Valentin Louis Georges Eugène Marcel Proust (French pronunciation: ) (10 July 1871 – 18 November 1922) was a French novelist, essayist and critic, best known as the author of À la recherche du temps perdu (in English, In Search of Lost Time; earlier translated as Remembrance of Things Past), a monumental work of twentieth-century fiction published in seven parts from 1913 to 1927.
Proust was born in Auteuil (the southern sector of Paris's then-rustic 16th arrondissement) at the home of his great-uncle, 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 corresponds 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, Achille Adrien Proust, was a prominent pathologist and epidemiologist, responsible for studying and attempting to remedy the causes and movements of cholera through Europe and Asia; he was the author of many articles and books on medicine and hygiene. Proust's mother, Jeanne Clémence Weil, was the daughter of a rich and cultured Jewish family from Alsace . She was literate and well-read; her letters demonstrate a well-developed sense of humour, and her command of English was sufficient for her to provide the necessary impetus to her son's later attempts to translate John Ruskin.