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Marcel Proust

He developed had a close relationship with his mother. In order to appease his father, who insisted that he pursue a career, he obtained a volunteer position at a library. After exerting considerable effort, he obtained a sick leave which was to extend for several years until he was considered to have resigned. He did not move from his parents' apartment until after both were dead.

James Joyce

Supposedly studying medicine in Paris, in reality he squandered money his family could ill afford. He returned home after a few months, when his mother was diagnosed with cancer. She finally passed into a coma and died; he refused to kneel with other members of the family praying at her bedside, and after her death he drank heavily.

Jorge Luis Borges

He was devoted to his father. The same year his father died he suffered a severe head wound: during treatment, he nearly died of septicemia. While recovering from the accident, he began tinkering with a new style of writing, for which he would become famous.

Graham Greene

His parents were first cousins, members of a family that included brewery owners, bankers, and businessmen. Bullied and depressed as a schoolboy, he attempted suicide several times, some, he claimed, by Russian roulette.

Franz Kafka

Despite his fear of being perceived as both physically and mentally repulsive, he impressed others with his boyish, neat, and austere good looks, a quiet and cool demeanor, obvious intelligence and dry sense of humor. He suffered from migraines, insomnia, constipation, boils, and other ailments, all usually brought on by excessive stresses and strains. He attempted to counteract all of this by a regimen of naturopathic treatments, such as a vegetarian diet and the consumption of large quantities of unpasteurized milk.

Alfred Jarry

He developed a staccato, nasal vocal delivery, which emphasized each syllable (even the silent ones). He enjoyed ridiculous and pedantic figures of speech; for example, he referred to himself using the royal we, and called the wind "that which blows" and the bicycle he rode everywhere "that which rolls." He lived in a flat which the landlord had created through the unusual expedient of subdividing a larger flat by means of a horizontal rather than a vertical partition. Guests had to bend or crouch.


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