3. "An Opuscule" (1909-1913)
Here, following his note to Zadig, Proust tells Hahn he will pay for the dog as a gift. He makes extensive use of “lansguage,” adding s’s, b’s and h’s to various words.
At the bottom of the letter, Proust includes a rhyming couplet where, in a rare boast, he predicts that his “opuscule” will overshadow the work of Paul Bourget and René Boysleve, two successful novelists of the era. “Opuscule,” a rare term meaning a work of small size, is a wry description of his already sprawling novel.
I’ve been so goods these last few days and always ups before 8 (a blie) that I am upshet that you didn’t come, and quite happy that you won’t come (the btruth). Work well my boy and be good to Zadig. But don’t go so far as to sings Zadig, dig dig dig, as you used to sings candle, dle dle dle, in such a lobely way for your dear Buncht […]
I whroste that you should be sent the ransom for your douog.
'I'm writing an opuscule
That makes Bourget puny and Boysleve minuscule'”
Marcel Proust, Letter to “bugniguls” [Reynaldo Hahn], [early Nov. 1911]. b 94M-48 (94), Houghton Library, Harvard University. Gift, Mrs. Bradley Martin, 1994.