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Reviewed by:
  • Dictionnaire Proust-Ruskin by Jérôme Bastianelli
  • Cynthia Gamble
Dictionnaire Proust-Ruskin. Par Jérôme Bastianelli. (Bibliothèque proustienne, 20.) Paris: Classiques Garnier, 2017. 784 pp.

Jérôme Bastianelli, Directeur général délégué du Musée du quai Branly-Jacques Chirac, music critic and biographer of Mendelssohn and Tchaikovsky, has emerged as a foremost scholar of Ruskin and Proust with a seemingly boundless passion for these two writers. Bastianelli's magisterial Proust Ruskin: 'La Bible d'Amiens', 'Sésame et les lys' et autres textes (Paris: Robert Laffont, 2015) has now been complemented by this impressive Dictionnaire, an important encyclopaedia teasing out and referencing points of convergence and associations between these two writers, presented essentially through the prism of Proust and his writings. The names of Proust and Ruskin are inextricably linked through Proust's interpretational translations of The Bible of Amiens and Sesame and Lilies — published respectively as La Bible d'Amiens (1904) and Sésame et les lys (1906). The Dictionnaire comprises 446 entries of varying length, from Abbeville to Yoshida. In his Introduction, Bastianelli summarizes the diverse range of materials: 'les villes, les peintres, les monuments que Proust a connus, ou voulu connaître, sous l'influence de Ruskin; les auteurs qui ont étudié les liens entre les deux écrivains; les thèmes majeurs par lesquels se révèlent leurs affinités; les sujets que Proust illustre, dans son œuvre ou sa correspondance, par des références […] à l'auteur des Peintres modernes; les personnes de son entourage auxquelles Proust a parlé de Ruskin […]; les idées ébauchées […] qui viendront irriguer la Recherche' (p. 11). Not surprisingly, there is a strong focus on translation, translators of Ruskin's works (Émile Cammaerts, Mathilde Crémieux, George Elwall, Robert de La Sizeranne, Émile Peltier), and critical reviews of Proust's translations. A substantial entry, 'Erreurs de traduction', fills any translator with dread, but in this case Bastianelli points out that some errors attributed to Proust are in fact by Ruskin, whereas others originated in Proust's reading of Buffon's Histoire naturelle. Up-to-date information gleaned from previously unknown letters and manuscripts, released onto the market at auctions with their details recorded in the accompanying catalogues, enriches the already extensive corpus. New light is shed on the expanded role of Gabriel Mourey in assisting Proust with his translations. Of particular interest is the discovery and re-attribution of a letter from Proust to Mourey in 1904 that was erroneously dated 1909, and described as being addressed to Abel Hermant in a Paris sale catalogue in March 2015. 'Dux', the enigmatic title Proust gave to Cahier 71, is revealed as having its genesis in Ruskin's observation of [End Page 625] this Latin word on a mosaic in St Mark's Basilica, Venice. An entry on Zipporah would have completed the alphabet: however, she can be found within 'Idolâtrie', 'Swann', and 'Botticelli'. Immersed in this Prousto-Ruskinian labyrinth, Bastianelli weaves a multitude of interconnecting threads into a dense, rich tapestry of many hues, thereby intensifying the closeness of the two writers. It is fitting that this well-researched, intercultural work was awarded the Prix de la Madeleine d'Or by the Cercle littéraire proustien de Cabourg-Balbec in 2017.

Cynthia Gamble
University of Exeter


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