Books: Obeying Pain

MARCEL PROUST: SELECTED LETTERS, 1880-1903

Edited by Philip Kolb Translated by Ralph Manheim Doubleday; 376 pages; $19.95

Ma chère Maman,

Although we are both in Paradise, I cannot keep from writing you these incessant, voluminous, tormented letters. Forgive me, Maman, but you know as well as anyone that although I am now an immortal I am also still an asthmatic and get winded easily. So it is only in my writing that I can take the long breaths necessary for sustenance.

As the proverb has it, the more things change, the more they are the same. Even up here, my health is...

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