“A closed world”: Pierre de Coubertin as a possible guest in the Proustian Salons in Paris


  • Natalia Camps Y Wilant Independent sports and art historian


Pierre de Coubertin, Comtesse de Greffulhe, Marcel Proust, salons in Paris, networks


In 1893, the writer Marcel Proust (1871-1922) stated in an article for Le Gaulois that “it was the salons that made reputations […] very few great men succeeded without first passing through a salon”. The “closed world” of the salons with its rules and codes was suitable for establishing and developing networks (Weber 2018; Martin-Fugier, 2003). Interestingly, in his Mémoires de jeunesse (Clastres, 2008), Pierre de Coubertin demonstrated a fascination for the salons stating that the most “chic” salons were obviously the ones kept the closest”. Assuming that the successful restoration of the Olympic games would not have been possible for Pierre de Coubertin without a network of friends and persons who helped him to make it a reality, the question arises where his place was in the salon context. A current research project concentrating on Coubertin´s correspondence with women of his time, some of whom have been salon hostesses, and sheds light on his salon activities. This paper presents preliminary research findings concerning the Comtesse de Grefullhe (1860- 1952) who was the personification of the salons in Paris and whom Proust immortalised in the novel A la recherche du temps perdu.