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The man who wrote for the ‘Figaro’

John Sturrock, 25 June 1992

Selected Letters: Vol. III, 1910-1917 
by Marcel Proust, edited by Philip Kolb, translated by Terence Kilmartin.
HarperCollins, 434 pp., £35, January 1992, 0 00 215541 9
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Correspondance de Marcel Proust: Tome XVIII, 191 
edited by Philip Kolb.
Plon, 657 pp., frs 290, September 1990, 2 259 02187 5
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Correspondance de Marcel Proust: Tome XIX, 1920 
edited by Philip Kolb.
Plon, 857 pp., frs 350, May 1991, 2 259 02389 4
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Correspondance de Marcel Proust: Tome XX, 1921 
edited by Philip Kolb.
Plon, 713 pp., frs 350, April 1992, 2 259 02433 5
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... Proust wrote too many letters: he thought so and so anyone might think, as Philip Kolb’s expanding series of annual volumes edges towards the writer’s death, in 1922. Sheer numbers would not have mattered had they been stronger letters, but Proust’s correspondence is too much of it mechanical or emptily ingratiating, the one remaining exercise of the social virtues by a man who had taken to his bedroom (with occasional querulous sorties late at night to the Ritz Hotel) in order to be alone with his asthma and the prodigiously radiating manuscript of his novel ...

Little Green Crabs

John Bayley, 12 October 1989

Albertine gone 
by Marcel Proust, translated by Terence Kilmartin.
Chatto, 99 pp., £11.95, August 1989, 0 7011 3359 7
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Marcel Proust: A Biography 
by George Painter.
Chatto, 446 pp., £20, August 1989, 0 7011 3421 6
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The Book of Proust 
by Philippe Michel-Thiriet, translated by Jan Dalley.
Chatto, 406 pp., £25, August 1989, 0 7011 3360 0
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Marcel Proust. Selected Letters: Vol II, 1904-1909 
essays by Philip Kolb, translated by Terence Kilmartin.
Collins, 482 pp., £25, September 1989, 0 00 217078 7
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... One of Proust’s friends is supposed to have said of him that beauty did not really interest him: it had too little to do with desire. A remark which is not entirely lacking insight. It might be said that the relation of the two fascinated Proust as they had fascinated no writer before him, and he perceived that the kinds of pleasure involved in the two concepts were indivisible ...

Dancing and Flirting

Mark Ford: Apollinaire, 24 May 2018

Zone: Selected Poems 
by Guillaume Apollinaire, translated by Ron Padgett.
NYRB, 251 pp., £9.99, January 2016, 978 1 59017 924 6
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Selected Poems 
by Guillaume Apollinaire, translated by Martin Sorrell.
Oxford, 281 pp., £9.99, November 2015, 978 0 19 968759 6
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... an extensive and intimate correspondence after a single chance meeting on a train) and Jacqueline Kolb – la jolie rousse, the pretty redhead, addressed in the late poem of that name, and his wife for the last six months of his life. Apollinaireans are particularly fascinated by his affair with Annie Playden, an English governess whom he met in 1901 while ...

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