Random House Proust

After the response generated by the first post, I’ve decided to continue my look at cover designs for Proust, today examining those coming from Random House. While Penguin commissioned all new translations, Random House has chosen instead to revise what has traditionally been considered to be the standard English edition, first translated by C.K. Scott-Moncrieff in the 1920s.

In 1981, Terence Kilmartin published a revised edition of the text, correcting misinterpretations and toning down the purple prose that was not at all consistent with the way Proust actually wrote. The Kilmartin reworking was also the first English edition to incorporate the changes made in (what was then) the standard three-volume French edition, published in the Bibliothèque de la Pléiade in 1956. After the death of Kilmartin, D.J. Enright picked up where he left off, further refining the text, as well as incorporating the changes contained in the definitive four-volume Pléiade edition published between 1987 and 1989, the same edition upon which the new Penguin Proust as well as the single-volume edition that I’m currently reading are based.

First published in 1992, the six-volume Random House Proust has appeared with a series of different cover designs, in the UK under the Chatto & Windus and Vintage Classics imprints, and in the US under the Modern Library imprint. Presented here are the most recent Random House designs that can currently been found in the bookshops.

Vintage trade paperbacks from Random House UK:


Modern Library hardbacks from Random House USA:


Modern Library trade paperbacks from Random House USA:


Yet another case of British design coming out on top. Although the Modern Library hardbacks are all together a bit of class, the Modern Library paperbacks are certainly nothing to write home about. On the other hand, the Vintage Classics designs coming out of the UK really are quite beautiful; by far the best of the lot.

Missing from this post are the Chatto & Windus hardbacks from Random House UK, originally published in 1992. Apparently they are still available in Britain, but I was unable to find any cover images. If anyone out there has access to the jackets and a scanner, or is able to point me in the direction of some relevant image files, I would be most appreciative. [see update below]

Also, as I mentioned in the first post, in keeping with the continuing debookification of bookshops, especially in the anglo-saxon world, Random House is launching a line of Proust stationery this fall, something I honestly think we could do without. Between votive candles, sushi kits, picture frames and all the other worthless tat found in bookshops these days, it’s no wonder we ran out of ISBNs.

Update 2007-09-29:

Thanks to Ivan, a reader of this blog, and Amazon UK, I can present below two jacket images from the Random House UK Proust hardback edition issued by Chatto & Windus back in 1992. Very nice indeed.



~ by Thomas on 2007-Jul-14.

5 Responses to “Random House Proust”

  1. I like the Vintage paperbacks but my partner, who is the book designer in the family, didn’t really care for it. I have some Modern Library hardcovers from other authors and they are a certainly quality editions. The others in my reading group have the Modern Library paperback. I can say that the interior layout of the Modern Library paperback is a much better, more readable, than the Vintage paperback of a few years back.

    That’s an interesting cover for Vol 5 of the Modern Library paperback. I have a vague awareness about that volume and, now that I seen that cover, I do have to trudge ahead & reach Vol 5!

    BTW, having done some textual conversations, the prose of Scott-Moncrieff-Kilmartin-Enright is still quite purple compared to the latest translations. Unfortunately I don’t read French.

  2. AFAIK the Chatto & Windus hardbacks are no longer available – I’m writing from the UK. I wanted to buy a set of the DJ Enright Prousts in hardback and the Vintage paperbacks were the only editions I could find. I’ve heard some very bad things about the recent Penguin translation. I ended up buying the Random House set. I’m just starting Time Regained.

    Way back in 1992 I did buy vol 1 of the Chatto & Windus edition. I think their covers were really beautiful: Snow white hardback book; dust cover an abstract design in orange & yellow – looked like sunshine through marmalade. I’m away from home for a while, but when I get back I’ll send some photos.

    best wishes


  3. Thanks, Ivan. I look forward to seeing the images. Cheers.

  4. I finally got round to taking these photos. I’ve uploaded them to my old homepage. See http://www.iau.ukfsn.org/biblio/index.html, where there’s a link to the Proust photos and a link to this blog. Please take copies and use them as you wish.



  5. n.b.: the link tag above erroneously includes the comma.


    That’s better

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