Selected Letters of Marcel Proust: Volume Four, 1918-1921 by Joanna Kilmartin
The final, moving volume of one of the greatest collections of correspondence in world literature. Foreword by Alain de Botton, author of How Proust Can Change your Life.
This final volume of the selected letters of Marcel Proust brings to an end one of the greatest and most moving collections of correspondence in world literature. It opens a few months before the last campaigns of the First World War and ends with Proust's premature death, at the age of fifty-two, in November 1922.
In his last years, ill and aware that death was fast approaching, Proust seldom left his apartment, working desperately to revise and complete his great novel, In Search of Lost Time, and to oversee the tortuous publication of its first volumes. Yet, although his illness and his absolute dedication to his work meant that his range of human contacts - previously so broad - became increasingly constricted, Proust remained a prolific and brilliant correspondent until the very end. Through his letters he reached out to his wide circle of friends and acquaintances, to critics and fellow writers, and those letters vividly demonstrate that his great humanity, wit and linguistic virtuosity remained undimmed by his isolation and his failing health. They provide an unrivalled picture of post-war French society by an enlightened an often prophetic observer, and reveal, among other things, why Proust was such a great comic writer.
As Joanna Kilmartin observes in her introduction to this volume, `Proust is as good company in his letters as he was in life: droll, mischievous, mercurial, his self-deprecation and ceremonious manners masking a formidable erudition.' In these letters, no less than in his fiction, the complexity and richness of Proust's character are explored and laid bare to a degree that few artists in any age have ever achieved. The publication of his selected letters in English completes the remarkable self-portrait provided by In Search of Lost Time.