Beat the carpets later!

Michael Wood

‘It’s really a miniature novel,’ we read in the introduction to this collection of Marcel Proust’s newly discovered letters, ‘C’est un vrai petit roman.’ It’s such a perfect novel that it looks like a hoax. Twenty-six letters from Proust to his upstairs neighbours at 102 boulevard Haussmann, none of the letters heard of before, many of them complaining about the noise: how could this not be a parody? And isn’t it too broad a stroke to make the husband a dentist? The wife a delicate, suffering lady who plays the harp? Please.

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