The Maison de Tante Léonie and its garden in Illiers-Combray is also known as the Musée Marcel Proust. The house belonged to Proust’s paternal Aunt Élisabeth and her husband Jules Amiot. Proust stayed here in his youth when his family visited the little town, which is the birthplace of Proust’s father, Dr. Adrien Proust, a distinguished physician.
Jules Amiot also created the Pré Catelan Garden in Illiers-Combray, also known as the Jardin Marcel Proust. The house and its gardens are models for the similar house and gardens at Combray in Proust novel.
Photographing Literary Landscapes
In 1913, Marcel Proust published Swann’s Way, the first part of his monumental novel In Search of Lost Time. He worked on his book for over fourteen years, writing seven volumes and creating many unforgettable characters. His novel encompasses many themes, love and jealousy, the snobbery of high society, the dangers of mistaking Eros for art, the stirrings of memory and the unstoppable nature of time. Since its publication, this vast novel continues to delight and inspire readers throughout the world.
The scenes depicted by Proust in the novel captivate his readers so much that many travel to visit the places that inspired him. These literary landscapes are to be found in Paris, Illiers-Combray, and Cabourg. I admire a writer’s ability to see a real object or place and make it visible to others through words. By using photography, I can return to the location that inspired the writer and capture the same landscapes as they continue to exist in time. The resulting juxtaposition of reality and art is a phenomenon that I find endlessly fascinating.