Henri Bergson

1859 (Paris) – 1941 (Paris)

Proust and Bergson knew each other through family connections: Proust always denied that Bergson’s ideas had been influential on his own writing (the strength of insistence has led some to believe this shouldn’t be taken too literally). The bilingual Bergson visited James when both were in London; James described him as a modest man, but intellectually a genius. The two had strong sympathy for each other’s work. Valéry was influenced by Bergson, though also disagreed with him. In the debate with Einstein, Bergson is generally regarded as having come off second best.