EXPERIMENTAL WRITINGS AND PROJECTS

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David Zwirner Books

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Paperback, 4.25 x 7 in. / 64 pgs / 8 color.

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Catalog: SPRING 2017 p. 63   

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ISBN 9781941701508 TRADE
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Marcel Proust's imaginary tour of the Louvre's Chardins and Rembrandts contains the seeds of his magnum opus to come.

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Chardin and Rembrandt

By Marcel Proust. Translated by Jennie Feldman. Afterword by Alain Madeleine-Perdrillat.

“Only a petty mind, an artist who at most speaks and dresses as such, looks solely for people in whom he recognizes the harmonious proportions of allegorical figures. For the true artist, as for the natural scientist, every type is interesting, and even the smallest muscle has its importance.” --Marcel Proust

Long overlooked in Proust’s posthumously published writings, Chardin and Rembrandt, written when he was only 24 years old, not only reemphasizes the importance of visual art to his development, but contains the seeds of his later work. Submitted in 1895 by Proust to the newspaper Revue hebdomadaire (it was rejected), this essay is much more than a straightforward piece of art criticism. It is a literary experiment in which an unnamed narrator gives advice to a young man suffering from melancholy, taking him on an imaginary tour through the Louvre where his readings of Chardin imbue the everyday world with new meaning, and his ruminations on Rembrandt take his melancholic pupil beyond the realm of mere objects.
Published for the first time as a stand-alone volume and newly translated, this edition, part of the David Zwirner Books ekphrasis series, aims to introduce a wider audience to one of Proust’s most important pieces on art. "For the true artist," as Proust writes, "as for the natural scientist, every type is interesting, and even the smallest muscle has its importance." The same could be said of the author’s own work—every essay has its own crucial place in the formation of his groundbreaking oeuvre.
The afterword by renowned Proust scholar Alain Madeleine-Perdrillat, originally published in the French by Le Bruits du Temps, is an impassioned argument in favor of returning to the lost paths of Proust’s early thinking. It sees, in the passage from Chardin’s world of objects to Rembrandt’s contemplative paintings, a movement toward the radical interiority for which Proust would later become widely celebrated as a novelist. Written at the beginning of his literary career, Chardin and Rembrandt gestures back to some of Proust’s earliest notes on art, while creating space for what was to come.


Marcel Proust (1871–1922) is best known for his novel À la recherche du temps perdu (In Search of Lost Time), which was published in seven volumes between 1913 and 1927, and is considered one of the most important works of the 20th century.

Jennie Feldman is a freelance writer and translator. She has written two collections of poems, The Lost Notebook (2005) and Swift (2012), and translated Jacques Réda’s poetry, Treading Lightly: Selected Poems 1961–1975 (2005), as well as his autobiographical work, The Mirabelle Pickers (Aller aux mirabelles) (2012). She is co-editor and translator, with Stephen Romer, of Into the Deep Street: Seven Modern French Poets, 1938–2008 (2009).

Alain Madeleine-Perdrillat teaches at the Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art (INHA) and is the author of an important monograph on Georges Seurat (1990), a study of the letters of Nicolas de Staël (2003), and numerous articles and essays on literature, painting, and photography. He served as the director of communication for the Réunion des musées nationaux for many years.

PRAISE AND REVIEWS

Hyperallergic

Thomas Micchelli

The tactic Proust deploys is a succession of extraordinarily close readings of the paintings, in language so luminous that the text easily embodies the series’ title, ekphrasis, or the translation of visual art into poetry, often through objective description.

Artnet

Jonathon Sturgeon

. . . amusing, memorable books. . .

Vulture

Rachel Corbett

The Top Ten Art Books of 2016. . .One gleans in the youthful text how Proust began his perceptual education, translating from art into prose the “brilliant, compelling language” of Chardin and the “gleam and frisson” of Rembrandt.

Chardin and Rembrandt

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