Letter to Daniel Halévy

[19 March 1910]  

 My dear friend,

   I was unaware of this terrible misfortune that I can hardly comprehend. I remember the sudden mixed emotion of tenderness, respect, dread, devotion and sweetness that Mama's voice and face assumed when she said: "Those are the people who lost a child!" And indeed I know very well that nothing could be more painful than closing the eyes of the ones who one day should have had to close yours. And I remember poor Brunschvicg's letters from last year. And I think very sadly too about you, and about Madame Halévy. I know that you have everything within you to make you suffer more than others in your misfortune, and everything too to make you bear your suffering more courageously. "Sorrow is a fruit. God does not make it grow on limbs too weak to bear it."1 But you so dislike anybody talking to you about your feelings that as I think so much of you I would not have written. But I received the sorrowful black letter and I thought all the same that it would be better to do so. In any case this is to tell you that I am not expecting a reply.
   Best to you,

   Marcel Proust.

   I am looking at your article on Wells that I like with some reservations: I do not believe that there is any necessity that obliges a man with the genius to create a beautiful work not to create it, at least no exterior necessity. The sad thing for him then would be the forgetfulness of an indifferent public, and him then deviating towards the "rhythm" of others. As for Wells I hardly know him. But I don't think he is so great. With too many abstractions and scientific solemnity he seems a very inferior second growth compared with the much more ingenious Stevenson. But all this is said quite at random because I have read almost nothing of his and I have spent a few delightful moments among the Martians and with the Invisible Man.

1. Victor Hugo, L'Enfance.


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