Three ‘Nostalgicians’: Hardy, Marcel Proust and Alain-Fournier

  • Peter J. Casagrande
Part of the Macmillan Hardy Studies book series (MHS)


In the late summer of 1909, as an oft-told story goes, Marcel Proust secluded himself in his rooms at 102, Boulevard Haussmann, Paris, to devote himself to the writing of Remembrance of Things Past, the masterpiece he had begun some two years before, would essentially complete by 1912, and would continue work on until his death in November 1922. It is now clear that, in various forms, Remembrance had been under way well before autumn 1909: in the never-completed novel Jean Santeuil, written between 1896 and 1900; in several of the pieces collected under the titles Pleasures and Days in 1896; in Proust’s translations (and prefaces to the translations) of John Ruskin, completed in 1904 and 1906; and in Against Sainte Beuve, a long critical essay written in 1908.1 In the years between the publication of Pleasures and Days and the completion of the first version of Remembrance in spring 1912, Proust, in a wide and varied course of reading, had found especially attractive three English writers: Ruskin, whom he for a time championed for his devotion to art and his love of the past; George Eliot, the English novelist whose treatment of time and memory, particularly in her autobiographical Mill on the Floss, Proust found instructive to his own effort at the recovery of time past; and, somewhat surprisingly, Thomas Hardy, who in the 1890s, when Proust was getting under way as a novelist, was bringing his own career in fiction to a most impressive end — with Tess of the d’Urbervilles, Jude the Obscure and The Well-Beloved.


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  1. 1.
    See Walter A. Strauss, Proust and Literature: The Novelist as Critic (Cambridge, Mass., 1957) esp. ch. 1CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. L. A. Bisson, ‘Proust and Hardy: Incidence or Coincidence’, in Studies in French Language, Literature, and History Presented to R. L. Graeme Ritchie (Cambridge, Mass., 1949) pp. 24–34; and Painter, Proust: A Biography, II, esp. pp. 118–28.Google Scholar
  3. 2.
    Léon Boucher, ‘Le Roman pastoral en Angleterre’, Revue des deux mondes, 12 (1875) 838–66. Here and elsewhere, translations from the French are my own, unless otherwise indicated.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Henri Davray, ‘Lettres Anglais’, Mercure de France, 46 (1903) 264–5.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Firmin Roz, ‘Thomas Hardy’, Revue des deux mondes, 34 (1906) 176–207.Google Scholar
  6. 13.
    See, for example, P.-E. Robert, Marcel Proust: lecteur des Anglo-Saxons (Paris, 1976) pp. 121–40.Google Scholar
  7. 14.
    The remarks that follow are indebted to Painter, Proust: A Biography, II, 1–179; also P. A. Spalding, A Reader’s Handbook to Proust, rev. R. H. Cortie (London, 1975).Google Scholar
  8. 16.
    Marcel Proust, Remembrance of Things Past, tr. C. K. Scott Moncrieff, rev. T. Kilmartin, III (New York, 1981) 382. All quotations from the novel (cited as RTP) are from this edition. Subsequent references appear in the text.Google Scholar
  9. 29.
    See Dr Milton M. Miller, Nostalgia: A Psychoanalytic Study of Marcel Proust (Boston, Mass., 1956) p. 120. Painter advances the same view.Google Scholar
  10. 39.
    Jacques Rivière and Alain-Fournier, Correspondance 1905–1914 (Paris, 1948) I, 110.Google Scholar
  11. Cf. Blanche’s account of his conversation with Proust in Mes Modèles, p. 80. In these remarks on Alain-Fournier’s life, I am indebted to Robert Gibson, The Land without a Name: Alain-Fournier and his World (London, 1975);Google Scholar
  12. also Jean Loize, Alain-Fournier: sa vie et ‘Le Grand Meaulnes’ (Paris, 1968).Google Scholar
  13. 44.
    The analysis that follows is indebted to Robert Giannoni, ‘Alain-Fournier et Thomas Hardy’, Revue de littèrature comparée, 42 (1968) 407–26. Le Grand Meaulnes has been translated as The Wanderer, or the End of Youth by Lowell Bair, with an afterword by John Fowles (New York, 1971).Google Scholar
  14. 50.
    See Lorna Sage, ‘John Fowles: A Profile’, New Review, 1 (1974) 32.Google Scholar
  15. 53.
    Hardy’s much-annotated copy of Hedgcock can be seen at the Dorset County Museum, Dorchester; see Gittings, Thomas Hardy’s Later Years, pp. 187–8. See also Peter J. Casagrande, ‘“Old Tom and New Tom”: Hardy and his Biographers’, in Thomas Hardy Annual No. 1, ed. Norman Page (London, 1982) pp. 1–32.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Peter J. Casagrande 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter J. Casagrande
    • 1
  1. 1.University of KansasUSA

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