On the one hand, it is about the publication of the articles that Albert Camus wrote for the magazine Combat, a clandestine organ of the French resistance in 1943.
From another, this one that concerns us today, the publication by Lumen of the first stories by Marcel Prouts, hitherto unpublished, grouped under the title of one of them: The mysterious sender.
The mysterious sender and other unpublished stories, already caused a commotion in France when they appeared in the fall of 2019, when it was believed that there were no unpublished writings of Proust and by the nature of them that reveal the incipient homosexuality that the writer wanted to hide.
We did not find the dazzling pyrotechnics of ‘In search of lost time, but it already dominates the expression
They are nine short stories and mostly unfinished. All of them unpublished except one. These nine texts, written when Proust was in his twenties, should have appeared in the writer’s first book, The Pleasures and the Days, but he eventually discarded them and locked them in a drawer without ever referring to them again.
The reason? There are several, but the main one is his manifest intention to hide his homosexuality. Most of these texts evoke the consciousness of his homosexuality, in a darkly tragic way, like a curse. Proust, aware of the hypocrisy of the time on the subject, would have preferred to avoid that his first book was the object of criticism and the malice of the public. There was also the sentence in 1895 to two years of forced labor of one of the greatest writers of the late nineteenth century, Oscar Wilde, denounced by the English bourgeoisie for his homosexuality. Proust knew and admired Oscar Wilde in his own way, and doubtless feared the damaging stupidity of the society of his time.
We will not meet here with the dazzling verbal pyrotechnics of In Search of Lost Time. But he is already a Proust with a perfect command of expression and, without a doubt, a certain charm. These pages do not have the perfection of maturity, however they help us to better understand the great work Proust was already thinking about.
The reader knows, of course, that it is Marcel Proust and that he is before the first manifestations of his genius.
The work reveals the incipient homosexuality that the writer wanted to hide
The first story Pauline de S. tells the story of a woman who suffers from incurable cancer, it contains a moving meditation on death.
In the second, The Mysterious Sender, it deals with a misunderstood love between two women, whose dissatisfaction will cause the death of one and the delayed feeling of guilt in the other.
The third Memory of a Captain undoubtedly evokes male homosexuality, with the passion that a modest brigade arouses in a former officer.
In the fourth text, The Stranger, the story takes place in the Bois de Boulogne where the narrator observes from a distance a friend who walks alone by the lake.
The fifth story, In the Underworld, is a nice philosophical dream filled with some reminders from the Bible about the strengths and weaknesses of women. A fun text that, however, could arouse the ire of today’s feminists.
The next title After Beethoven’s Eighth Symphony, it does not contain a story itself; a thought is a brief meditation on music.
The gift of fairies, the eighth and longest of the unfinished tales, gracefully recalls children’s fairy tales, while playing with the figure of the benefactor genius of artists and literati.
There are nine incomplete stories where the first manifestations of genius are already shown
The collection symbolically concludes, a short text that is a kind of thanks to Proust for having understood that, like songbirds whose supreme destiny is to sing, their own salvation would come from their artistic vocation, from their writing.
As we said, the reader will know that it is Proust. You will be able to appreciate the suspense of the situations, the mystery that hides behind the characters, the sadness or the pleasure transmitted by the anecdote told. The vital vibration that flows from his texts, his transparency and his wit.