PROUST, Marcel. Two autograph letters signed to Lucien Daudet, the first n.p. [Paris], n.d. [circa 6 June 1914], promising to wait for him until a quarter to eight ('J'ai en ce moment Maurice Rostand qui ne restera pas'), and if he is well in the evening, he will send a note, otherwise the next day; and in a postscript writing that Daudet may bring his friends 'Mais je vous préfère seul', one page, 110 x 170mm (the lower portion of a larger leaf); the second n.p. [Paris], n.d. [31? December 1914], imploring him not to imagine he was indifferent 'à l'offre d'une joie si grande', but the smoke from the powder burnt in his room at five had not dispersed. His maid ('l'Auvergnate que vous croyiez Suédoise') had been trying to get it out but when finally at ten o'clock he told her to telephone his regrets, the café was closed, the concierge away and she did not wish to leave him alone. 'C'est moins bête de vous raconter tous ces details que de paraître ne pas comprendre votre gentillesse', declaring also how much they have to say, and especially how he pities Lucien's exile, 4 pages, 8vo (splitting at centre fold).
Daudet notes of the first letter that at this time Proust dreaded unexpected visitors and the evening they spent together was his last with Proust before the outbreak of war. Maurice Rostand, whose name he suppressed for publication of the letter, the son of Edmond Rostand, was himself a writer and great admirer of Proust. He had reviewed Du Côté de chez Swann in the most flattering terms in Comoedia in December 1913.
At the end of December 1914 Daudet, returning to Paris for 24 hours from Tours, had asked to see Proust who had given up his telephone earlier in the month, ostensibly for reasons of economy. Céleste Albaret, who had now taken up residence as maid in the apartment in the Boulevard Haussmann, conveyed his messages by means of the telephone in a nearby café. Daudet's confusion about her origins was possibly because Proust had earlier taken into his household a young Swede, Ernsst Forssgren, a student stranded in Paris at the outbreak of war, who had applied for the advertised post of valet. He left after only a short time. The density of the smoke in Proust's room was remarked upon by Céleste when she was first allowed to enter it. On his behalf she purchased the boxes of sachets of powder ('poudre Legras', a patent remedy for respiratory disorders) which he poured into a saucer and lit from a paper, in turn lit from a candle. The smoke was so thick that it obscured the furnishings of the room and, since Proust would not permit the windows to be opened, it was drawn out only when the fire was lit in the grate. Kolb, XIII, 237 and 361; Cahiers, V (IX and XII). (2)