Marcel Proust: Selected Letters Volume II: 1904-1909

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In 1904, while still working on his translations of Ruskin, Marcel Proust wrote to Maurice Barrès "I still have two Ruskin's to do, and after that I shall try to translate my own poor soul, if it doesn't die in the meantime." Within a few years Proust would begin this translation of his "own poor soul"--the monumental Remembrance of Things Past, one of the great literary works of the 20th century.
In this volume of Proust's collected letters--translated by Terence Kilmartin, ...
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Overview


In 1904, while still working on his translations of Ruskin, Marcel Proust wrote to Maurice Barrès "I still have two Ruskin's to do, and after that I shall try to translate my own poor soul, if it doesn't die in the meantime." Within a few years Proust would begin this translation of his "own poor soul"--the monumental Remembrance of Things Past, one of the great literary works of the 20th century.
In this volume of Proust's collected letters--translated by Terence Kilmartin, acclaimed for his work on the Moncrieff translation of Proust's works--the reader is carried inside this pivotal moment in a great writer's life. In a letter to Louis d'Albufera he lists the projects he has in hand: "a study on the nobility, a Parisian novel, an essay on Sainte-Beuve and Flaubert, an essay on Women, an essay on Pederasty (not easy to publish), a study on stained-glass windows, a study on tombstones, a study on the novel"--all subjects that eventually found their way into Remembrance of Things Past. The final letter in the volume talks of alterations to his flat "which are essential for my peace and quiet"--an allusion no doubt to the cork-lined room in which he would spend so many years continuing to pursue his quest for "Lost Time."
The letters are intriguing for what they say about the work, but they also offer an intimate portrait of the man--the sometime invlaid recluse, sometime socialite. Although Proust spent a great deal of time insulated at home, when he does go out it is clear that the talent for malicious observation so evident in Guermantes Way was already quite sharp. He refers to a group of dowagers he'd seen at a concert as "portraits of monsters from the time when people didn't know how to draw." And his letters to his devoted friend the composer Reynaldo Hahn are full of wit, scurrilous gossip and a great deal of teasing. He also carries on lively exchanges with two very different women--Marie Nordlinger, a serious, dedicated artist, and Louisa de Mornand, a frivolous, mercenary actress. His letters to Marie are affectionate, but his letters to Louisa are amorous--sometimes even salacious, (possibly because she served as a surrogate for his real interst, her lover Albufera.) Proust's celebrated devotion to his mother is also evident in this collection. Theirs is an intimate and loving correspondence, and her death in 1905 is clearly a tremendous blow ("My life has now forever lost its only purpose, its only sweetness, its only consolation.")
This long-awaited volume will be welcomed by scholars and general readers alike. The letters offer a special insight into the man and his art during a crucial period, and they are as delightful to read--as beautifully crafted, witty and poignant--as his fiction.

These letters offer special insight into the man and his art during a crucial period, and they are as delighful to read as his fiction.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195059618
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 12/7/1989
  • Pages: 512
  • Product dimensions: 6.31 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 1.69 (d)

Meet the Author

About the translator:
Terence Kilmartin was literary editor of the Observer from 1952 until 1987. His revision of Scott Moncrieff's translation of Remembrance of Things Past(1981) was widely acclaimed. He has also translated books by Henry de Montherlant, Malraux and de Gaulle.

Biography

Born to a wealthy family, iconic French writer Marcel Proust (1871-1922) studied law and literature. His social connections allowed him to become an observant habitué of the most exclusive drawing rooms of the nobility, and he wrote social pieces for Parisian journals. He published essays and stories, including the story collection Pleasures and Days (1896). He had suffered from asthma since childhood, and c. 1897 he began to disengage from social life as his health declined.

Half-Jewish himself, he became a major supporter of Alfred Dreyfus in the affair that made French anti-Semitism into a national issue. Deeply affected by his mother's death in 1905, he withdrew further from society. An incident of involuntary revival of childhood memory in 1909 led him to retire almost totally into an eccentric seclusion in his cork-lined bedroom to write À la recherche du temps perdu (in English: In Search of Lost Time or Remembrance of Things Past ). Published between 1913 and 1927, the vast seven-part novel is at once a kind of autobiography, a vast social panorama of France in the years just before and during World War I, and an immense meditation on love and jealousy and on art and its relation to reality. One of the supreme achievements in fiction of all time, it brought him worldwide fame and affected the entire climate of the 20th-century novel. Biography from Encyclopedia Britannica

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    1. Date of Birth:
      July 10, 1871
    2. Place of Birth:
      Auteuil, near Paris, France
    1. Date of Death:
      November 18, 1922
    2. Place of Death:
      Paris, France

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