Jacques Géraud

The Speaker

Jacques Géraud was born in Lot-et-Garonne. He attended preparatory classes (khâgne) at the Louis-Le-Grand secondary school in Paris, and was then accepted to the École Normale Supérieure de Saint-Cloud. After receiving his aggregation (certification for university teaching) in French language and literature, he taught until 2007 at the University of Sfax (Tunisia) and in Saint-Germain-en-Laye.

He has published fiction, including novels, short stories, and tales, in Editions P.O.L and Presses Universitaires de France (PUF). He wrote the preface to the Marquis de Sade’s Philosophie dans le boudoir (Éditions P.O.L.).

Two of his books are series of short comic and fantasy fiction, based on Proust’s work: Proustites (Éditions P.O.L), staged by the actor and director Xavier Brière, alumni of the National Theatre in Strasbourg (TNS) and performed in Paris, Avignon and at the French Institute/Alliance Française de New-York (1997); and Petits proustillants (Éditions PUF) which transported the Proustian narrator into the 21st century to have him experience new adventures,  from A to Z, from Adidas to Zappinge.


In Search of In Search of Lost Time
In Search of Lost Time is the greatest registered monument –somewhat X-rated – or rather unclassifiable monument of French literature. If it were a vegetable, it would be a cauliflower, a fractal object in which one part is a microcosm of the whole.  If it were a painting, it would be Les noces de Cana, by Veronese, featuring 132 characters, including Christ, alias Proust. If it were a French word, it would be the longest one – anticonstitutionnellement - long as his book, his sentences, stretched out on a Procrustean bed by the author whose name was as short as his asthmatic breathing.

Every great writer is at the cross-roads of two genealogies, and proceeds from their union: first, the genealogy of the flesh, mom and dad – for Proust, especially mom, the quintessential Jewish mother, who was to die in 1905. “We kill our mothers,” he says, crossing Œdipus and Orestes. On the paternal side, our ashamed homosexual momma’s boy, rejects the real father, freeing up the place of the Father. Thus Proust’s grievous Christian body will beget the glorious body of the work, which was to go from near failure to worldwide glory.   

The “Sodomite Jew,” excommunicated by the good Catholic Claude, the author who, according to Sartre, “thought himself bourgeois, became allied with bourgeois morality”(sic), so dazzled Virginia Woolf the reader that he was to drive Virginia Woolf the writer to despair : “My only great affair was Proust.” After him, what is there left to write?

Proust as the heir of the 19th century and mutant of the 20th.  Jacques Géraud will also discuss the ambiguous relationship between Proust and women, from his mother to his grandmother. He will show the obvious or more subtle lines between Proust’s life and the writing of the work. 

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