Features April 1983
Proust before “A la recherche”: selected letters, 1880-1903
Edited by Philip Kolb and translated by Ralph Manheim
introductions by J.M. Cocking
There was a time when Proust's biographers and critics were on the defensive about his letters, aware as they were of the unprepossessing image those letters might conjure up. Philip Kolb's work in editing and presenting them, pursued with hardly a break over nearly half a century, has changed all that and revealed the wealth and variety of interests to be found there.
Proust's letters began to be known to the reading public in the late 1920s and the 1930s; first, a few at a time, in the memoirs published by people he cultivated, or in periodicals; then, from 1930 onwards, in the old edition of the Correspondence generate. The first collected volume (1930), which revealed all the letters then known of Proust to Robert de Montesquiou-Fezensac (Proust's model for the Baron de Charlus), did very little for...
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