• Events
SEE ALL
Nov 28
Film
Welcome Embassy of France - La Maison Française 4101 Reservoir Road NW Washington, DC 20007

Marcel Proust's World War I Letters: A Digital Edition

Thousands of letters written by Marcel Proust, many of which had been collected and published by the scholar Philip Kolb of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, will be put online and made available free to scholars and general readers alike.

The first batch of the letters, two hundred related to World War I, is expected to be published online by Nov. 11, 2018, to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War.

Commemorating World War I using Proust correspondence doesn't just serve the interests of Proust scholars; it also mobilizes our interest to draw new attention to the war. Proust, who was frail and of poor health, did not fight in the war. However his younger brother Robert, a surgeon, did, and the two exchanged letters during the conflict. Proust's letters lend texture to the experience of war, and challenge mechanized associations with flashes of doubt, despair, and reverence and remind us of the human costs of warfare.

The handwritten letters posted online will include a printed transcript of the document and will also offer various links, including press articles of the time and content of the letters.

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is leading the project to digitize the collection, with collaboration from the University of Grenoble Alps, the Institute of Texts and Modern Manuscripts and the National Library in France.

The Rare Book and Manuscript Library at the University of Illinois houses over 1,100 letters to and from Marcel Proust, making it the largest collection of Proust’s letters in the world. This unique collection was built to support the remarkable work of Philip Kolb, who spent decades editing Proust’s vast correspondence. Today the collection continues to grow in collaboration with the Kolb-Proust Archive for Research: in 2013, sixteen new letters were acquired.

For more information

Part of the French Embassy's yearlong nationwide centennial commemoration of the United States entrance into WWI, How 1917 Changed the World.

Presented by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy with support from The French Mission du centenaire de la Première Guerre mondiale, in charge of the World War One Centenary in France. This program is endorsed by The U.S. World War One Centennial Commission as a commemorative partner, which recognizes commitment to educating the public about World War One and honoring those who served.

MORE IN BOOKS & IDEAS