This unprecedented approach does not convince the publishers. In 1912 and 1913 Fasquelle, NRF and Ollendorff refuse to publish the first story titled Du Côté de chez Swann. Grasset pushed by its director Louis Brun agrees provided that all the expenses are paid by the author. The book is released in November 1913.
As agreed Proust ensures his own promotion by preparing typed letters for newspapers. He does not identify himself as the author of this marketing campaign which includes enthusiastic opinions about himself. He certainly believed in his own genius.
As early as January 1914 André Gide acting for the NRF and for Gallimard understands that his refusal from the previous year was a major strategic error. In March the NRF makes an offer to Proust to publish the remainder to come of the series. The offer will be accepted but Proust will remain very grateful to Brun for the initial agreement which had opened to himself the gates of fame.
The first edition of Du Côté de chez Swann includes five copies on very prestigious Japan paper which Proust offers and inscribes to his best friends. The number 1 presented to Léon Daudet was sold for € 600K including premium by Sotheby's on December 18, 2013 over a lower estimate of € 200K.
The number 5 offered to Louis Brun was truffled by his recipient with several precious autograph letters of the author about his relations with publishers and newspapers during that decisive period from March to May 1914. A bibliophile later bound them with the book. This volume has just resurfaced. It is estimated € 400K for sale by Sotheby's in Paris on October 30, lot 151.
SOLD for € 540K including premium