Friday, April 20, 2012

The Characters in "Ten Blocks on the Camino Real"

Baron de Charlus
, in full Baron Palamède de Charlus, is a fictional character, a licentious gay man, in the seven-volume novel Remembrance of Things Past (also translated as In Search of Lost Time) by Marcel Proust. The baron, the nephew of Mme de Villeparisis and a member of the influential Guermantes family, is first introduced in the second novel, Within a Budding Grove (1919).
The model for the fictional character is the real-life Robert de Montesquiou, who was a scion of the famous French Montesquiou-Fézensac Family. He was a distant nephew of Charles de Batz-Castelmore d'Artagnan, the model for Dumas' Musketeer. His paternal grandfather was an aide-de-camp to Napoleon and grand officer of the Légion d'honneur; his father was a successful stockbroker who left a substantial fortune. Robert's cousin, Élisabeth, comtesse Greffulhe, was one of Proust's models for the duchesse de Guermantes.
He had social relationships and collaborations with many celebrities of the Fin de siècle period, including writers Alphonse Daudet, Edmond de Goncourt, Gabriele d'Annunzio and Jean Cocteau, and actresses Eleonora Duse and Sarah Bernhardt.
A portrait of him titled Arrangement in Black and Gold: Comte Robert de Montesquiou-Fezensac was painted by his close friend, and model for many of his eccentric mannerisms, James Abbott McNeill Whistler.
He wrote the verses found in the optional choral parts of Gabriel Fauré's Pavane.
One author provides the following verbal portrait of de Montesquiou: "Tall, black-haired, rouged, Kaiser-moustached, he cackled and screamed in weird attitudes, giggling in high soprano, hiding his little black teeth behind an exquisitely gloved hand -- the poseur absolute. He was said to have slept with Sarah Bernhardt and vomited for a week afterwards."
Adapted from Wikipedia

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