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The Growth of A la recherche du temps perdu

The Growth of A la recherche du temps perdu: A Chronological Examination of Proust's Manuscripts from 1909 to 1914

Anthony R. Pugh
  • Book Info
    The Growth of A la recherche du temps perdu
    Book Description:

    For forty years, scholars have had access to a vast array of documents that reveal the stages by which a few modest episodes grew into the vast and complex structure the world reveres as Marcel Proust's unique novel,A la recherche du temps perdu. Although many soundings have been made in this corpus, which comprises manuscript pages, exercise books, typescripts, and publisher's proofs, Anthony Pugh's study is the first attempt to provide a comprehensive view of the story that the documents reveal, at least in the years before the outbreak of war in 1914.

    A crucial feature of the research is the rigorous establishment of the chronological sequence of the documents, a task complicated by Proust's habit of returning to sketches already written, amplifying them with extensive additions in the margins and on the facing pages, often reorganizing them, and finally reworking them in another form, sometimes physically intercalating pages of the first version into the new one. Anthony Pugh analyses with scrupulous care every document, facing all the multi-faceted problems they present, and showing why many solutions, some of them widely accepted by Proust scholars, have to be questioned.

    It emerges from this investigation that however unsystematic Proust was in his method of composing, there is an inner logic in the way he oscillates between writing new incidents and editing texts already extant. Now, for the first time, the whole story of the way in whichA la recherche du temps perdugrew during the first six years of its gestation is told in full, both in its general thrust and in its fine details.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8141-5
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-xvi)
  3. VOLUME I: 1909–1911

    • Foreword
      (pp. xvii-xx)
      Graham Falconer

      At the beginning of his Introduction, Anthony Pugh recalls ‘hawking around’ the manuscript of an earlier, equally ambitious reference book. As I remember them, the sequence of events leading to the publication ofBalzac’s Recurring Characterswas simpler and somewhat more dignified. Oxford University Press – at this distance, there is little point in being coy about the publisher involved – had hummed and hawed, as they tended to do in those far-off days, possibly weighing up the merits of Will Moore’s witty but acerbic comments against the more positive reactions of another reader. Having just moved to Canada, it...

    • Introduction
      (pp. xxi-xxxii)
      Anthony R. Pugh

      ‘This is a work of reference, and like all works of reference, it is singularly lacking in suspense.’ These words, witty but unfair, formed part of the report submitted to a well-known university press by the late Will G. Moore of Oxford in the sixties, when I was hawking around the manuscript of my book on Balzac’s recurring characters. If I quote them now, it is to anticipate a similar reaction from reviewers and readers of the present study. A work of reference it certainly is; whether it lacks suspense depends to a large degree on the attitude of the...

    • Abbreviations
      (pp. xxxiii-xxxiv)
    • Part One Towards the Typescript of ‘Combray’ (1909)

      • chapter 1 The Foundations (May 1909)
        (pp. 3-29)

        Our starting point isCahier4. One can confidently assert that it was in that exercise book that Proust’s novel was born.¹ It was, however, not the first exercise book to be used, and in a previous monograph, entitledThe Birth of ‘A la recherche du temps perdu,’ we traced the stages that led to the eruption of a genuine narrative structure. In the beginning was the idea of writing about Sainte-Beuve, and from that came the invention of a framework: a conversation between the Narrator/critic² and his mother in which he would develop his ideas on aesthetics, in opposition...

      • chapter 2 A First Version of ‘Combray’ (June to August 1909)
        (pp. 30-51)

        In May 1909, with a rough outline down on paper, Proust could return to important incidents, rewrite them, develop them, and amplify his sketches. Equally important was the need to organize his episodes and create a coherent framework. He began, not surprisingly, with the Combray section, the one dealing with the Protagonist’s childhood and prefaced by the Protagonist in the present, lying in bed and reflecting.

        This first version of ‘Combray’ is to be found inCahiers8 and 12. Since the posthumous publication of an article by Claudine Quémar in 1982, it has become customary to presentCahier8...

      • chapter 3 Beyond Combray, and Back Again (August to October 1909)
        (pp. 52-77)

        Proust had reached an impasse with ‘Combray,’ and from f.42 ofCahier12 he turned to his second panel, Querqueville, the name he had chosen for the seaside resort where the Protagonist spent his summer holidays. If we are right in assuming that the break came at the time Proust set off for Cabourg, we could argue that by putting himself again in contact with the Normandy coast, Proust understandably found himself thinking of bringing his memories of other resorts into his novel. Against that, it must be pointed out that at the end ofCahier4, when Proust had...

