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Marcel Proust in El Paso

Valentin Louis Georges Eugene Marcel Proust was born in the 16th arrondissement of Paris to a prosperous Catholic-Jewish family. His father was a well-respected pathologist and epidemiologist. His mother was from a cultured and moneyed Jewish family. Young Marcel suffered from asthma and was considered to be a sickly child. Despite often missing school, he excelled in his literature studies. In his late teenage years, he developed a reputation as somewhat aloof, only interested in what bettered his own aspirations. Nevertheless, he was a gifted writer, penning a society column while still in his teens and, with the help of his mother and others, translating some of John Ruskin’s work from English to French. In 1909 he began writing his signature work, A la recherche du temps perdu, originally known in the United States and England as Remembrance of Things Past, but now known as In Search of Lost Time. The 3,200- to 4,300-page book was published in seven volumes from 1913 to 1927 (three volumes published posthumously). Its 1.5 million words make it one of the longest novels ever written. The Paris newspaper Le Monde ranks In Search of Lost Time as the second best book of all time. The first English book on Le Monde’s list is John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, which is ranked seventh.

Proust’s personal life is somewhat of a curiosity. He lived with his parents in their apartment until both of them died, his father in 1903 and his mother in 1905. Proust was what is called today a closeted homosexual but was one of the first mainstream writers to mention homosexuality in a book. {In Search of Lost Time features a licentious gay man named Baron de Charlus). Proust’s mother left him a substantial inheritance that he was able to live well on, but he spent the last few years of his life mostly in his apartment writing as his health deteriorated. He finally succumbed to a pulmonary abscess compounded by pneumonia. Proust’s original grave at Pere-Lachaise deteriorated beyond repair and has been replaced with a simple vault.

Washington appointed the first Cabinet, with Alexander Hamilton serving as secretary of the treasury, Thomas Jefferson as secretary of state, and Henry Knox as secretary of war. He chose the site of the new national capital, in the city that would become Washington, D.C. During his two terms in office, Washington faced the difficult diplomatic problem of dealing with the French, at that time in the throes of their own violent national revolution. El Paso Metro Map In 1794, Washington suppressed the so-called Whiskey Rebellion of farmers in western Pennsylvania, who opposed taxes on distilled spirits. Once again, in 1797, Washington showed his character by leaving the presidency after serving two terms.

His was a rare act in world history and one that helps to make the case for Country exceptionalism: How many other countries have been blessed with a leader who could retire at the height of his powers? In his farewell address to the nation, Washington emphasized the need to avoid the factionalism of political parties and the entanglements of international alliances. He enjoined the Country people to remember that: ‘Tis substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule extends with more or less force to every species of free Government. Washington died at Mount Vernon on December 14, 1799. Mitchell McNaylor See also: Army, British; Continental Congress, Second; French and Indian War; Maps and Surveys; Planters; Revolutionary War.

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