Two Hundred and Sixty-Seven Plants in the Writings of Marcel Proust (1871-1922): A Documentary Interpretation of the Botanical Influences on His Literature

Author: Morley, Brian Derek
Year:2012
Pages:548
ISBN:0-7734-3068-7
978-0-7734-3068-6
Price:299.95
The most complete scholarly work to study representations of plants in the writings of Marcel Proust. Proust took simple inspiration from the gardens he observed in his daily life. This book takes a different approach because it is based on the author’s fiction and correspondence. It also explains how Proust was a chronic asthmatic, whose passion for plants actually caused him to suffer. Proust used plants as a creative tool, yet they also led to his physical decline.

Reviews

“This book on plants associated with the writings of Marcel Proust is altogether different…it is accessible and amusing at times because that is how Proust would have it.”

-Prof. Stephen D. Hopper,
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew


“This is a most impressive work. To the best of my knowledge, no scholar has ever attempted such a detailed analysis of Proust’s botanical imagery, and indeed, none but a botanist could have done so.”

-Ernest M. Wiltshire,
Co-Author: Freedmen of Barbados


“The book amounts to a mental mapping of the ecology of one of the twentieth century’s most fertile minds.”

- Martin Brayne,
Author, The Greatest Storm
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Table of Contents

Analytical Table of Contents

Foreword by Professor Stephen D. Hopper i
Preface v
Acknowledgements ix

Introduction 1

Chapter 1 Childhood 13
Auteuil 14
Illiers 15
Neighbours 17
The Pré-Catelan 21
Orris root 27
Flowering currant 28
Snowball tree 30
Hawthorn 31
Lilac 36
Strawberry 39
Violets and pansies 40
Some roses from childhood 43
Peas 44
Garden nasturtium 45
Water plants 46
The river and its plants 48
Other plants from childhood 50
Garden features 54
Interiors 55
Paris 58
Champs-Élysées 61
Bois de Boulogne 66
Guermantes gardens 66
School 68

Chapter 2 Adolescence 75
Les Plaisirs... 77
Relationships 77
The countryside 80
Family life in Paris 81
The Tuileries 84
The Louvre 84
Versailles 84
Bois de Boulogne 85
The Swanns 87
Illiers 92
Dieppe 95
Balbec 97
Cabourg 102
Brittany 103
Railways leading to the coast 104
Rivebelle Restaurant 106
The little band of girls 106
Elstir 110
Albertine 113

Chapter 3 A camellia button-hole period 117
Les Frémonts 118
La Raspelière 119
The interior of la Raspelière 123
Mme Verdurin, Elstir and Mme Swann 125
Professor Brichot 127
The garden at la Raspelière 133
Féterne 135
Château de Réveillon 137
Country walks 139
The interior at Réveillon 143
The garden at Réveillon 147
The roses at Réveillon 148
Reynaldo Hahn 154
Beg-Meil Apple blossom 156
Wildflowers in Brittany 160

Chapter 4 The demon of generosity 167
Florists 170
Odette de Crécy 171
Odette’s flowers 173
The Guermantes family 181
Madame de Villeparisis 184
The Duc and Duchesse de Guermantes 187
Princesse de Guermantes 195
Princesse de Parme 197
Montesquiou and Charlus 200

Chapter 5 Living a life 215
Provins 216
Orléans 216
Doncières 217
Saint-Loup and Rachel 218
Paris 221
Mme Céphise Desroches 222
New people, old places 224
The arts 228
Versailles revisited 230
Bois de Boulogne 232
A Florentine fantasy 233
Domesticity 234
Waking and sleeping 236
The coffee habit 237
Food 240
Asparagus 243
Motoring 247
Travels 249
Health 256

Chapter 6 A Ruskin interlude 263
Marie Nordlinger 264
La Bible d’Amiens 267
Sésame et les Lys 279
Tree of Jesse 283
Flowers and painters 285
Proust’s inner self 291
Some writers 292

Chapter 7 Human herbalist-moral botanist 295
Taxonomies 297
Boissier 300
Sainte-Beuve 301
The Baron’s pears and roses 302
The lone Digitalis 305
The bonsai manchineel 306
The historian of the Fronde 309
Two unnamed shrubs 310
Terminologies 312
Technicalities 315
Inheritance 316
Alternation of Generations 316
Love’s lessons 319
Philadelphus 319
Andrée 321
Jupien 324
Unisexuality 326
Hermaphrodity 328
Polymorphic flowers 332
Plant collections 335

Chapter 8 Time...and time again 339
Anna de Noailles 339
Balzac 344
Street cries 347
Love-apples 351
The Great War 353
A telescope fixed on time 364
Involuntary memory 368
Epiphanies 372
Déjà-vu 376

Postscript 379

Illustrated Appendix 389
List of Abbreviations 419

Notes 420
Notes to Preface, Introduction and Chapters 421
Bibliography 445

Indices 455
Index to plant names, terms and topics 455
Index to people and places 493