Proust and the Great War (Part 2)

Selected Letters at the University of Illinois

by François Proulx, Assistant Professor, Department of French and Italian

Marcel Proust, Letter to Jacques Hébertot, 31 January 1917 (envelope)

Time Regained, the final volume of Marcel Proust’s novel In Search of Lost Time, is among the most famous literary depictions of World War I. Yet most of Proust’s letters from the war period have never been translated into English. Proust and his relations felt the effects of the war closely: their letters offer vivid testimony of their varied experiences, from the horrors of the front, to social and cultural life in Paris under the threat of bombardments.

Proust and the Great War  features the work of graduate students enrolled in the seminar “French 578: Marcel Proust” at the University of Illinois. Each student translated, annotated, and wrote an explicatory text about a letter or group of letters held at the Rare Book and Manuscript Library. This exhibition, with a small selection and limited features, offers a glimpse of things to come in the forthcoming digital edition of Marcel Proust’s letters.

See Part 1 of the exhibition, designed in collaboration with graduate students in 2014.

Letter from Marcel Proust to Lionel Hauser, 26 July [1914], by François Proulx

Letter from Marcel Proust to Lionel Hauser, [27 August 1915], by Julien Berthelon

Letter from Marcel Proust to Antoine Bibesco, [c. 9 September 1915], by Francesca Roncoroni

Letters from Marcel Proust to Lionel Hauser, [27 May 1916], and from Lionel Hauser to Marcel Proust, 29 May 1916, by Nicolas Portugal

Letter from Marcel Proust to a friend, [first half of July 1916], by Clément Dubuisson

Letters from Robert de Montesquiou to Marcel Proust, 25 December 1916, and Marcel Proust to Madame Straus, [c. 27 December 1916], by Emily Swisher

Letter from Marcel Proust to Jacques Hébertot, 31 January 1917, by Sabrina Y. Lee

Letter from Marcel Proust to Paul Goldschmidt, [c. December 1917], by Claire Baytas

Letter from Gaston Calmann-Lévy to Marcel Proust, 25 June 1918, by Anne Mutidjo

Letters from Le Figaro to Marcel Proust, 24 September 1918, Marcel Proust to Berthe Lemarié, [5(?) December 1918], and Marcel Proust to Daniel Halévy, [shortly after 5 December 1918], by Mouna Benbouazza

Letter from Marcel Proust to Daniel Halévy, [19 July 1919], by Anoosheh Ghaderi

The Rare Book and Manuscript Library at the University of Illinois houses over 1,200 letters to and from Marcel Proust, making it the largest collection of Proust’s letters in the world. This unique collection was built to support the remarkable work of Philip Kolb, who spent decades editing Proust’s vast correspondence. Today the collection continues to grow in collaboration with the Kolb-Proust Archive for Research. An updated, entirely digital edition of Proust’s correspondence has recently been undertaken by a research partnership bringing together the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the Université Grenoble Alpes, and the Institut des textes et manuscrits modernes (CNRS-ENS, Paris).

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