Saturday, June 26, 2010

On Material Belongings

I recently read a tiny book entitled Proust's Overcoat, originally written by Lorenza Foschini, translated by Eric Karpeles --

This slim volume recounts the obsessive need of collector Jacques Guerin to possess the former belongings of Marcel Proust. Letters, first editions, furniture... anything that was once important to, or written by Proust, Guerin wants to see, touch, and experience.

Basically, Guerin was rich, having inherited a perfume company his mother made great, and he thought Proust was a genius. Guerin also met Marcel's brother, having become ill, and luckily having physician Robert Proust visit his house to check on his health.

This contact with Robert Proust, and seeing a draft of Marcel's work, inspired a passion in Guerin to see all of Marcel's things.

The overcoat, being one of Marcel Proust's trademarks, basically something Marcel LIVED in, even in warm weather, is the coup de grace.

This book is an interesting look at what the material things left behind say about the person who used to own them, and the importance of those belongings to the people who cared about you.

It was interesting, it was informative, and it read very quickly.

I think this book would be great for Proust admirers, or as a quirky gift to someone else. It will be released in August of this year.

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