PROUST, Marcel. Two unpublished autograph letters signed to Lucien Daudet both n.p., n.d. [March ? 1908], in the first referring to an old letter which Lucien cannot find and to his pastiche of Flaubert; to Fénélon's departure ('comme dans Baudelaire') for China and how exhausted he is; recalling the original of the Goncourt pastiche, and reflecting that they met in Edmond de Goncourt's lifetime, and remembering their visit to him; in a postscript he declares that he has lost almost half of what he had 'par les de Beers, americaine, vente ratée d'une maison etc', but finally admits that he is exaggerating about the amount, 4 pages, 8vo; in the second, showing great pleasure in Madame Daudet's enjoyment of his pastiches, saying that the Renan one is about to appear, and explaining that he cannot do one of Alphonse Daudet, 'Pasticher votre Père me serait impossible, réveillerait en moi trop de chagrin, trop de tendresse, trop de respect., Et puis surtout ce n'est ni Merimée ni Voltaire qui est impastichable ... Peut-être une lettre de mon moulin, pourrais-je, mais je ne pourrais l'écrire qu'en pleurant', continuing with further reasons for not parodying Lucien's father, and recalling the beauty of Pray, 4 pages, 8vo (on half-mourning paper; together 8 pages, 8vo).
Proust's Flaubert pastiche was published in Le Figaro on 14 March and his parody of Ernest Renan on 28 March 1908, almost the last of the Lemoine parodies. A few days later the fraudster Lemoine, released from prison on bail, fled to Constantinople. Proust's parodies have been described as the funniest in the French language, and for him they offered a relaxation from the tensions of the novel on which he was working (Painter, II, 99).
His financial losses were connected with the stock-market speculations in which he had dabbled since his mother's death in 1905. He had invested partly in De Beers, who were to have been the victims of Lemoine's fraud (involving the sale of diamonds which he claimed to have manufactured but had in fact purchased).