Thursday, June 11, 2015
Within a Budding Grove
The novel began to take shape in 1909. Proust continued to work on it until his final illness in the autumn of 1922 forced him to break off. Proust established the structure early on, but even after volumes were initially finished he kept adding new material and edited one volume after another for publication. The last three of the seven volumes contain oversights and fragmentary or unpolished passages as they existed in draft form at the death of the author; the publication of these parts was overseen by his brother Robert.
The work was published in France between 1913 and 1927. Proust paid for the publication of the first volume (by the Grasset publishing house) after it had been turned down by leading editors who had been offered the manuscript in longhand. Many of its ideas, motifs, and scenes are foreshadowed in Proust's unfinished novel, Jean Santeuil (1896–99), though the perspective and treatment there are different, and in his unfinished hybrid of philosophical essay and story, Contre Sainte-Beuve (1908–09). The novel had great influence on twentieth-century literature; some writers have sought to emulate it, others to parody it. In the centenary year of Du côté de chez Swann, Edmund White pronounced À la recherche du temps perdu "the most respected novel of the twentieth century."
In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower (À l'ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs, also translated as Within a Budding Grove) (1919) was scheduled to be published in 1914 but was delayed by the onset of World War I. At the same time, Grasset's firm was closed down when the publisher went into military service. This freed Proust to move to Gallimard, where all of the subsequent volumes were published. Meanwhile, the novel kept growing in length and in conception. When published, the novel was awarded the Prix Goncourt in 1919.