Marcel Proust Plays Air Guitar on a Tennis Racket (1891)

Was “air guitar” a thing back in 1891, when a photographer captured young Marcel Proust in this playful photograph? Probably not. Maybe it’s anachronistic to read the photograph this way. But you have to admit, it’s worth suspending disbelief for a moment and imagining what song Marcel was playing. Any clever guesses?

via The Atlantic

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Comments (7)
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  • Petteri says:

    More like “racket mandolin” I think.

  • Petteri Aro says:

    PS. A wonderful pic, by the way, thanks. So was Lucia Joyce.

  • Guilherme Carvalho says:

    He’s definitely playing that shredding Vinteuil solo. ;)

  • Toad says:

    Made me wonder if he was an early tennis enthusiast–people have been playing guitar (and mandolin) a lot longer than they’ve been playing tennis. Googled it, and this photo was taken the same year the French Open–not under that name, of course–was first held, and I guess the game was booming in popularity for the first time.

    It speaks well of a man’s character when he’s willing to plop down on his knees and act silly to make a child smile. Also, he’s got a bit of a Gomez Addams look going on; very appealing. He’s a tough read, though.

  • Balazs says:

    He’s definitely playing the Marcellaise ;)

  • Thomas Petruso says:

    Tennis can be traced to 12th C. France (in the form of jeu de paume), so while the guitar and mandolin pre-date it by a few millennia, it was hardly a new phenomenon in 1891. Racquets came into use in the 16th C. (Henry VIII was a fan, and Mary Stuart was a regular player). The name “tennis” dates from the 13th C.

  • Bill W. says:

    The little girl in the chair seems to be enjoying his performance; Proust must have been quite a character.

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