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So we had the four-volume Havelock Ellis and the four-volume
Marcel Proust on our growing backlist.
Sets were quite the thing in those days. You'd get a
complete set of Dickens, a complete set of Hardy. People
then had room for sets. The reason big sets are virtually
obsolete now is that people haven't room in their apartments
for them, and they no longer want a complete set of Kipling or
a complete set of Hawthorne or a complete set of Anatole France,
anyway. We used as a design for our new edition of Proust
something I'd seen when I was in Paris at one of the modern
expositions. Paris was way ahead of us at that time in beautiful
modernistic bindings. And Proust sold as he had never sold
before. Then he provided us with another great by-product. We
started putting him in our Modern Library. Now all of Proust
is available in that inexpensive edition.
Did you ever meet Proust?
No, he was dead before I got going. One of the things
Proust reminds me of is this: I had read Swann's Way earlier,
but I read all the rest of it in Nassau when I was there with
Sylvia. So to me Proust and Sylvia are intertwined, because
after she fell asleep I would read Proust by the hour, happy
as a clam at high tide.
Would you like to go into the Ulysses battle or do you
think we should wait?
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