Madame Proust: A Biography

Elisabeth Ladenson writes:

ma chere petite maman...

The heroic image of Proust in his cork-lined room, valiantly racing against death to finish his masterpiece, is now so ingrained that it eclipses that of the spoiled 30-year-old who left messages for his mother complaining about noise made by the servants; bullied her into throwing dinner parties for people who sneered at the family; and, later, challenged the father of a young man he had flirted with to a duel because the son had failed to respond with sufficient indignation to rumours about Proust’s sexual tendencies.

(LRB 8 May 2008)