Synopses & Reviews
Their friend Marcel Proust had killed himself after the fall in diamond shares, a collapse that annihilated a part of his fortune.
This is the first-ever translation into English of this startling tour-de-force by one of the twentieth century’s greatest writers.
The Lemoine Affair was inspired by the real-life French scandal involving Henri Lemoine, who claimed he could manufacture diamonds from coal and convinced numerous people—including officers of the De Beers diamond mine company and Proust himself—to invest in the scheme. In a series of pastiches—imitations written in the style of other writers—Proust tells the story of the embarrassment rippling across high society Paris in the wake of the scandal, poking fun at himself (in one story, a character declares that Marcel Proust is so embarrassed he’s suicidal) while lampooning some of France’s greatest writers, including Flaubert, Balzac, and Saint-Simon.
Full of sophisticated wit and dazzling wordplay, and rife with allusions to his friend and fictional characters, many Proust scholars see the dead-on mimicry of The Lemoine Affair—written soon after Proust’s rejection of society life—as the work by which he honed his own unique, masterly voice.
The Art of The Novella Series
Too short to be a novel, too long to be a short story, the novella is generally unrecognized by academics and publishers. Nonetheless, it is a form beloved and practiced by literature's greatest writers. In the Art Of The Novella series, Melville House celebrates this renegade art form and its practitioners with titles that are, in many instances, presented in book form for the first time.
It is surprising but true: a polished, mature work by Marcel Proust that is unavailable in English translation-until now. In this overlooked comedic gem based on a true story, the author considered one of the most important writers of the twentieth century tells the tale of a con artist who claimed he could manufacture diamonds, with each chapter of the tale written in the style of a different French writer.
This delicious spoof of Balzac, Flaubert, Chateaubriand, and others is presented in a sparkling, nuanced translation by the award-winning Charlotte Mandell, exclusively for The Art of the Novella series.
About the Author
was born in the Parisian suburb of Auteuil in 1971 to well-to-do parents. As a child he developed severe asthma and was closely watched over by his mother in what became a neurotically dependent relationship (he would live with her until her death when he was 35). Graduating from the prestigious École des Sciences Politiques, he worked briefly as a lawyer, but soon became better known as a relentless social climber who wrote occasionally. However, upon the death of his mother—and his inheritance of a fortune worth millions—Proust abandoned high society. Dedicating himself to writing, he retreated into the bedroom of his Paris apartment, which he had lined with cork soundproofing so he could sleep all day and write all night. His reputation, however, clouded his new seriousness, and no one would publish the first installment of his seven-volume, stream-of-consciousness novel Remembrance of Things Past
. (André Gide, then an editor at Gallimard, called it too “snobbish.”) Proust thereby published it himself to great success. His fame as a modernist master grew with each subsequent installment, but his health simultaneously declined, and the final three volumes were published after his death in 1922 of pneumonia.
Charlotte Mandell has won the Modern Language Association Prize in translation. Among other titles she has translated for The Art of The Novella series are Gustave Flaubert’s A Simple Heart, Guy de Maupassant's The Horla and Honoré de Balzac’s The Girl with the Golden Eyes.