband's taxi, Céleste Albaret delivers signed copies of the book to Proust's friends. Céleste begins to come regularly to work at boulevard Haussmann.
André Gide writes to Proust that "The rejection of this book will remain the gravest mistake ever made by the NRF."
Gide informs Proust that the Nouvelle Revue Française is ready to assume publication of the remaining volumes of his novel.
Agostinelli drowns after his airplane crashes in the sea off Antibes. Unaware of the tragedy, Proust replies to a recent letter from Agostinelli. He will use passages from these letters
in Albertine disparue.
Germany declares war on France.
Proust sends Gallimard the manuscript d'À l'ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs, along with the first twenty pages of Le Côté de Guermantes. He says that he has the manuscript of the entire work. Proust will, however, continue to revise and expand the novel until his death.
The typesetting of À l'ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs is stopped due to the manpower shortage.
La Nouvelle Revue Française publishes in its first post-war edition an excerpt from Proust's novel.
À l'ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs goes on sale, along with Pastiches et Mélanges, a collection of parodies and essays, which he dedicates to Walter Berry, and a new edition
of Du côté de chez Swann.
À l'ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs wins the Prix Goncourt, France's most prestigious literary award.
In England, Charles Kenneth Scott Moncrieff signs a contract to translate Proust's novel into English.
Le Côté de Guermantes I is published.
Gallimard publishes Le Côte de Guermantes II — Sodom et Gomorrhe 1.
Publication of Sodome et Gomorrhe II.
Proust dies from pneumonia.
Publication of La Prisonnière.
Publication of Albertine disparue.
Publication of Le Temps retrouvé.