Marcel Proust and René Blum: An Uncommon Friendship

Judith Chazin-Bennahum

in René Blum and the Ballets Russes

Published in print July 2011 | ISBN: 9780195399332
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199897025 | DOI:
Marcel Proust and René Blum: An Uncommon Friendship

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Letters from Marcel Proust tell the extraordinary story of their friendship as well as Proust’s profound appreciation for the fact that René arranged for the publication of Swann’s Way by the publisher Bernard Grasset. The chapter follows the evolution of their relationship from 1902 until the end of Proust’s life in 1922. It details the literary bond that emerged in 1913 when Proust, still distraught over his book’s rejection, sought a publisher. Blum responded patiently and encouragingly to all of Proust’s pleas to protect his manuscript. Discussing the original process on the nature of memory that Proust used in his writings, his letters also describe the challenges of his painful illnesses. The chapter recounts what might be considered Proust’s betrayal of Bernard Grasset, whom Proust left for André Gide and the editors of Nouvelle Revue Française as publisher of his later books. It was a complicated divorce, one that occurred against the backdrop of the tragic events of World War I. This chapter ties one of Proust’s characters, Albert Bloch, to the personality of René Blum. It ends with a 1925 letter inviting Blum to write a book with the Proust scholar Léon Pierre-Quint—an invitation that Blum had to decline due to his overwhelming responsibilities as artistic director of the Théâtre de Monte-Carlo.

Keywords: Marcel Proust; correspondence; Bernard Grasset; Antoine Bibesco; World War I; Albert Bloch; André Gide; Léon Pierre-Quint

Chapter.  6103 words. 

Subjects: Dance

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