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Award-winning French author to lecture about Proust's mother

Andrea Lynn, Humanities Editor

Released 9/27/2007

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Evelyne Bloch-Dano, the author of “Madame Proust: A Biography,” will give a lecture about her new book Oct. 15 on the U. of I. campus.

Bloch-Dano’s talk, which begins at 4 p.m., will be in the Lucy Ellis Lounge of the Foreign Languages Building, 707 S. Mathews Ave., Urbana. The author, a native of France, will deliver her lecture in English. The event is free and open to the public.

A companion exhibit of documents drawn from the U. of I. Library’s premier Proust collection also will be on display in The Rare Book & Manuscript Library, room 346 of the University Library, 1408 W. Gregory Drive, Urbana. It also is free and open to the public. Caroline Szylowicz, the librarian of the Kolb-Proust Archive, will curate the display.

“Madame Proust” initially was published in French in 2004. Like many of her other literary biographies, it won several prizes in France. Alice Kaplan translated the English edition of the book, which is to be released Oct. 1 by the University of Chicago Press.

Madame Proust was Jeanne Weil Proust, the mother of the great French writer, Marcel Proust, and a figure who had a strong influence on her son’s literary career.

Among other things, she “inspired the mother and grandmother characters in ‘In Search of Lost Time,’ ” Szylowicz said.

Well-educated and well-read, Jeanne Proust was famous for citing from authors such as Molière, La Fontaine, Racine and Madame de Sévigné. “She peppered her letters with these quotations, and her son adopted that technique in his writing,” Szylowicz said.

The U. of I. French department is sponsor of the event.

More information about the author and the lecture is on the Alliance Française Web site,