      • chapter 4 Beyond Combray, and Back ... Again (October to November 1909)
        (pp. 78-122)

        One might be forgiven for thinking that once he had prepared his fair copy, Proust would lose no time in revising it and handing it over to a typist, and that he would not pick up the stories of Swann and of Querqueville until the typist had taken it away, and he had some time on his hands. But it cannot have happened quite like that, because some of the corrections Proust eventually made to his fair copy echo incidents freshly invented for the sequel. This chapter accordingly follows the same plan as the previous one, with Combray quickly abandoned...

      • chapter 5 The 1909 Typescript (December 1909)
        (pp. 123-156)

        It should come as no surprise to find that having revised his fair copy, Proust naturally felt he could hand it over to a professional typist and have a neat typescript prepared, which he could then offer toLe Figaro, and anyone else who might be interested. Now that we have seen how Proust amplified the fair copy, even intercalating new pages, we shall expect to find him equally ready to emend his typescript, and going about it in a similar way. We know for sure that the madeleine episode was not written, so that will have to be worked...

    • Part Two Towards a Complete Typescript (1910–1911)

      • chapter 6 The Sequel to Combray (January to March 1910)
        (pp. 159-224)

        The preparation of the typescript of ‘Combray,’ even if it was still short of a conclusion, freed Proust to concentrate on the sequel. Apart from tinkering with it a little early in 1910, it was to be another eighteen months before he went back to the typescript and amplified it. By then he was ready with a second panel. Perhaps we should not exaggerate the discontinuity between our fourth chapter and the present one. Proust may well have continued to work on the post-Combray portion of his novel as he was supervising his fair copy and typescript. Echoes of the...

      • chapter 7 New Material for Combray and Querqueville (April to May 1910)
        (pp. 225-274)

        In this chapter we present three substantial exercise books: 14, 28, and the second half of 29. The sequence of these books has always been controversial, and the ordering we propose differs in many respects from received wisdom.

        Although Proust did not sever all connections with what has been presented in chapter 6 (the illness and death of the grandmother, in particular, was worked on more), he did abandon the young girls, and moved on to other matters. Nearly everything we discuss in this chapter revolves around a number of key episodes: Elstir the painter, encountered at Querqueville; Vington (Vinteuil),...

      • chapter 8 Guermantes (May to August 1910)
        (pp. 275-338)

        The idea of an infatuation with a comtesse de Guermantes goes back to the very first sketches, in the Sainte-Beuvecahiers. The Guermantes family, related to the Villeparisis, was created before the idea of a novel had even come into focus, onCahier1. Right from the start (Cahier4), the Protagonist was aware of the countess in the courtyard below, and she very soon became part of the Combray associations also. Then in the first idea for Querqueville (31), the Protagonist makes contact with Mme de Villeparisis and, through her, with her nephew Montargis, soon to become a close...

      • chapter 9 The Final Sequence (Winter 1910–1911)
        (pp. 339-376)

        The early notebooks and the scenarios of 1909 contain a few sketches that form the basis for the last part of the novel. Leaving aside the conversation the Protagonist will have with his mother concerning Sainte-Beuve, and the ‘bal de têtes’ sketched out inCahier51', the scenes still to be elaborated are two: Guercy and the Verdurins (51 and 6; see 1.3d and 1.3e) and the Protagonist’s interest in Mme Picpus’s maid, who goes off with her mistress to Venice (36, see 1.2c).¹ To the latter we must add those pages ofCahiers2 and 3² where the Protagonist...

  4. VOLUME II: 1911–1914

    • Middle Matter
      (pp. i-xiv)
    • Introduction to Volume Two
      (pp. xv-xx)

      The Growth of ‘A la Recherche du Temps perdu’is a single work in two volumes. Our aims and our methods have been described in the longer Introduction published in volume 1. This second volume begins at the point where volume 1 had taken us, that is, at the moment when Proust had drafted virtually all of his novel, some parts more sketchily than others, and was ready to write a polished version that could be typed out.

      Our chronological survey of the first two years of the composition ofLa Recherchehas shown that Proust was not able to...

    • Part Three The Typescript of 1911–1912

      • chapter 10 ‘Combray’ (Spring and Summer 1911)
        (pp. 379-423)

        The working draft finally finished, early in 1911, Proust could go back to the beginning and put it all in a form that would serve as the basis for a coherent typescript. He did this systematically, beginning with the first part ofDu côté de chez Swann, ‘Combray.’ Most of ‘Combray’ was already typed, of course, but new episodes had been conceived since 1909, and the ending was still unwritten. Proust’s first task was to write the rest of the text, which we shall call ‘Combray III’ for convenience, and for this he used two exercise books (11 and 68)...

