Books: The Private Tutor


by HILDEGARD KNEF 377 pages. Farrar, Straus & Giroux.


One of the great climaxes in Proust's Remembrance of Things Past occurs when Charles Swann confides to the Due de Guermantes that he is dying. Instead of sympathizing, the Due turns to his wife, who has dressed for a party, and demands that she wear red shoes, not black, to go with her red dress. He tells Swann jovially to calm down; they will be meeting for lunch soon.

That sort of callousness is about what people with cancer can expect, according to Hildegard Knef. She has it and lives Proust's horrid little...

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