December 15, 2018

University of Illinois, French Partners Digitizing Marcel Proust’s Letters

From the University of Illinois:

Thousands of letters written by Marcel Proust (1871-1922) will be available to scholars, Proust fans and the public on a website created by University of Illinois researchers and their partners in France to digitize Proust’s correspondence.

The first phase of the Corr-Proust website – Marcel Proust’s World War I letters – was launched in late November. The French-language site features letters written by Proust between 1914 and 1918,

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The Corr-Proust website continues the legacy of Proust scholarship at Illinois. Two researchers who specialize in Proust’s correspondence are overseeing the project – Franceois Proulx, a professor of French, and Caroline Szylowicz, the Kolb-Proust librarian and a curator of rare books and manuscripts.

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A sample of some of the more than 1,200 Proust letters at Illinois’ Rare Book and Manuscript Library. The man in the photograph is the composer Reynaldo Hahn, who wrote a postcard to Proust on the back. The letter on blue paper was written to Proust by aristocrat and poet Robert de Montesquiou. Proust wrote the other letters in the photograph.

The Rare Book and Manuscript Library holds more than 1,200 letters – the largest repository of Proust letters in the world. The library acquired many of the letters to support the research of Philip Kolb, a professor of French at Illinois who devoted his career to creating a 21-volume chronological edition of Proust’s letters.

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The U. of I.’s partners in the Corr-Proust project are the Universite Grenoble Alpes and the Institute for Modern Texts and Manuscripts in Paris. Funding for the project came from the French Embassy in the U.S. and from donors William and Joan Dutton of Chicago. The first phase of the project focused on letters written during World War I because the French embassy’s funding related to the centenary of the entry of the U.S. into the war in 1917.

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The website will include letters that were only recently published for the first time in specialized journals, as well as letters from many collections, including those held by the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, the National Library in France, other research universities and in private collections.

The first phase includes 30 letters, with about 150 more to be added in the coming months. For each entry, viewers can see an image of the letter; a “diplomatic transcription,” which displays text in its original form, including line breaks, abbreviations and misspellings by Proust; a linear text, which shows the text without Proust’s line breaks or other idiosyncratic markings; a translation (still to come); scholarly notes providing context and relevant details; and metadata, which includes such information as the letter’s date, recipient, the type of paper used, where the letter is located and where it has previously been published.

Learn More, Read the Article, View Images

Direct to Corr-Proust Website (in French)

Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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