Excerpt：Letters to His Neighbor by Proust
“If you have suffered from noisy neighbours, you will sympathize with Marcel Proust.”
- The TImes Literary Supplement
Letters to His Neighbor
作者： Proust, Marcel/ Davis, Lydia (TRN)/ Gaudry, Estelle (EDT)/ Tadie, Jean-Yves (EDT)
普魯斯特在 1907 年搬至奧斯曼大道 (Boulevard Haussmann) 102 號，樓上住了一對夫婦，先生是美國牙醫師 Dr. Williams，太太 Marie 則是演奏豎琴的音樂家。
(p.4 追憶似水年華 I 在斯萬家那邊 聯經版 1992)
(p.86~87 追憶似水年華 III蓋爾芒特家那邊 聯經版 1992)
I had in fact not anticipated a shortness of breath so severe that it prevents me from trying to sleep. Noise will therefore not bother me in the least (and will be all the more relief for me on a day on which I could rest).
﹝end of 1908—beginning of 1909？﹞
I hope that you will not find me too indiscreet. I have had a great deal of noise these past few days and as I am not well, I am more sensitive to it. I have learned that the Doctor is leaving Paris the day after tomorrow and can imagine all that this implies for tomorrow concerning the "nailing" of crates. Would it be possible either to nail the crates this evening, or else not to nail them tomorrow until starting at 4 or 5 o'clock in the afternoon (if my attack ends earlier I would hasten to let you know).
﹝July or August 1915﹞
……Clary told me what a great musician you were. Will I never be able to come up and hear you? The Franck quartet, the Béatitudes, the Beethoven (all music that I have in fact here) are the objects of my most nostalgic desire.
I have never once been well enough to go hear them (last Sunday the Béatitudes was performed, but I was wheezing in my bed) and when by chance a musician comes to see me in the evening, I stop him from making music for me so that the noise may not bother you. What compensation if on one of the very rare evenings when I can get up, you should permit me to hear you.
譯者 Lydia Davis 本身是一位相當熟悉普魯斯特的知名作家，她曾經擔綱企鵝出版社的翻譯計畫，負責《追憶似水年華》的第一冊《斯萬之路》 (The Way by Swann's)，因此書末的評論格外珍貴，她還特別提到普魯斯特的房間，鉅細靡遺地描繪裡頭的隔間，或許也可以當作購買本書的重要考量。
另外有一件插曲則是相當有趣，Lydia 提到《新觀察家》 (Le Nouvel Observateur) 在本書出版之後摘要了部分書信內容，結果網站上出現一則留言，超展開普魯斯特的送花密史，原來從 1908 年開始長達五年，普魯斯特遠從他渡假的卡堡 (Cabourg) 鄰鎮烏爾加特 (Houlgate)，都會透過一家花店送花給巴黎住所的芳鄰，這完全符合他的行事風格：慷慨多金、溫文有禮且持之以恆……
A person by the lyrical name of Lerossignol—"the nightingale" —writes an online comment to the article. He is the grandson of a florist with a shop in the seaside town of Houlgate, on the stretch of the Normandy coast aptly known as the Cote Fleurie (the Flowery Coast); Houlgate was a neighboring town to Cabourg, where Proust liked to stay at the Grand Hotel. Guests marveled, according to Philippe Soupault in his memoirs, over "how Monsieur Proust rented five expensive rooms, one to live in, the other four to 'contain' the silence." Cabourg became Balbec in Proust's novel. The flower shop was the one Proust patronized in the years 1908 to 1913 when sending flowers to, among others, Mme Williams. M. Lerossignol writes that the family archives in his possession include records of the shop's transactions which mention Proust's sending flowers to the Williamses; he has therefore known the name for a long time and was aware that the couple must have been acquaintances of Proust's. But only now, with the publication of the present letters, does he know who they were. He would like, incidentally, to correct one statement in the commentary that accompanies the extracts—that in those days etiquette required that a man send flowers not directly to a married woman but to her husband. He can attest from his family records that this was not always the case, and he knows in which cases Proust sent flowers to the husband and in which, in fact, directly to the wife. With regard to the Williamses, however, he adds, Proust was always very correct. (See, for example, letter 3.) M. Lerossignol goes on to remark that Proust' despite his illness, did venture into the family flower shop: Lerossignol's grandmother counted thirty-two visits before 1912.
From the invoices of Proust's orders it is possible to know the names of those with whom Proust associated while staying at the vast Grand Hotel Cabourg, before his health worsened to such an extent that he confined himself permanently to Paris. M, Lerossignol has had the idea organizing a tour the still surviving villas of those to whom Proust sent flowers in Houlgate ordered from Au Jardin des Roses, the florist of M. Lerossignol's grandparents, who were also named Lerossignol.
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