Marcel Proust was a French novelist, critic, and essayist best known for his monumental novel à la recherche du temps perdu (In Search of Lost Time; earlier translated as Remembrance of Things Past), published in seven parts between 1913 and 1927. He is considered by many to be one of the greatest authors of all time.
Proust was born in Auteuil (the south-western sector of Paris' then-rustic 16th arrondissement) at the home of his great-uncle on 10 July 1871, two months after the Treaty of Frankfurt formally ended the Franco-Prussian War. His birth took place during the violence that surrounded the suppression of the Paris Commune, and his childhood corresponded with the consolidation of the French Third Republic. Much of In Search of Lost Time concerns the vast changes, most particularly the decline of the aristocracy and the rise of the middle classes that occurred in France during the Third Republic and the fin de siècle.
Proust's father, Adrien Proust, was a prominent pathologist and epidemiologist, studying cholera in Europe and Asia. He was the author of numerous articles and books on medicine and hygiene. Proust's mother, Jeanne Clémence Weil, was the daughter of a wealthy Jewish family from Alsace. Literate and well-read, she demonstrates a well-developed sense of humor in her letters, and her command of English was sufficient to help with her son's translations of John Ruskin. Proust was raised in his father's Catholic faith. He was baptized (on 5 August 1871, at the church of Saint-Louis d'Antin) and later confirmed as a Catholic but he never formally practiced that faith.