Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Proust's letters to Céleste Albaret at auction

A number of Marcel Proust's letters and notes to his housekeeper Céleste Albaret are being auctioned in Paris today, including the last note that Proust wrote to her, a few hours before his death on November 18, 1922.

The note reads:

Céleste Odilon peut partir dans 10 minutes, et rentrer vers 6h1/2, 7 du matin. Approchez de moi la chaise.

[Céleste, Odilon can leave in ten minutes and come back about 6:30 or 7:00 in the morning. Pull the chair closer to me.]
Odilon was Mme. Albaret's husband. On the other side:
J'avais entendu fer au lieu de verre.

[ I heard "iron" instead of "glass."]
I saw a similar note last year during a visit to the Kolb-Proust Archive at the University of Illinois. The thing itself — in Illinois! I'll never forget it.

You can browse all twenty lots at Sotheby's.

(And if anyone sees something wrong in my translation, please let me know.)

[Update: Bloomberg has a report on the auction.]

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