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Book Proust gave to his lover sells for world record 1.5 million euros

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A copy of Marcel Proust’s “Swann’s Way” which he dedicated to his “little darling”, sold for 1.51 million euros ($1.7 million) in Paris Friday — a world record for a French book, auction house Sotheby’s said.

The rare copy of the first volume of the French writer’s masterpiece, “Remembrance of Things Past”, had been expected to go for between 600,000 and 800,000 euros.

It smashed the previous record for a piece of French literature held by the poet Charles Baudelaire’s “Les Fleurs du mal” (“The Flowers of Evil”), a copy of which sold for 775,000 euros nine years ago.

The copy of “Swann’s Way” is the very first from a numbered luxuriously bound edition of the novel that Proust paid for himself and gave as a gift to his beloved Lucien Daudet.

It came with a touching dedication from Proust to his “little darling”.

“You are not in this book. You are too much in my heart that I could you never portray you objectively. You will never be (a mere) ‘character’, because you are the better half of its author,” he wrote.

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The novel includes the famous “madeleine moment”, when the taste of a little almond cake dipped in tea sets off a flood of nostalgic memories for the book’s narrator.

AFP/File / STEPHANE DE SAKUTINThe late Pierre Berge’s library, was one of the world’s richest private collections

It was the star lot in the fourth part of the mammoth sale of the library of the late French fashion mogul Pierre Berge.

The co-founder of the Yves Saint Laurent fashion empire put together one of the world’s greatest private collections of rare and antiquarian books.

– Proust’s private passion –

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They are being sold off in a series of high-profile auctions which began last year and are set to continue in 2019.

Friday’s sale, which included a treasury of classic works from the Renaissance, hit a final tally of more than 8.1 million euros, double the estimate.

“I am very happy. The market has completely endorsed Pierre Berge’s taste,” antiquarian books expert Benoit Forgeot, who helped organise the sale, told AFP.

He said that story of Proust’s dedication to the writer and painter Daudet was a “novel inside a novel”.

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Proust never admitted his homosexuality, although the younger Daudet was clearly his lover.

After Proust’s death in 1922 Daudet sold the novel, one of a special run of only five books, but kept the dedication which was written on a separate piece of paper.

He gave it to his doctor just before his own death in 1946, Forgeot said. The medic spent the rest of his life trying in vain to track down and reunite it with the book.

It was Berge who finally managed to reunite the book and the dedication.

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– Renaissance masterpieces –

Bidding was also fierce on an illustrated version of Plutarch’s “Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans” from 1508 (671,780 euros), and a 1580 edition of French philosopher Michel de Montaigne’s “Essays” went for 682,000 euros.

A 16th-century botanical work by the Swiss naturalist Leonhart Fuchs sold for 425,000 euros.

Revolutionary tomes by Karl Marx and the Russian anarchist Mikhail Bakunin also went under the hammer, with a proof of Marx’s “Das Kapital” which includes the communist thinker’s corrections making 164,288 euros, more than twice the predicted price.

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Berge, who set up the Yves Saint Laurent fashion house with the eponymous designer, his longtime lover, was a supporter of left-wing causes and gay rights.

He died in September 2017 after making sure that his and Saint Laurent’s fortune would go to their philanthropic foundation.

The vast art collection the couple put together was sold off in what was dubbed “the sale of the century” in 2009 for 340 million euros ($409 million at the time).

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Iowa Republican backtracks after hinting Kellyanne Conway is leaving the White House

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Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) hinted that Kellyanne Conway may be on her way out of the White House for violating federal law.

The Iowa Republican was asked to comment on findings by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel that Conway had repeatedly violated the Hatch Act by promoting political campaigns during public TV appearances as a senior adviser to President Donald Trump.

"Obviously there has been a commission that has decided that's not appropriate, so she is being removed from that position," Ernst told WHO-TV. "We certainly want to be working towards the good of all Americans. Obviously, she wants to support the president's initiatives. She is an adviser -- or was an adviser -- but she used her position differently."

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We have to prepare for this Trump nightmare scenario as Republican power-grabbers grow bolder

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Polls currently show that all the major Democratic presidential candidates are pulling way ahead of Donald Trump, and while Democrats should take nothing for granted — Trump will run a campaign so nasty it will likely put 2016 to shame — there is at least some reason hope that Americans will turn out in large numbers and that Trump will be soundly defeated in 2020. That victory would be both exciting and an enormous relief, a moment when we all collectively begin to believe that the national nightmare is ending.

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Jon Stewart’s journey from satirist to political advocate is no laughing matter

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When Jon Stewart quit the Daily Show, the satirical news and comedy show he hosted for 16 years until August 2015, he explained to his replacement, Trevor Noah, that he was tired – and angry at the state of politics and political discourse in the US. As Noah reported:

He said ‘I’m leaving because I’m tired.’ And he said, ‘I’m tired of being angry.’ And he said, ’I’m angry all the time. I don’t find any of this funny. I do not know how to make it funny right now, and I don’t think the host of the show, I don’t think the show deserves a host who does not feel that it is funny.‘

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