PROUST, Marcel. Two autograph letters signed to Lucien Daudet, the first n.p. [Paris], n.d. [8 August 1915], admitting that he has not yet visited Joachim Clary, 'Comme les Russes l'évacuation de Varsovie je vous ai parlé longtemps à l'avance de la visite à Clary ... je ne l'avais pas fait mais rien n'est perdu'; begging him to think of seeing him before returning to Caen, and worrying about Lucien's health, while he himself has 'des complications militaires' and has been put off for 6 months. Lucien's 'revolt' against crêpe [for mourning] is 'une étonnante intuition si vous ne connaissez pas la vie de la dame', and by a coincidence which is 'très Goncourt' he received Lucien's letter as he was reading that the mourning for M. de Seine was led by M. de St Loup, one of his characters. He gives other news including a story about Reynaldo Hahn's very pious sister, and in a postscript ('Demi-Balzacien') writes of the marriage of the brother of his 'femme de chambre' ('celle que vous croyiez 'Suedoise') to the niece of the Archbishop of Tours, 4 pages, 8vo; the second n.d. [October or November 1915], apologising for a short letter but he has so many anxieties and problems and on the subject of 'choses bêtes', describing a coincidence about the address of Comtesse de Pourtalès and likewise at Illiers there is a 'rue de Docteur Proust' where he might well live; he has visited Clary and also sent his works to 'Yuchi' [Clary's Japanese servant]; joking [in an unpublished passage] about an acquaintance's teeth, 'Si le Paléodonte n'est pas un animal fabuleux et existe c'est certainement la Ctesse Odon de Montesquiou', with further remarks, and in a postscript referring to Lucien's kind words about Reynaldo, 4 pages, 8vo (together 8 pages, 8vo).
The Russian evacuation of Warsaw had occurred on 5 August, shortly before the first letter was written. Daudet notes that he had written to Proust about a lady who had rejected the traditional widow's black veil. The anxieties and problems to which Proust refers in the second letter were probably financial difficulties of which he had recently become aware, and building works in the house in the Boulevard Haussmann which prevented him sleeping. Comtesse Odon de Montesquiou (née Princess Bibesco) was the mother of Léon de Montesquiou, killed in battle on 15 October 1915, to whom Proust also refers ('Le pauvre Léon lui-même avait une dentition de rongeur').
Lucien Daudet suppressed names in both letters for publication. Kolb, XIV, 202 and 249. Cahiers V (XXI and XXV). (2)