Today in History: Nov. 16

For a long time I used to go to bed early. Sometimes, when I had put out my candle, my eyes would close so quickly that I had not even time to say “I’m going to sleep.” And half an hour later the thought that it was time to go to sleep would awaken me; I would try to put away the book which, I imagined, was still in my hands, and to blow out the light; I had been thinking all the time, while I was asleep, of what I had just been reading, but my thoughts had run into a channel of their own, until I myself seemed actually to have become the subject of my book …—Marcel Proust, the opening of Swann’s Way, transl. by C. K. Scott Moncrieff

On this date in 1913, French publisher Grasset published Swann’s Way (Du côté de chez Swann), the first volume of Marcel Proust’s novel À la recherche du temps perdu, or In Search of Lost Time. (For decades, readers in English knew it as Remembrance of Things Past.)

Proust struggled to find a publisher for his work. Three prominent houses rejected it; Grasset only published it under an agreement with Proust that he would pay the cost of publishing it.

Proust’s work is not the longest novel, but it may be the longest very popular novel or the most popular very long one. It took a decade and a half to publish the entire work: seven volumes, 4000+ pages, 2000+ characters.

* * * *
Dr. Bob Smith died on this date in 1950. Clark Gable died on this date in 1960. Edie Sedgwick died 45 years ago today. Edie Sedgwick and a (mostly) silent Andy Warhol in a 1965 appearance on The Merv Griffin Show:

Milton Friedman died 10 years ago today.
* * * *
W. C. Handy was born on this date in 1873. In 1949, he appeared on Ed Sullivan’s television show, Toast of the Town, and played his composition, “Saint Louis Blues.” That appearance:

George S. Kaufman was born in 1889 on this date. Daws Butler was born 100 years ago today. Butler’s many voices:

Jose Saramago was born on this date in 1922. Chinua Achebe was born on this date in 1930. Hubert Sumlin was born 85 years ago today.

* * * *
Elizabeth Drew is 81 today. Donna McKechnie is 74. Griff Rhys Jones is 62. Terry Labonte is 60. Dwight Gooden is 52. Diana Krall is 52. Maggie Gyllenhaal is 39.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


  1. Lana · November 16, 2016

    I enjoyed this, thank you. Especially after I watched Factory Girl for the first time recently.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Itching for Hitching · November 16, 2016

    Thanks for the W C Handy clip. I’ve been trying to master St Louis Blues on ukulele for years.

    Liked by 1 person

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