PROUST Marcel (1871-1922).

Lot 164
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PROUST Marcel (1871-1922).
L.A.S. "Marcel Proust", 102 bd Haussmann [ca. October 20, 1917], to René BOYLESVE; 10 pages in-8. Beautiful and long letter of literary admiration, quoting Balzac. [René Boylesve has just published a collection of short stories, Le Bonheur à cinq sous. Proust thanks him for sending the book. He had written, "several years ago", a letter to Boylesve, which he never dared to send him... "I have been suffering enormously from my eyes for two years, and as my general condition and the absurd kind of life it has engendered have prevented me from seeing an oculist and choosing glasses (which will make it almost impossible for me to correct the thousands of pages of proofs sent to me by the Nouvelle Revue française), I cannot read. And no doubt I will read your book all the same, because there are hardships that I cannot impose on myself. But I will only read slowly. And yet I can already tell you that I may not know any of yours that I like more or even as much. God knows that this is not an understatement, and I love the others so much that it seems to me that there is, in my predilection for the new, the indelicacy of an infidelity. But no, because I love them in him". And he quotes and comments on some of the short stories of the collection: "I do not believe that you have yet opposed in such a perfect way, so concentrated in its symmetrical composition, the happiness (that my health has always made me ignore) of a life spent in a "Bout du Pont" and the false meanness of the false life of salon. Of course, no one before you had thought of giving this fake life a body. And I know that it was already marvelous this window on the Parc Monceau where one saw at the same time only a piece of car [in the novel Madeleine jeune femme]. All the same, the too small apartment of the Avenue Henri-Martin seems to me the king of these deep toys that you have invented and the Jérôme Jeton seem to me without rivals. I know that you have written greater books, but because I admire infinitely the immense fresco of Lost Illusions and Splendor and Misery, that does not prevent me from placing at least as high the Curé de Tours, or the Old Girl, or the Girl with the Golden Eyes and to equal so many of these miniatures to the fresco. But the "clichés" that the Bonheur à cinq sous has Souzouches take, is the finished miniature, where everything is said".... He read Amélie to "a very intelligent and beautiful chambermaid [Céleste ALBARET] who has a bit too much of a wartime mood. I laughed so much when I read it to her that I was a little afraid to make her angry, I felt that every line applied exactly to her and I was surprised that she did not protest. When I finished she said it was wonderful, inimitable, that she had thought she recognized all the time... the hated maid she had replaced and whom she was always afraid would come back [Céline Cottin]. She ended up finding that the cook "below" was a bit like that, and also the maid "above". My floor alone, which she rules over, had no Amélie. I breathed".... His eyes do not allow him to write longer; he ends by saying "with all my gratitude all my admiration"... Correspondence, vol. XVI, p. 265.
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