Sudip Bose recounts the little known relationship between Reynaldo Hahn and the famous French writer at The American Scholar.
Throughout his life, many famous people were drawn to Hahn. When he met Proust, however, at the home of the artist Madeleine Lemaire in 1894, the writer was a fledgling artist of little renown. Proust was three years Hahn’s senior, and the two had deep mutual interests in music, painting, and literature. During the two years that their romance bloomed, they saw each other nearly every day, embarking on vacations in Venice and Brittany. Even after the affair ended, they remained good friends. It seems clear that Hahn was conflicted about his sexuality: he remained in the closet, had relationships with women, and was scathing about homosexuality in his correspondence. Still, the letters to and from Proust, those on auction today, reveal a touching, if veiled affection. In a letter dated March 1896, Proust writes: “I want you to be here all the time but as a god in disguise, whom no mortal would recognize.” “Mon petit Reynaldo” is how Proust addresses his friend, upon whom the protagonist of his sprawling, autobiographical, unfinished novel Jean Santeuil is based.
Read more at The American Scholar