Letters to Mme and M. d'Eyragues



   a parcel was brought to me yesterday morning. I was working. I asked for the parcel to be brought into my room. I was told: it's too big, it won't go through the door. In the end they tried, it took two people, it got through. They began to unnail it. What could it be? It will bring me no pleasure and it will be very much in my way. The final planks are taken off, what is it going to be... firm and soft, brown, golden-coloured, crowned with an encrusted branch, in its density, immense, fragrant, in all its glory, it is "Madame d'Eyragues' galette", the proclaimed galette, vast, delicious, hallowed as a promised land, a gigantic galette, that presages a thousand small delights, to the nostrils the sweetness of its fragrance, to the eyes the gloss of its roundness, the pale gold of its crust here and there mingled with dark gold, finally the promised galette which in turn "promises" the offered galette which offers itself up already. Oh! so much pleasure for me! And alas, it will not be in my way for long. But Madame, what miracle of style, what excess of gratitude could be suitable for this marvel of a galette? It realizes the ideal foreseen by my brother when one day being very young, full of longing for a beautiful tart that lay enticingly on the table, when he was told that he had already eaten enough and that he must go to bed, casting a passionate look at the tart exclaimed "I want to sleep in the tart". I think one could almost do so in the galette. What a letter! I ought to have simply told you that it was divinely indigestible, and as you must be the world's greatest gourmet, as Balzac said that a person's love for fine food is proportional to his intelligence and his mind, you would have known what a eulogy it was. But you are not somebody it is easy to take leave of Madame. One wants to tarry long, one talks too much, and even "at a distance" like some medications, you know how to suppress.
   Please accept, Madame, and pass on to Monsieur d'Eyragues my respectful gratitude.

   Marcel Proust.

   Did you know that Madame Armand has just been very ill for three days. She's better now. Only a long period of rest is needed and I think Madame de Brantes is staying in Paris for some time.
   I have sent you some pretty music, which is not by me, set to some bad poetry that I am rather more responsible for. But it was not, upon the arrival of the galette, with any idea of an exchange: I would have been only too certain of being unequal and defeated.

In Marcel Proust et les Eyragues the suggested date for this letter is given as after April 1904 on the basis that the "pretty music" and "bad poetry" refers to Mensonges which was "published by Heugel in April 1904". It was actually published in April 1894. I also note that the handwriting is in his youthful style with extravagantly elongated letter Cs (especially in the signature). I would guess therefore that this letter dates from about 1894 to 1896. [Tr.]



   Dear Sir,

   I have just this moment received your kind letter and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Casa Fuerte will be most honoured to learn that amongst all those voices he had your vote which is nothing less than an acceptance. And I myself am most touched that you have taken the trouble to tell me and to give it to him.
   What, you have read that article in the Figaro. Requested the same evening, written with no corrections, full of errors and compounded by misprints, it was so unworthy of passing under the eyes of such a purist as yourself, that I hadn't dared send it to you. And you will already perhaps have found some pride in this timidity: is it not an implicit admission that I had actually had the idea of sending it to you. I very much enjoy, not being able to see you, at least to be in intellectual communication with you and Madame d'Eyragues. But you prove to me by your kind words that the most delicate are often the least difficult and that true eloquence makes a mockery of eloquence. I have done another article since for the Figaro. If I can find it again I'll send you it. I don't know the date, but one day if I am well enough to go out I'll go and look for it at the paper. What you tell me about Eyragues will have me daydreaming for a long time. What I said exactly in the article is that wisdom would be to replace a lot of travel by reading the railway timetable. At least let's say that it is wisdom for those like me who can't travel without a great deal of suffering. Also I know how to dream about a name, but you have only to give me a name and this picture of dark-eyed Eyraguesians beneath flowering cherries will enchant me for a long time to come. You have made me a springtime, a springtime that does not make me ill and brings me great pleasure. I beg you, Monsieur, to please accept and pass on to Madame d'Eyragues whom I miss so very much, my most respectful and grateful compliments.

   Marcel Proust.

This letter is dated, much more plausibly, between 13 April 1907, day of the ballot to the Cercle de l'Union (cf. comments about M. d'Eyragues' support for Casa Fuerte), and 15 June 1907, publication of Les Eblouissements. It is also written on mourning paper. [Tr.]



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