Lot 4010: Rare ALS in French, signed "Marcel," eight pages two sets of adjoining sheets, 5.5 x 7, no date but identified in his collected letters as August 11, 1907. Letter to his lover, the composer Reynaldo Hahn. In part (translated): "I'm a little sorry that you showed Cydalise to Cydalise. She will not be able to recognize herself in this story, which reflects only one aspect of her—(I'm changing pens because the other one was too atrocious—and this one is nearly as bad)…and, in any case, so fragmentary, so transitory, so subjective, that I am most likely the only one capable of finding any interest in confronting her with a memory I have of her. No, for me, Madame de Reszke is Viviane, the ghostly apparition at the edge of the Forest of Broceliande of the Lake of Love, whose adorable face and dreamy eyes enchant the legends of Burne-Jones. Faces who appear too conventional in art to be 'natural' (in terms of the works of Burne-Jones or Gustave Moreau), although Nature will on occasion produce such faces to show that such 'artistic' beauty can be real. Thus it is with Madame de Reszke, and probably was formerly with Sarah Bernhardt, and, in a certain measure, Madame Greffelke. But Madame de Reszke alone is the creature of dreams, whose beauty goes infinitely far beyond that which we created for ourselves with Brittany, but which must be the true beauty of Cornouailles, that which only poets have seen, that of Viviane, that of Iseult, of Iseult who, melancholic and disdainful of a…destiny, wandered up until the day when she heard the voice of Tristan. I'm sure that that is the true beauty of Brittany, and I'll go all the way to Pontaven, to Helogout to see if the lakes aren't the color of Madame de Reszke's eyes. Naturally, all the people that know her and…say that she's not like that at all, that she is gay, 'parisienne,' sophisticated, that she would be bored out on the heath and in the Broceliande, and that she is nothing like a furze blossom.
That may be. But that doesn't render my opinion invalid, which, however, Madame de Reszke might find to be quite incorrect. The fact that her eyes, her face have a mystery about them that she herself is not aware of and doesn't prevent this mysteriousness from being what a poet must try to capture and express, and naturally, from being used also by M. de Turenne or M. Boudeau…as their view of her, or perhaps from being the image she has of herself. Even if this image were accurate, I couldn't care less about it. Baudelaire's lines:
I know that there are eyes, most melancholy ones, / In which no precious secrets lie hidden are false.
Perhaps the eyes alone reveal secrets, but at least they reveal them to he who knows how to read them. Anyway, doesn't all that you told me about her song, about her, about what you yesterday called 'her nature' agree with what I think? And since we have no reason to be falsely modest with each other, can't we be sure that an opinion we both share has a greater chance of being true than all the views of the people mentioned above put together, when all that you can imagine is added to it? Cydalise was written returning from…where Madame de Reszke (thus from M. Nesle) was that evening, dressed in red and speaking to Porto-Riche." In a postscript at the top of the first page he adds, "I'm still hesitating between Brittany, Ceborg, la Tourraine, Germany, and Paris. The young girl (Rispoli) that 'Your name, sir, but no opinions' married this morning is related to Van Zandt and Paganini. 'How do you spell that?' Guiche will say." In fine condition.
In this poetic letter Proust reflects on the character Cydalise who first appeared in The Banquet in 1892 and later served as the basis for the 'Lost Wax' section of Pleasures and Days in 1896. As he mentions in the final line, he was first inspired to write 'Cydalise,' a sketch of a society woman, after going home from a party where he saw Comtesse Mailly-Nesle in a striking red dress. In the end, the character most resembled another woman Proust admired, Laure de Chevigne. Proust also weaves a number of allusions into this letter—he invokes Arthurian legend in Viviane as the Lady of the Lake, the Broceliande forest, and Tristan and Iseult, in addition to quoting his forerunner Charles Baudelaire. With its great length, beautiful style, and wealth of literary content, this is an ideal Proust letter.
RR Auction's Mario Puzo Archive And Literary Rarities Auction 470
Thursday, 18th February 2016
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