PROUST, Marcel (1871-1922). Autograph manuscript and printed proof sheets, a portion of the manuscript of A L'ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs, a "placard" consisting of 10 segments of uncorrected galley proofs (290 lines) printed for the publisher Bernard Grasset in Paris [June 1914], plus 11 segments of closely written AUTOGRAPH ADDITIONS BY PROUST, his manuscript additions totaling 233 lines.
An oblong "placard" with text and manuscript segments neatly arranged in five columns, mounted on a single sheet (overall 495 x 645mm), numbered "No. 35" in blue crayon at top left. Light age-toning, originally folded, with small loss at center (not affecting text or manuscript segments). In a modern frame.
PROUST AT WORK: A "PLACARD FROM À L'OMBRE DES JEUNES FILLES EN FLEURS, FROM PROUST'S SUPREME NOVEL CYCLE
The first volume of Proust's monumental work was published in 1914 by the Paris firm of Bernard Grasset under the title Du Côté de chez Swann; the second part, À L'ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs (Within a Budding Grove in Scott Moncrieff's translation) was ready in proof when the war broke out, halting publication. By 1916, André Gide, who had initially turned down the book, worked to persuade Proust to place the project in the hands of the publisher Gallimard. Proofs began to be delivered to the author in October 1917, but further work was suspended and not resumed until April 1918. It was finally completed in November of that year. While the concept remained the same, for the duration the war Proust worked on a radical revision of the original text. Graphically shown in the present "placard," Proust's working methods used proofs not merely for correction, but as an opportunity for thoroughgoing, exhaustive revision. As George Painter observes: "Proust's revisions springs from a new conception of the ideal scale of Á la recherché: his purpose, which he perfectly achieves, is not to expand it, but to bring it to its true magnitude" (Proust: The Later Years, p.236).
The text corresponds roughly to eight full pages in the critical text edition of the Plaéiade, constituting an important episode in what was to become the second volume (Gallimard, 1918) in Proust's long masterpiece À la recherché du temps perdu (Grasset 1913, Gallimard 1918-27). The text here introduces Charlus ("Fleurus" in the proof) and includes the narrator's conversation with Saint-Loup ("Montargis" in the proof) about Charlus, his reflections on the same, and a long passage on the image he has formed of Mme de Villeparisis. This heavily revised WORKING MANUSCRIPT not only adds important passages that would find their way into the finished book, but both printed proof and manuscript here contain fragments of text that would subsequently be either modified or suppressed by the author in the published version.
After publication, at Proust's request, a limited, deluxe issue was published in 1920, into each copy of which was folded one or more placards. The present placard 35 is almost certainly one of those sheets.