27 Febrero 2017 17:49
Several days ago, an item of local news from Buenos Aires went viral: the article told of the arrest of a criminal gang led by one Jorge Luis Borges, namesake of the great Argentine author.
Back then we said that sometimes the ways of virality are mysterious. The latest trending news to shake up the literary world confirms this.
So what's it all about?
Quite simply, it's a clip – lasting just a few seconds – that seems to show Marcel Proust walking down some steps before getting lost in the crowd.
The footage was discovered by Jean-Pierre Sirois-Trahan, a film professor at Laval University in Quebec. Sirois-Trahan has a strange hobby: watching wedding videos of European royalty from the early twentieth century.
And that was how, whilst watching footage of Elaine Greffulhe's wedding in 1904, he spotted a man walking down the stairs who looked uncannily like the author of In Search of Lost Time.
So Sirois-Trahan shared his finding with literary scholars who were extremely excited about the discovery of the only known film footage of the novelist in existence (which, by the way, you can see in The Guardian).
Although the figure's identity has yet to be confirmed, the Proustian community is optimistic that it's him. The woman getting married was the daughter of the Comtesse de Greffulhe, who served as a model for the Duchesse de Guermantes in In Search of Lost Time. Also, the figure in the video is dressed precisely how Proust was known to dress at the time: in the style of an English dandy, while the other male guests are dressed in traditional black ties and top hats.
The video has already done the rounds of Facebook and Twitter, popping up on the timelines and feeds of literature geeks everywhere.
There's even a GIF to mark the momentous discovery.
— julien cadot (@juliencdt) February 15, 2017
Does any of this really matter?
But then again, there must be room for levity in this world. As the French surrealists said: 'the superfluous presumes the necessary'.