Lost stories of gay love by a celebrated writer are on the way.
Nine stories by Marcel Proust about the life and curse of being gay in the 1890s are to be published together in a special collection. Proust originally made the works when he was in his 20s and putting together a collection of poems and short stories for Plaisirs et les jours (Pleasures and Days). But, he decided to leave out the works with homosexual themes.
According to the Guardian, a Proust specialist named Bernard de Fallois discovered the abandoned works, of varying genres like fairytales, fantasy, and dialogues with the dead, in the 1950s. And now many decades later, his publishing house Editions de Fallois will be publishing the works together in French in October under the title Le Mystérieux Correspondant (The Mysterious Correspondent).
“All of them remained secret, the writer never spoke of them,” said 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 … In different ways, the young writer transposes, sometimes barely, the intimate diary he could not write.”
During most of his life, Proust was afraid of his sexuality being known to the public. He went so far as to fight a reviewer who suggested that the writer was gay. While anti-sodomy laws were repealed in 1791 in France, the country continued to have some hostility towards homosexuality. This led to the 1960 appearance of an indecent exposure law focused primarily on gay men. But that was later repealed two years later. And then you have to add in the pressure of being a globally recognized artist.
These circumstances undoubtedly affected Proust, as is discovered through this unearthed texts. These multiple stories are primarily focused on “the physical love so unjustly denied.”
“It’s therefore in part, under the veil of a transparent fiction, an intimate diary of the writer,” said University of Stasbourg professor Luc Fraisse. “The awareness of homosexuality is experienced in an exclusively tragic way, as a curse. We don’t find, anywhere, those comic notes introduced here and there throughout In Search of Lost Time, which give the work all the colours of life, even in the darkest dramas.”
If you want to read this piece of literary and gay history, you English readers will have to wait. Unfortunately, there is currently no news of an English translation. That said, the texts will be released in their original French in October of this year. Then, an English translation will undoubtedly be released sometime in the future.