Thursday, September 28, 2017

“The ‘nailing’ of crates”

Marcel Proust to Madame Williams, July or August 1915:

From Letters to His Neighbor, trans. Lydia Davis (New York: New Directions, 2017).

Letters to His Neighbor collects twenty-six letters that Proust wrote to his upstairs neighbors at 102 Boulevard Haussmann, Charles D. and Marie Williams. Charles (“the Doctor”) was a dentist, whose third-floor office was directly above Proust’s apartment. The Williamses lived above the office on the fourth floor. All but three of the letters are written to Marie Williams (always addressed as “Madame”), and they suggest a light friendship between shut-ins. Proust offers compliments (celebrating Madame’s “Youth, Beauty and Talent”), sends gifts (books, flowers, pheasants), laments the war, and, again and again, draws attention to noise. Cork-lined walls were evidently no real defense. This beautifully produced book gives us something fairly unusual: a portrait of the artist as a neighbor.

Related reading
All OCA Proust posts (Pinboard)

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