He was one of five children. Three of his brothers, Claude, Charles and Didier, also had distinguished careers. He studied rhetoric under the Jesuit Father Coffard, who discovered his talent for Latin verse. Victor, Paris , in , and made his profession the next year. He was a respected poet in the Latin language, writing under the name of Santolius Victorinus.
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After I read the preface I realized Jean Santeuil would normally be read after In Search of Lost Time because its considered by many to be Prousts trial run, so to speak, for the latter. Prousts writing hadnt yet evolved, many say, into the refined style for which hes known.
Also, its believed Jean Santeuil was neither edited nor revised which explains some considerable repetition in places, repetition that feels as if he dwells on a thought. This book was my first exposure to Marcel Proust. In Holidays section II he explores how music invokes involuntary memory; in Impressions Regained section VI a smell reminds him of a whole period of his life.
Places have a physiognomy of their own and also that of a person — a person can be recognized in a place, he says. But Proust recognized the phenomena long ago. An idea I liked: In Separation section I reading poetry inspired in Jean words to express thoughts of his own that until then he himself had barely understood. It was as if the poets he read understood his thoughts better than he did, and handed them back to him by giving him words. Imagine this review, which is words, written as a single sentence.
The book is stronger on prose, poetry-like passages, philosophy, and weaker on story line. In this sense, the book reads like a diary. The only real thread is Jean, as he ages and matures. Long sentences and repetition can make Jean Santeuil a tedious read at times, but the rewards are there.
Jean-Baptiste de Santeul
Jean Santeuil Quotes