Letters to His Neighbor

Letters to His Neighbor

by Marcel Proust, Lydia Davis

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Overview

Brilliantly translated by Lydia Davis, here are Proust’s tormented, touching, and often very funny letters to his noisy neighbor.

Marcel Proust’s genius for illuminating pain is on spectacular display in this recently discovered trove of his correspondence, Letters to His Neighbor. Already suffering from noise within his cork-lined walls, his poor soul was not ready for the fresh hell when his neighbor Dr. Williams married a widow with small children.

Chiefly to Mrs. Williams, these ever-polite letters (often accompanied by flowers, compliments, books, even pheasants) are frequently hilarious—Proust couches his fury in a gracious tone. In Lydia Davis’s hands, the digressive brilliance of his sentences shines: “Don't speak of annoying neighbors, but of neighbors so charming (an association of words contradictory in principle since Montesquiou claims that most horrible of all are 1) neighbors 2) the smell of post offices) that they leave the constant tantalizing regret that one cannot take advantage of their neighborliness.”

Proust makes fine distinctions among his auditory torments: “The valet de chambre makes noise and that doesn't matter. But later he knocks with little tiny raps.  And that is worse.”

Lydia Davis has written a generous translator’s note, tracing much of what we can know about Proust’s perpetually dark room; she details the furnishings as well as the life he lived there: burning his powders, talking with friends, hiring musicians, and, most of all, suffering. Letters to His Neighboris richly illustrated with facsimile letters and photographs—catnip for lovers of Proust.

With an Introduction by Jean-Yves Tadié and a translator’s note by Lydia Davis.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780811224123
Publisher: New Directions Publishing Corporation
Publication date: 08/22/2017
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 128
File size: 9 MB

About the Author

Marcel Proust is arguably the most admired writer of the twentieth century.
Lydia Davis is the author of one novel and seven story collections. Her collection Varieties of Disturbance: Stories was a finalist for the 2007 National Book Award. She is the recipient of a MacArthur fellowship, the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ Award of Merit Medal, and was named a Chevalier of the Order of the Arts and Letters by the French government for her fiction and her translations of modern writers, including Maurice Blanchot, Michel Leiris, and Marcel Proust. Lydia Davis is the winner of the 2013 Man Booker International Prize.

Date of Birth:

July 10, 1871

Date of Death:

November 18, 1922

Place of Birth:

Auteuil, near Paris, France

Place of Death:

Paris, France

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