The greatest burden for Claude Mauriac (mawr-yahk) in becoming a highly successful literary critic and novelist was having to labor under the enormous reputation of his renowned father, the French novelist and Nobel laureate François Mauriac, who was the leading Roman Catholic novelist and French spokesman for conservative causes of the early twentieth century. Claude Mauriac was brought up in a home of wealth, fame, and privilege in the exclusive Passy section of Paris. He shared childhood and early adolescent enthusiasms for flying with his closest friend, Bertrand Gay-Lussac who, at age fourteen, died suddenly of mastoiditis. Gay-Lussac’s death scarred Claude Mauriac for the rest of his life; time, mortality, and death became the principal themes he addressed in his writing. Perhaps another reason for his preoccupation with time was his 1951 marriage to Marie-Claude Mante, the grand-niece of novelist Marcel Proust. Proust’s seven-volume À la recherche du temps perdu (1913-1927; Remembrance of Things Past, 1922-1931)—his attempt to redeem humanity from the devastating effects of time—became the model for Mauriac’s ten-volume grand collage Le Temps immobile (time immobilized).
Mauriac never seriously attempted to write under the shadow of his famous novelist father. He attained a doctorate from the prestigious University of Paris Faculty of Law School in 1943. He never practiced law, however; instead, he became involved in journalism, working throughout his life as a regular columnist for Figaro (from 1946 to 1977) and as a film critic for Figaro Litteraire (from 1947 to 1972). Though an avowed agnostic and political leftist, in 1944 he was appointed personal secretary to Charles de Gaulle, an appointment he held until 1949. De Gaulle became an alternate father figure to Claude Mauriac; Mauriac began a lifelong practice of keeping journals in which he...
(The entire section is 788 words.)