October 30, 2015
Marcel Nicolas Muller, 89, professor emeritus of French, died at his home in Ann Arbor on Oct. 14. A world-renowned specialist in the works of Marcel Proust, Muller was a member of the Michigan faculty from 1966 until his retirement in 1995.
Muller was born in Belgium and earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Liège. He earned his Master of Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1954 and his Ph.D. at the same institution in 1964, writing his dissertation under the direction of Germaine Brée, a distinguished figure in Proust scholarship and French studies.
He served as instructor and assistant professor at Lawrence College (subsequently Lawrence University) from 1961 to 1966, at which time he was appointed associate professor of French in Michigan’s Department of Romance Languages and Literatures. He was promoted to professor in 1976. His major publications include "Les Voix narratives dans 'La Recherche du temps perdu'" (1965) and "Préfiguration et structure romanesque dans 'A la recherche du temps perdu'" (1979). He published many articles on Proust as well as articles and papers on Paul Valéry and other French writers of the 19th and 20th centuries.
He was known as a dedicated and challenging teacher of both undergraduate and graduate students, and was one of the first faculty members to incorporate French structuralism into the teaching of literature at the university. He remained very active in Proust scholarship and in the intellectual life of his department for many years after his retirement. He is fondly remembered by colleagues, former students, and friends for his wit, compassion, humility and imagination.
He is survived by his beloved companion of the past 10 years, Leonore Gerstein; a sister and brother-in-law, Jeannine and Edmund Lusas; two nephews and a niece; and two grandnephews and a grandniece. A memorial service will take place at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 8, at Muehlig Funeral Chapel, 403 S. Fourth Avenue, in Ann Arbor.
—Submitted by William Paulson, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures