This map plots the settings and references in In Search of Lost Time (Vol I): Swann's Way

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Combray
Illiers-Combray
Public DomainIlliers-Combray

The village of Combray is based on Illiers (now Illiers-Combray) in North-Central France, and on Auteuil, the village near Paris where Proust was born, which has now been absorbed as a suburb of the city.

Proust portrays Combray as an old-fashioned society of rigid social distinctions and long-preserved traditions, providing its citizens with a sense of comfortable security, but also locking them in the past. It is associated with the narrator's family, and his childhood, as opposed to Paris, which is associated with the swift changes and excitements of the narrator's adult life.

 The village is also associated with a pastoral, idyllic conception of the countryside, as seen in the two country walks, Swann's Way and the Guermantes Way, taken by the narrator and his family. His wish to describe the beauty of the flowering hawthorns and scenery punctuated by distant church spires, is an important part of origin of the narrator's wish to become a writer.

 The real village of Illiers-Combray has a population of 3,178. It added the name 'Combray' in 1971 as a part of the centenary celebrations of Proust's birth, and now has a Proust Museum located in the house of Jules and Elisabeth Amiot, Proust's uncle and aunt.

 

View of the Church in Illiers-Combray
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeView of the Church in Illiers-Combray - Credit: Oxxo
Proust Museum
Public DomainProust Museum