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Belle Epoque Erotica

Since its inception in 1994, the Kolb-Proust Archive has been a world-renowned center for studies of the life and work of Marcel Proust, one of the most important twentieth-century French writers. Along with André Gide, Proust wrote works that revolutionized modernism through new style and new subject matters, the most notable of which is gay-themed discourses. A history of the representation of homosexuality in an historical literary context, however, would not be complete with only the works of these two figures. There were literally hundreds of novels and tracts engaging this matter published in France between the two world wars. Additionally, there exist many minor French literary works of this period written for popular consumption which were likewise enjoyed by Proust and writers in his circles. To this day, very few are present in collections, with volumes scattered here and there.

To assist the Kolb-Proust Archive in reaching a wider audience of researchers working on related areas, the Library has provided funding to initiate an acquisition program of as many of these titles as possible, usually available through used book dealers at modest prices. The attainment of a major collection of these popular literary works will constitute a collection of excellence for Illinois’ already prestigious holdings in French literature that will be an invaluable resource for researchers world-wide. The collection currently includes titles by approximately 56 authors from Proust’s time and our holdings continue to grow.