A copy of “Swann’s Way” by Marcel Proust dedicated to his “little darling”, sold for 1.51 million euros in Paris. It’s a world record for a French book, according to the auction house Sotheby’s. It is, in fact, a rare copy of the first volume of the French writer’s masterpiece, “Remembrance of Things Past”. It had been expected to go on sale for a price between 600,000 and 800,000 euros.
Record for a book
The sale beat the previous record for a piece of French literature. The record was held by the poems by Charles Baudelaire’s “Les Fleurs du mal”. A copy of which sold for 775,000 euros nine years ago. The copy of “Swann’s Way” is, however, the very first from a numbered luxuriously bound edition of the novel. In particular, Proust paid for publication and gave it as a gift to his beloved Lucien Daudet. It came also with a touching dedication from Proust to his “little darling”.
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Dedication of Proust
“You are not in this book. You are too much in my heart that I could never portray you objectively. You will never be a mere ‘character’, because you are the better half of its author”. The novel includes also the famous “madeleine moment”. The taste of a little almond cake dipped in tea sets off a flood of nostalgic memories for the book’s narrator.
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It was the star lot in the fourth part of the mammoth sale of the library of the late French fashion mogul Pierre Bergé. He was the co-founder of the Yves Saint Laurent fashion empire. And indeed put together one of the world’s greatest private collections of rare and antiquarian books.