Tuesday, July 10, 2018

On Proust’s birthday

Marcel Proust was born on July 10, 1871.

I don’t know whether I have told you that this book is a novel. At least it deviates least from the novel form. There is a Monsieur who narrates and who says “I”; there are a great many characters; in the first volume they are “prepared” in such a way that what they do in the second is exactly the opposite of what one would expect from the first. From the publisher’s point of view, unfortunately, this first volume is much less narrative than the second. And from the point of view of composition, it is so complex that it will not be clear until much later when all the “themes” have begun to be combined. You see, there is nothing very engaging about all this. But under the conditions we have discussed, it seems to me that M. Grasset cannot lose anything, and, literarily speaking, I do not think that he will be “déclassé ” because of it.

Marcel Proust, in a letter to René Blum, February 24, 1913. From Letters of Marcel Proust, translated by Mina Curtiss (New York: Helen Marx Books / Books & Co., 2006).
René Blum arranged for the publisher Bernard Grasset to publish “this first volume,” Du côté de chez Swann, at Proust’s expense. Blum (1878–1942) was a journalist, art collector, and ballet impresario. He died in Auschwitz.

Related reading
All OCA Proust posts (Pinboard)

comments: 2

Frex said...

Died in Auschwitz? I had no idea that connection---what a hideous one.
Ever since I worked on World Geography books I saw that one of the somewhat hidden tragedies of poverty (of body & spirit) is how it deprives the WORLD of a person's talent.

I mean, when I was younger, I just saw the terrible suffering of individuals--had to pull back & out a bit to see who much we all lose.

A creator like Proust doesn't exist alone--he needs the scaffolding of others...
It is in our best interest not to deprive, traumatize, much less kill people who could be Proust & Team.
I feel like Our Current Administration totally doesn't even see that.

Michael Leddy said...

No, they don’t.