Other literary forms

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

In addition to his magnum opus, Remembrance of Things Past, Marcel Proust (prewst) wrote a number of less well-known works. His first book, Les Plaisirs et les jours (1896; Pleasures and Regrets, 1948), a collection of stories and some verse, was published in 1896. Its primary value lies in its preliminary statement of themes that are developed more fully in Remembrance of Things Past, as Edmund Wilson has pointed out.

Proust’s fascination with John Ruskin led to prefaces for and translations of Ruskin’s The Bible of Amiens (1880-1885) in 1904 and of his Sesame and Lilies (1865) in 1906. Before turning his full attention to the novel, Proust also wrote a series of parodies of his favorite French writers, which were published in Le Figaro. Of considerable interest to Proust scholars is Contre Sainte-Beuve (By Way of Sainte-Beuve, 1958), written in 1908 but not published until 1954. In it, Proust uses a variety of essays, autobiographical pieces, and fiction to attack criticism that claims to be scientific and objective. Proust argues instead that only memory and the unconscious can break through the barriers of habit that impede art. Of somewhat less interest is Pastiches et mélanges, a volume of miscellaneous pieces published in 1919. Proust’s brother, Robert, collected magazine and newspaper articles written by Proust as late as 1921 and published them in Chroniques (1927).