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This article is taken from PN Review 53, Volume 13 Number 3, January - February 1987.

A Letter to my Successor (I) Elisabeth Russell Taylor

No doubt you would agree with me that there is no end to scholarship, no unemployment in this field. Just as soon as one man's view has reached a particular conclusion it excites in another man a view to the contrary, or one at a tangent. Just when we confidently assume all available evidence has been amassed, a new document is discovered and all previous scholarship is made redundant and a queue of budding researchers forms to make reassessments. Scholars depend upon publication for their ascent up the academic ladder and publishers depend upon their findings for financial profit. The pleasures of the mind are as liable to corruption as any others.

The general reader of Proust finds it hard to believe that by 1971, the centenary of his birth, over one thousand books and articles relating to his life and work had been published in the English language alone, and is astonished by the suggestion that in all probability this figure would rise to three thousand by the turn of the century. What more could be written about a man who died at the age of fifty-two; a man who did not have the health and time to write more than two novels, and a handful of essays, stories and prefaces? It was a question often put to me; indeed, during my guardianship of the Foundation it ranked as the one most often posed. And if things had not proceeded quite as they did, I have ...


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