(Click on the link above to see this letter and its notes in the Corr-Proust digital edition, including all relevant hyperlinks.)
I am so sorry, I have been very clumsy. My only wish had been that you forget for a while that I had written a book. So much so that, as I told Copeau a few days ago, if it could relieve you from fatigue and worry, I would take the book back to Grasset. And because I made such a bad job of making you realize all this you have tired yourself by writing to me. Dear friend, don’t think about me, and furthermore don’t think about it in terms of its publisher. Everything will be the way you want, when you want, I don’t say where you want because Copeau told me that what you want is that the book stays with the N.R.F. If that is the case I will definitely leave it with you. And of course since it was already agreed previously I would only have taken it back if that was what you wanted. It goes without saying that the requests I made the other day for my proofs had nothing to do with all this. I asked for them for several reasons of which these are the two principal ones. I thought that as long as they were doing nothing, the counting up of words not taking too long, I could correct a few little things which would speed things up a bit. On the other hand I thought that as an over scrupulous publisher you were still worrying about the care of your authors. So I told myself that while I have the proofs here with me there would be no need for you to worry about a task that, for my part, to all intents and purposes can’t be accomplished, and that might put your mind at rest and free you from worry
I misunderstood. So I will send you back the proofs shortly. I say shortly rather than tomorrow, because I still haven’t looked at them, and since Mme Lemarié has kindly taken such pains to bring me them, it would be best if I make the most of things by at least making two or three changes even though they are of little importance. Take good care of yourself dear Gaston. I hope that my book which is without any shadow of impatience though without any shadow of pride (it isn’t “patiens quia aeternus!”), will not be a too tiring distraction for you when you are recovered. It is more of a “novel” than the one you know already, and because of that it might perhaps be, I don’t say more “accessible” but more in accord with the tastes manifested by the particular public it hopes to reach, it seems to me. Dear friend, I don’t want to tire you. Please thank Madame Lemarié for me. I am embarrassed and respectfully grateful for the trouble she has taken for me.
Get plenty of rest my dear friend, my very dear friend, take good care of yourself, get yourself better, I think about you constantly with the strongest feelings of friendship.
- From December 1916 to February 1917, Gaston Gallimard was suffering from depression, withdrew from the NRF's business affairs, stayed in a sanatorium around the second fortnight in December, and during this period entrusted the day to day business to Madame Lemarié. Proust, no doubt made aware of his absence through Jacques Copeau, had briefly suggested a return to Grasset, and wanted to make use of this period of inactivity to get his manuscript back and make a few corrections to it. When Gallimard was informed about this he became alarmed and repeated his intention to publish La Recherche and asked for the return of the manuscript. Following Gallimard's response (which has not been found), Proust replied back to him proposing to sign a binding contract (CP 04455; Kolb, XIX, no. 418, dated 1917 by Kolb). Madame Lemarié then drafted a reply (CP 04452; Kolb, XIX, no. 415) in which she hoped that 1917 would bring peace, which allows us to date the present letter in the second half of December 1916. [CSz]
- The letter has not been found and the conversation has not been recorded. [CSz, FP]
- The letter has not been found. [CSz]
- See Gallimard's letter to Proust of 9 November 16 (CP 05449; MP-GG, no. 32). [CSz]
- Proust thanks Madame Lemarié for having taken this trouble in a letter of the [first half of January 1917] (CP 04451; Kolb, XIX, no. 414). [CS, FP]
- Deus autem patiens est, quia æternus est, et novit diem iudicii sui, ubi omnia examinat [But God is long-suffering, because He is eternal, and He knoweth the day of His own judgement, where He weigheth all things.] Saint Augustine, Enarrationes in Psalmos, psalm 91, par. 7. [CS]
- Translation notes:
- Contributors: Yorktaylors