      • chapter 11 ‘Un Amour de Swann’ (September to October 1911)
        (pp. 424-464)

        Once the typescript of ‘Combray’ was complete, Proust could continue, with ‘Un Amour de Swann.’ He already had a substantial draft, inCahiers69 and 22 (see section 6.1). Although he did in fact use five sheets from that first draft for the copy he gave to his typist, he preferred to rewrite the whole thing rather than simply edit it. The first part of 69 had in any case to be reworked, although from f.25 the essentials of the story were in place.

        This second version is to be found in five exercise books (15 to 19),¹ from which...

      • chapter 12 ‘Noms de pays: le nom’(Winter 1911–1912)
        (pp. 465-506)

        The third part of Proust’s novel is in two distinct halves with a common prelude. The prelude, entitled ‘Noms de pays: le nom,’ describes the young Protagonist’s dreams of Normandy and Italy, but the actual visit to Normandy (‘Noms de pays: le pays’) comes only in the following summer, and in the meanwhile there is a Parisian winter to live through. This first panel we shall call ‘Gilberte Swann,’ while recognizing that that is not an authentically Proustian title. In the published text the first part of this episode is included in ‘Noms de pays: le nom,’ following the prelude,...

      • chapter 13 ‘Noms de pays: le pays’ (March to June 1912)
        (pp. 507-540)

        The preamble to ‘Noms de pays: le nom,’ in which the Protagonist worked himself into a state of hyper-excitement imagining Italy and Normandy, clearly implied a later visit to both places. After the winter in Paris, then, there would be a holiday in Normandy the following summer. This forms the next major section of the novel, now entitled ‘Noms de pays: le pays,’ but without title in manuscript and typescript. It was written in two exercise books, and typed by Miss Hayward, after she tackled the last two episodes of ‘Gilberte Swann,’ left incomplete by typist E.

        Three letters to...

      • chapter 14 ‘Le Côté de Guermantes’ (June to Early August 1912)
        (pp. 541-566)

        The part of the novel that follows ‘Noms de pays: le pays’ is of courseLe Côté de Guermantes. As with ‘Un Amour de Swann,’ Proust already had a good draft, but it needed to be pulled together and tightened. That was inCahiers39 to 43 and 49 (see sections 8.2 and 8.3), and it went from the Protagonist’s dreams about Madame de Guermantes to his friendship with her, and she became the gateway to the faubourg Saint-Germain, with the Protagonist accepted by the princesse de Guermantes. He has further contact with Gurcy-Fleurus-Charlus.

        In the text that Proust wrote...

    • Part Four Towards Publication

      • chapter 15 Revising the Typescript (August to October 1912)
        (pp. 569-639)

        Between the end of June 1912 and the end of February 1913, Proust accomplished much. He finished his manuscript ofLe Côté de Guermantes I, using no fewer than four exercise books for the purpose.¹ He reread the whole of his 700-page typescript, and made changes (some suppressions, many additions, and some modifications in the organization of the narrative) in D2. These changes were conscientiously copied from D2 to D1. Three publishers read the typescript, and rejected it, before a fourth, Bernard Grasset, accepted it. At some timeLe Côté de Guermantes Iwas prepared for typing, and subsequently typed;...

      • chapter 16 The Grasset Proofs
        (pp. 640-702)

        Proust spent many months searching for an editor willing to take on his new and strikingly unconventional novel. Eventually the young Bernard Grasset came to the rescue, but that was at the end of February 1913. The negotiations with sundry publishing houses therefore took place concurrently with the later stages of the work done on the typescript, as detailed in the previous chapter. Indeed, the changes Proust made to D1 can be explained only by presuming that D2 had been sent off for appraisal. There is consequently an overlap between the first part of this chapter and the previous one....

      • chapter 17 Beyond the Grasset Volume
        (pp. 703-790)

        Proust sent the typescript of Volume Two to Grasset in May 1914. It was nearly two years since he had drafted it in an imposing number otcahiers.¹ Between August 1912 and April 1914 Proust must have reviewed thesecahiers, making several changes and indicating the way through the maze by page numbers; he must have arranged to have them typed, and then reviewed the typescript, once again modifying the order of the episodes.

        Can we put a date to these tasks? Can we identify the typist? In order to answer the first question, we can at least note when...

  5. Conclusion
    (pp. 791-804)

    With the publication of the second Pléiade edition in the late nineteen eighties, supplemented by a steady stream of first-rate articles in theBulletin d’informations proustiennesover a period of thirty years, the history of the genesis of Proust’s novel has been well established, at least in its essential outlines. As we explained in the Introduction, some more work nonetheless needed to be done. It was sometimes difficult to see why Proust proceeded as he did and what the exact relationship was between different aspects of the composition that were on the stocks simultaneously. One could not help noticing that...

  6. Appendix: Information concerning Proust Documents
    (pp. 805-814)
  7. Bibliography
    (pp. 815-825)