The first volume of Proust’s In Search of Lost Time was self-published 100 years ago to no critical acclaim. A century later, people can’t stop talking about it. Here are some of the most interesting articles on Proust I’ve read this year (and there have been quite a few).
1. Elisabeth Ladenson argues that we have commercialized and sanctified Proust while forgetting to actually read him and see how funny he could be.
2. Colm Tóibín takes a hard look at the manuscript of the first volume and notes that the madeleine was first a biscotte (gasp!).
3. William C. Carter traces Proust’s relationship with his first English translator, Scott Moncrieff, who made the controversial choice to translate the title as Remembrance of Things Past rather than In Search of Lost Time.
4. Mary Hawthorne is enthralled with Proust’s manuscripts, which have been exhibited in several cities this year. She also recounts an anecdote that suggest Proust did not exactly have the best friends in the world:
Once the first volume finally came out, Proust sent copies to his friends, and was bemused by their response. Compagnon spoke of the reply Proust received from his friend Louis d’Albufera, an aristocratic playboy. Had he read the book? Proust wanted to know. Oh, you’ve published a book? Yes, I sent you a copy. Ah, yes, well, “Si je l’ai reçu, tu peux être sûr que je l’ai lu, mais je ne suis pas certain de l’avoir reçu.” (“If I received it, you can be sure that I read it, but I’m not sure I received it.”)
Bonus: Monty Python trying to do the impossible and summarize Proust.
(Image via Gallica, where you can find all of Proust’s manuscripts.)