Cover image for Selected letters. Volume 4, 1918-1922
Selected letters. Volume 4, 1918-1922
Proust, Marcel, 1871-1922.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Correspondence. Selections. English
Publication Information:
London : HarperCollins, [2000]

Physical Description:
xxx, 498 pages ; 24 cm
General Note:
Includes index.

Translation of selections from Marcel Proust's Correspondence.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PQ2631.R63 Z48 2000 V.4 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



In his last years, ill and aware that his early death was fast approaching, Marcel Proust seldom left the confines of his apartment. As the German bombs rained down on Paris, he worked desperately to complete his great novel, In Search of Lost Time.

Author Notes

Proust is one of the seminal figures in modern literature, matched only in stature by Joyce, Woolf, Mann and Kafka. By the last decade of the 19th century, the charming and ambitious Proust, born into a wealthy bourgeois family, was already a famous Paris socialite who attended the most fashionable salons of the day. The death of his parents in the early years of the 20th century, coupled with his own increasingly ill health, made of Proust a recluse who confined himself to his cork-lined bedroom on the Boulevard Haussmann. There he concentrated on the composition of his great masterpiece, Remembrance of Things Past (1913-27). In recent years, it was discovered that he had already prepared a first draft of the work in the 1890s in Jean Santeuil, which was only published posthumously in 1952.

Remembrance of Things Past resists summary. Seeming at turns to be fiction, autobiography, and essay, Remembrance is a vast meditation on the relationship between time, memory, and art. In it the narrator, who bears the same first name as the author, attempts to reconstruct his life from early childhood to middle age. In the process, he surveys French society at the turn of the century and describes the eventual decline of the aristocracy in the face of the rising middle class. The process of reconstruction of Marcel's past life is made possible by the psychological device of involuntary memory; according to this theory, all of our past lies hidden within us only to be rediscovered and brought to the surface by some unexpected sense perception. In the final volume of the work, the narrator, who has succeeded in recapturing his past, resolves to preserve it through the Work of Art, his novel.

He died of pneumonia and a pulmonary abscess in 1922. He was buried in the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. (Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Choice Review

When Proust used his own upper-class milieus to show how the involuntary memory could recapture some of the late 19th century as the 20th century was getting underway, he was demonstrating a recovery method as well as writing a monumental novel. The revival of In Search of Lost Time and Time Regained, while profiting from the entry of Proust's material into the public domain, probably finds its appeal in the new turn of a century. This final volume of four, carefully selected and edited by the late Philip Kolb, complements the new "definitive" biographies by William C. Carter (Marcel Proust: A Life, CH, Sep'00) and Jean-Yves Tadie (Marcel Proust, 2000), which require a much more substantial investment of time by the reader. Although the four volumes of letters (v. 1, CH, Nov'83; v. 2, CH, Jul'90; v. 3, 1992) represent about a twentieth of the letters in the Proust archives, the selection is intelligent, the editing masterly, and Kilmartin's translation sensitive and authoritative. This particular volume is a legacy in itself: Kolb's work is put in place by his daughter Jocelyn, and Kilmartin takes over from her late husband, Terence Kilmartin, who translated the letters in the first three volumes. Serious Proust scholars and amateurs. M. Gaddis Rose; SUNY at Binghamton