The Chairfather: Père Lachaise part III
About halfway down the block, look on the left for a little opening in between the families Rapilly and Bessine. Our next host is the third one down low on the left.
[5 SECOND PAUSE]
Marcel Proust was a Little Lord Fauntleroy, who longed to be Balzac. Unlike the prolific writer, who died 100000 francs in debt, Proust had no hardship to speak of, nor life experiences to relate. He woke up one day a 38-year-old idler still living with his rich parents, and decided to be creative.
Proust wore out countless paper sheets recounting the mundane visits of fellow members of the leisure class, like Georges Rodenbach, whom we met in Tour 2, or using run-on sentences describing non-events like the memory of a long-ago eaten madeleine pastry.
After spending five years completing the first of what would become seven volumes, he sought to be printed. Proust received dozens of rejection letters, some incredulous, like the publisher who wrote: "I can’t understand how a guy can take thirty pages to describe how he tosses and turns in bed before going off to sleep."
Money was no object, so he paid today's equivalent of €5400 to have Swann's Way published. Thousands more were spent to place positive reviews, which Proust wrote himself, in top newspapers like the Figaro.
Though born from false pretenses, Proust's work did find favor with some fellow authors who recognized a new and modern style to be admired, but not copied. Literature teachers have since become his staunchest proponents, staking careers on dissecting his prose. College students have been force-fed madeleines for a hundred years now.
If you're ready to move on, go back out to the cobbled Avenue Transversale #2, make a left and continue walking.