Marcel Proust (1871–1922) is generally considered the greatest French novelist of the twentieth century. He is most famous for introducing the use of psychoanalysis (treatment of mental disorders by talking about personal experience), cyclical time (cycles of nature), and various other themes to the modern novel. Proust's semi-autobiographical works, which trace the main character's development through life stages, rely more on interior monologue (expression of a character's inner thoughts) than on a story with a structured plot. The writer is best remembered for his multivolume work, A la recherche du temps perdu (1954), which was published in English as Remembrance of Things Past. His other novel, Within a Budding Grove (1919), won the Goncourt Prize, a major French literary award.
In the mid-1890s Proust joined other prominent artists to form a protest group known as the Dreyfusards. They were staunch supporters of Alfred Dreyfus (1859–1935), a Jewish officer in the French army, who was wrongfully accused of treason (betrayal of one's country) and imprisoned on Devil's Island. The Dreyfusards saw this as an anti-Semitic (anti-Jewish) action.
Further Information: Barker, R. H. Marcel Proust: A Biography. New York: Criterion Books, 1958; Hindus, M. Reader's Guide to Marcel Proust. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Cudahy, 1962; Marcel Proust. [Online] Available http://www.proust.com/, October 23, 2000; "Marcel Proust." Electric Library. [Online] Available http://www.encyclopedia.com/articles/10573.html, October 23, 2000.