Treasure or trifle? Finding a lost literary masterpiece is very ...

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Treasure or trifle? Finding a lost literary masterpiece is very unlikely

In light of some recently discovered Proust stories, the dubious track record of forgotten works gives one pause

Duncan White

Have you read the latest Marcel Proust? Not a question you expect to be asked in 2019. In August and September, a collection of his hitherto “lost” stories will be published in France. The stories were apparently left out of the 1896 collection Pleasures and Days because of the “audacity” with which they deal with homosexual themes.

“All of them remained secret, the writer never spoke of them,” claimed the publisher, Éditions de Fallois. “Proust is in his 20s, and most of these texts evoke the awareness of his homosexuality, in a darkly tragic way, that of a curse.”

Billed like this, these stories are a fascinating proposition, an insight into the developing talent of one of the great writers of the 20th century as he grappled with his sexuality. It is certainly plausible that he would have kept them secret if they were too explicit; EM Forster did not dare publish his novel Maurice during his lifetime for this reason (it was published in 1971)...

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