Lot n° 194
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PROUST Marcel (1871-1922).
L.A.S. "Marcel Proust", [July 5, 1922], to André CHAUMEIX, director of the Revue de Paris; 8 pages in-8, envelope, half blue leather jacket.
Interesting literary letter about Sodom and Gomorrah II.
Proust thanks Chaumeix for his article in Le Gaulois, which was taken up by L'Action française.
"My pleasure was all the greater because it was unexpected. You told me that after Rageot, you could no longer make a study of my book. Admiring you and loving you for useless reasons, I was easily consoled. But I was delighted. Your study of the Gaul ends like the one you did on Swann in the Debates, with a line of nature, with a little landscape. This resemblance between your two studies has probably escaped you. It only marked more deeply the line that spontaneously follows your thought. This line is very often a line of faults. One regrets in seeing this height of glance, this breadth of horizon, that you give almost anonymously, to a newspaper, to a review, so much of the best of a thought that one would like to find within one's reach when one wants it, collected, condensed in this form so easily pure and perfect. You will object to me the workers of the cathedrals who made masterpieces and did not sign them. One does not like anonymity for one's friends (I am definitely becoming familiar [and he quotes Musset:] "It is a defect, I confess it/And I will know how to correct it").
In any case without recasting, since you have the final first draft, why not put it together?
Two more words on your article. You quote a saying of France: "Clarity etc.". He probably said that since you report it. But then it is that a great mind encloses many contradictions. One day in front of me (because I was very close to him) someone complained that an author (perhaps Mallarmé) was obscure. Mr. France, slightly annoyed, answered that everything that had been new had seemed obscure and quoted us texts proving that the obscurity of Racine had been alleged by contemporaries.
It was such a dear idea to me (and one that I had never confided to my Master) that I was moved to see him unsuspectingly give him a certificate of authenticity. I took it up again later for Painting, for Music, in writings which abroad, especially in Germany, have had a resounding effect. Alas I cannot apply this theory to myself, I know that there are writings without novelty and without merit which do not seem clear. And it is among these that I fear we must classify The Search for Lost Time. If I were not beginning to feel a little too tired, I would tell you that I too am sick of having had to push so far ahead with analyses of sickly passions. Thank God that's about it. I say just about. Because in the next, more breathable, part of the story, Charlus will come back again - as often as I can - and getting worse and worse. He is a madman"...
Correspondence, vol. XXI, p. 338.
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