Sunday, August 1, 2010
Remembrance of Things Present
Yes, I’m now in possession of the fourteen-volume 1862-1868 edition of Madame de Sévigné’s letters*. I need only learn French. I paid forty dollars for the set — a ridiculously low price, despite the fact that the covers are not original. For who knows how many years, the letters were part of the Marylhurst College Library collection in Oswego, Oregon. A year or so ago, the books turned up at the Friends bookstore at our local public library. They were priced at sixty dollars until recently, when the person in charge decided they had been sitting there long enough and lowered them to forty. Naturally, I took that as I sign and brought them home. I just looked in my wallet — one lizard, one fence post, a piece of barbed wire, and a tumbleweed. No more book-buying for a good long while now. No nothing, in fact.
I read online, probably on Wikipedia but I might be mistaken, that Madame de Sévigné’s letters are referred to in Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past as favorite reading material of the narrator’s grandmother.
Remembrance of Things Past — thanks to my son, I now have both volumes of the 1934 Modern Library edition translated by C.K. Scott Moncrieff. I had the first volume, and he had the second. When we were at Powell’s Books recently, we found a set containing both volumes, so he bought it and gave me the book he already had. And then he had a shocking idea: he said we should read all of it — the whole thing, both volumes. The first volume contains 1,141 pages; the second contains 1,124 — a mere 2,265 pages.
We begin that project today.
* Madame de Sévigné (1626-1696) wrote a lot of letters.
Recently Linked: My thanks to Annie Wyndham for linking to yesterday’s poem, this will be, from this early morning roundup in her fine blog, Jottings of an Ameriquebeckian.
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