A new book tells the story of how a Parisian perfume magnate persuaded Proust’s family not to destroy his effects, among which were his manuscripts and famous overcoat. “Proust’s Overcoat [a new book on Proust by Italian author Stephanie LaCava] tells the story of Jacques Guérin, a Parisian perfume magnate, who was obsessed with the works of Marcel Proust. In 1929, through a chance connection, he met Proust’s family, only to discover that they intended to destroy the author’s notebooks, letters, and manuscripts. Guérin ingratiated himself with Proust’s heirs, and through bribery and kindness, amassed a collection of Proust’s belongings and manuscripts, saving it from destruction. I recently exchanged e-mails with Lorenza Foschini, an Italian journalist, about her book.”
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