The Guardian and the New York Times have shared what may be the only film footage of Marcel Proust in existence — if indeed it’s Marcel Proust. Jean-Pierre Sirois-Trahan, a professor at Canada’s Laval University, seems to have found footage of the In Search of Lost Time author walking down the steps of Paris’ Church of the Madeleine (a thematically fitting cookie name for a church if ever there was one) at a wedding, wagging his head a bit as he does it. And…well that’s pretty much it, as this is archival silent film footage that Marcel Proust may just happen to arbitrarily be traversing from 1904.
Proust would have been 34 at the time the film was shot. Professor William C. Carter, a Proust biographer, however, did have some doubts about the Proustiness of the person in the film, saying that the bowler-hatted man looks a bit young for 34. But, according to Carter, who spoke with the Times, Proust was said to be in attendance at the wedding — that between Armand de Guiche and Elaine Greffulhe, daughter of the Countess of Greffulhe, who was among the inspirations for the In Search of Lost Time character Oriane de Guermantes. (A high society character with whom Proust’s self-reflexive narrator becomes infatuated as a child.)While most of the other wedding guests descending the stairs are seen with significant others, the potential-Proust walks alone.
If it is indeed Proust, this would be a pretty huge discovery. Unfortunately, proving it in total certainty is largely unlikely. Here he is, Proust or not (via the Guardian):