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“A Soul Under Guise Of A Book”

67. PROUST, Marcel.

Remembrance of Things Past.

London, 1922–31. Eleven volumes. Original

blue cloth; dust jacket for

Within a Budding Grove, Vol. II

.

$9200.

First edition in English of Proust’s masterpiece.

Issued over a number of years by two different

publishers, complete sets are quite rare.

Proust

was the son of a Jewish mother and a Roman

Catholic father, and his great work includes

lengthy passages on homosexuality. It never

stood a chance with the Nazis who added its

ample fuel to their 1933 bonfires.

In a February 1908 letter Proust men-

tioned wanting to “start a rather long work.”

Fourteen years and some two million words

later, in February of 1922, he wrote, “A la

recherche du temps perdu is scarcely begin-

ning.” Proust died nine months later, still in

the midst of revisions and additions. Of his

magnum opus he said, “I have tried to put all

my philosophy into it, to make all my `music’

resonate.” “This masterpiece, at once so lucid

and so mysterious, in which he has found the

means to express what seems inexpressible,

say what seems unsayable—it is a soul under

guise of a book” (Maurice Rostand, quoted

in Hayman, 274, 489, 387). This set consists

of all first editions in English save for

Cities

of the Plain,

first translated in 1927, here rep-

resented by the 1929 limited edition; the 1927

edition of

Cities of the Plain

was published

in New York and is not uniform with the

English editions, making this combination

much preferred. Without the very scarce dust

jackets for 10 of the 11 volumes. A rare set in

exceptional condition.

“There was

nothing abnormal

about it when

homosexuality was

the norm.”

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