EYRE & SPOTTISWOODE
As you will know from the book, Thérèse, A Portrait in Four Parts, the two sections, "Thérèse and the Doctor" and "Thérèse at the Hotel," are taken from a volume of short stories called Plongées which M. Mauriac published in 1938, and which had not previously been included in the narrative of the story of Thérèse Desqueyroux. They seem to me to be exceptionally interesting for a variety of reasons. First, they are technically superior in handling, I think, to either of the novels, i. e., they mark an increasing maturity in the writer's craftsmanship, and secondly because they throw a light on the buried portions of Thérèse's life, which have always excited the reader and which for many years seem to have troubled the author himself. You may remember that he inserted a fugitive incident in which Thérèse makes a brief appearance, in his novel, Ce qui etait Perdu, before these two stories were written.
It is impossible to read the story of Thérèse as it appears in the two novels only, without wondering what sort of use this strange creature made of her freedom [after her trial and acquittal for the attempted poisoning of her husband and his recovery and taking her to Paris to live by herself--ED.]; whether her impulse to destroy ever reappeared and whether she ever found the love for which, in a contorted form, she seems always to have sought.
In addition to its light on the character and story of Thérèse herself, the episode of Thérèse and the Doctor, which I personally think superior to the other, includes two other first-class portraits, that of the psychiatrist himself, half charlatan, half self-deceiver, and that of his wife. Only a master of the novel could have thrown such vivid light on the past and characters of three such different people in a few thousand words. . . .
It is quite difficult to get M. Mauriac to talk about his writing but I hope the foregoing notes will be of some interest to you.