One of the most enigmatic and contradictory literary geniuses ever to have lived, Marcel Proust is immortalized in his own mammoth autobiography entitled, 'Remembrance of Things Past', a burgeoning 3000-page recount of the doings and dreams of the upper classes intermingled with singular homosexuality and ever-sensitive inner probing.
Indeed, Neville Jason's biography is thoroughly entertaining for providing a singular insight into the countless parallels and byways of the author's mis-en-scenes and affairs which form the backbone of his work. The closeness to his mother, his undisguised flirtations with Reynaldo Hahn and Alfred Agostinelli, the singular appreciation of nature and exotic beauty, all these and more find almost exact parallels in Proust's literary work.
The biography is almost perfectly constructed, as in all of Proust's mammoth creations and immortal characters, it almost reads like an indelible masterpiece. Jason's French is absolutely superb and his superb voice takes us to all those legendary places no longer with us, Cabourg, 102, Boulevard Haussmann, Tansonville, Meseglises and all those villas that are truly now in lost time. Characters pop up all over the place and now, since all are long gone, this biography serves to immortalize them in our eyes, since we can only know what Proust wanted to say through his writings.
I thought the production rather lacking in musical content and the excerpts featuring Hahn singing are in very bad sound, obviously understandable since they date from 1909! Otherwise, the voices in addition to Jason's are quite superb, it is almost like having a window into the past and ghosts are speaking to you again as if they are once again in the room with you.
It was a wonder that Charles A. Scott-Moncrief translated the immortal 'A' La Rechercher du Temps Perdu', for by that mammoth task he brought the novel to readers who could not understand perhaps, all the subtleties and intricacies of the French language. And Neville Jason's biography is another huge step forward in the understanding of Marcel Proust, a genius of sorts who uncannily predicted the very scene which would follow his death in his own masterpiece.
They buried him, but all through the night and morning, in the lighted windows, his books arranged three by three, kept watch like angels without spread wings, as if they were, for him which was no more, the symbol of his resurrection.
Copyright © 2002 by Gerald Fenech.