The auction at Sotheby’s of archives belonging to the French writer Marcel Proust has passed, racking up a total sale value of $1.3 million. This, at least, is a sure sign of how great and rich – literally – a legacy Proust has left us. On the whole, the sale exceeded expert estimates for the collection, which was tagged at somewhere between $600,000 – $850,000. The trove of about 120 documents came from the writer’s 41-year-old great-grand-niece Patricia Mante-Proust.
The most valuable item in the sale was the original manuscript of In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower, the second volume of Proust’s grand masterwork In Search of Lost Time. This fetched up to around $120,000, well beyond the estimates of around $22,000 to $28,000. The manuscript includes crossed out passages and corrections from the author.
An original edition of Swann’s Way (the first volume of the work) which was published in 1913 was also sold, reaching around $70,000. Besides that, the auction was a treasure trove of memories, featuring several photos and letters involving Proust, his friends, his lovers, and his family.
“The set of proofs represents the author’s writing in the midst of his creative flow, with all its successive edits,” Sotheby’s said in a statement. Perhaps this may be what the suitors in the sale were trying to get at – a representative slice of the creativity and vivacity of life that Proust channeled in writing his novel. That sliver of ‘lost time’.
This story was written in-house, based on an AFP report. Image are courtesy of Sotheby’s.