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Proust letter writer, by Jacques Drillon

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Special issue “Proust for all”

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Reading Proust’s correspondence was somewhat heroic, like everything about this author. The orange books at the foot of the bed, for months, for years. His letters, in the nocturnal silence, like an invitation to watch again. The bursts of laughter, the enthusiasm that such reading sometimes arouses? And then sleep, stronger than anything.

In the end, you have to do the accounts: 21 volumes, 82 centimeters of shelving, 5,000 letters, or, it seems, one twentieth of what he wrote. At the beginning the volume number follows the years, it’s divine. Volume IV: 1904; volume V: 1905. But only one volume for 1910 and 1911: until the end, everything is shifted.

To read Proust’s correspondence is finally to know who “I” is. It’s another. We love him with love, that one. And yet, the two think the same way: his sentence is apparently identical, whether it is a letter of thanks or Swann’s jealousy. Same tree. The difference between the sentence of the “Research” and that of the correspondence is that, in the first case, the tree has been correctly pruned; in the second, a thousand suckers weaken its development. But it’s all there: on paper in one case, in the background in the other.

Two major breaks in his correspondence, two

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