Just Look at This Photo of Proust Playing Air Guitar on a Tennis Racket

More

Is the late, great French novelist also the progenitor of every wannabe rock star's favorite pastime?

proustbig.jpg.jpg

Marcel Proust was a man ahead of his time. His innovative novel Remembrance of Things Past is, of course, well known. But did he also revolutionize air guitar? This excellent 1898 1891 photograph suggests he deserves some of the credit. That's the famous author, kneeling at center, ripping off some wicked imaginary riffs on a cat-gut racket.

Was Proust the first? There's actually a bit of an intellectual debate over the origin of air guitar. Some folks give the title to Joe Cocker's performance of "With a Little Help From My Friends at Woodstock:

Others give the credit to Bill Reed of 1950s vocal group the Diamonds. See Reed play a quick lick at about 0:39 of this video:

Blogger Michael Gilleland posits that Anthony Trollope captured a forerunner in 1855 (!), where character Septimus Harding plays some mean air cello. (What is it about novelists and air guitar?)

But the cello is decidedly not rock 'n' roll (John Cale excepted). So we're going to give credit to Proust.

Via The Times Literary Supplement

Jump to comments
Presented by

David A. Graham

David Graham is a senior associate editor at The Atlantic, where he oversees the Politics Channel. He previously reported for Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, and The National.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

A Delightful, Pixar-Inspired Cartoon About the Toys in Your Cereal Box

The story of an action figure and his reluctant sidekick, who trek across a kitchen in search of treasure.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Juice Cleanses: The Worst Diet

A doctor tries the ever-popular Master Cleanse. Sort of.

Video

Why Did I Study Physics?

Using hand-drawn cartoons to explain an academic passion

Video

What If Emoji Lived Among Us?

A whimsical ad imagines what life would be like if emoji were real.

Video

Living Alone on a Sailboat

"If you think I'm a dirtbag, then you don't understand the lifestyle."

Feature

The Future of Iced Coffee

Are artisan businesses like Blue Bottle doomed to fail when they go mainstream?

Writers

Up
Down

More in Entertainment

Just In