About the Collection

About the Collection

Marcel Schwob Photo

The Marcel Schwob Digital Collection is a digital publication of 72 previously unpublished letters concerning French literary critic and author Marcel Schwob.  Approximately 63 letters were written by Schwob to family members and an additional 9 letters were written to Schwob by colleagues. 

The collection also includes a digital version of Marcel Schwob: Correspondance Inédite (Droz 1985), edited by former BYU Professor and Schwob scholar John Alden Green.  With the addition of  Correspondance Inédite, the collection includes well over 300 letters written between 1877 – 1904. 

Although the letters in Correspondance Inédite are annotated, John Green carefully chose pertinent sections from each letter.  In a similar vein, each of the 72 previously unpublished letters in this digital publication include valuable metadata (see the document description accompanying each letter):  a summary that identifies important themes, names and places mentioned, and recipient’s names.  Much like John Green’s annotations and commentary, the metadata will direct researchers to significant elements from each letter and add further context.

Approximately half of the 72 previously unpublished letters are from Schwob to his mother (née Mathilde Cahun).  Mathilde was particularly strict with her children and placed a high value on their education.

Schwob “loved her [his mother] with a tenderness which was overshadowed by fear” (Meloney 25) 1 .

Schwob’s letters to his mother almost always include mention of his studies and school standings, and he eagerly offers explanations for any grades that fall short of perfection.

Schwob’s desire to please his mother from an early age is one of many important thematic elements derived from his personal correspondence.  These elements are not only intrinsically valuable by adding to our understanding of Schwob’s personal life, but they also offer new insights into his professional life.  For example, Schwob’s best known publication, Le Livre de Monelle (The Book of Monelle 1894), reflects nothing of his strict education.

The whimsical, child-like premise of the book was an outlet for Schwob’s “nostalgia for the childhood denied him by his precociousness and scholarly upbringing” (Dictionary of Literary Biography 247) 2 .

In addition to Schwob’s education, other thematic elements found in the collection include: family relationships, discussion of the family-owned newspapers (Le Phare de la Loire and Le Petit Phare),sickness, travel, and military experiences

The letters in this collection and a majority of those published in Correspondance Inédite were obtained by John Green.  His expertise and zeal for studying Schwob led him to create one of the most comprehensive Marcel Schwob Collections in the world. For more information, see “Why Schwob at BYU”.  

What It Isn’t and What It Should Be

The Marcel Schwob Digital Collection does not offer a digital version of all the original letters held in the Brigham Young University Marcel Schwob Memorial Collection.  (The annotated letters in Correspondance Inédite can be found in their entirety in the Memorial Collection.) 

In Correspondance Inédite, John Green set out to create a selection of letters and text that would offer “precious details” about Marcel Schwob’s life and career (Green 43) 3 .   This digital collection supplements that goal by offering previously unpublished letters alongside Correspondance Inédite, providing an effective research tool.

Marcel Schwob Adolescent Marcel Schwob (a gauche), W.G.C. Byvanck (a droite), Leon Daudet (au centre) Marcel Schwob Sketch


  1. Schwob, Marcel. The Book of Monelle.  Trans. William Brown Meloney V.  Indiana : Bobbs-Merrill, 1929.
  2. “Marcel Schwob (23 August 1867 – 26 February 1905).” Dictionary of Literary Biography: Nineteenth-Century French Fiction Writers: Naturalism and Beyond, 1860-1900. Ed. Catharine Savage Brosman. Vol. 123. Detroit; Gale Research Inc, 1992.
  3. Green, John Alden. Correspondance Inédite. Genève: Librairie Droz, 1985.

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