There is some attentiveness to form here, and to the polite conventions of twentieth-century letter writing, but there is fluidity, too — some element of lived experience that cannot be shaped into the narrative arc of a novel or bound by the stylistic rules of poetry ...letters are inflected by fine observations and moments of deep empathy. They are suffused with the intimate textures of daily life — flowers and fragrance — and allow us an insight into the larger social context of the time, with reports of the wounded returning from war ...elegant, charming, tender; occasionally hastily scribbled with heavy underlinings, as seen in the facsimiles; sometimes accompanied by tasteful gifts of books, roses and carnations, even pheasants ...adds greatly to our understanding of Proust’s life and work.
As long as there are apartments, there will be walls to paper with cork; neighbor will be set against neighbor. But Proust — who visited Mrs. Williams upstairs at least once — was always charming and gracious, his humor seasoned with just a dash of passive aggression ... Letters to His Neighbor, which contains notes written between 1908 and 1918, is a trifle overpriced — twenty-three dollars for two dozen of the briefest missives! A certain kind of person will purchase it for her bathroom. But it is, in at least one instance, enlightening ... Life goes on, even in wartime, but that the 'little tiny raps' of the valet de chambre did not prevent Proust from writing is extraordinary.
...in this sad/funny book of letters from Marcel Proust to his neighbor, should resonate with any city dweller who has ever been subjected to noise from without and despair from within ... He [Proust] remains meticulous and articulate in all things, though he does ignore punctuation ...foreword by Proust scholar Jean-Yves Tadié and the afterword by celebrated French translator Lydia Davis serve as codes to these letters, through which we catch a glimpse of the writer’s idiosyncratic domestic life...note contains all of the pathos of feeling at the mercy of one’s neighbors, its specificity, its agitation, its deliberate formality ... The pretext of these letters may be noise, but the context is war, and the subtext is loss. Proust is seeking solace in the domestic and carrying on.