A WRITER’S DIARY

7 Jan

 The Hogarth Press 1953 by Leonard Woolf;
Copyright renewal 1981 by **Quentin Bell and ***Angelica Garnett.
Harvest Book . Harcourt, Inc.
Soft cover – 351 pages

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Last night I began rereading excerpts from Virginia Woolf’s diary. Leonard, her husband, wrote the Preface and edited out all entries that did not pertain to her writing life, “The diary is too personal to be published as a whole during the lifetime of many people referred to in it….” and compiled a most extraordinary portrait of Virginia Woolf during the time span between 1915 and 1941 – four days before her death.

In each entry there is a morsel, a crumb to be tasted, leaving the reader yearning for more of the whole (she did not see herself as a good writer. Always second guessing her own worth):

“Monday, August 19th (1929)
I suppose dinner interrupted. And I opened this book in another train of mind-to record the blessed fact that for good or bad I have just set the last correction to *Women and Fiction, or A Room of One’s Own. I shall never read it again I suppose. Good or bad? Has an uneasy life in it I think: you feel the creature arching in its back and galloping on, though as usual much is watery and flimsy and pitched in too high a voice. ”

“Saturday, April 11th (1931)
……..I mean the writing is free enough; it’s the repulsiveness of correcting that nauseates me. And the cramming in and the cutting out. And the articles and more articles are asked for. Forever I could write articles. But I have no pen-well, it will just make a mark. And not much to say, or rather too much and not the mood.”

Those who know me, know that I am a Woolfian, and have always been attracted to the Bloomsbury circle of literati and artists. I have no difficulty, at all, imagining myself as one of them.

If you are a writer, published or not, if you aspire to become a writer or simply just write in a journal of your own – this book must own you.

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 “But when the self speaks to the self, who is speaking? The entombed soul, the spirit driven in, in, in to the central catacomb; the self that took the veil and left the world – a coward perhaps, yet somehow beautiful, as it flits with its lantern restlessly up and down the dark corridors.” –Virginia Woolf

Second hand books are wild books, homeless books; they have come together in vast flocks of variegated feather, and have a charm which the domesticated volumes of the library lack.” -Virginia Woolf

* A Room of Ones Own is a compilation of feminist essays – self published in 1929 through The Hogarth Press;

** 1910-1996 son of Clive (art critic. Member of the Bloomsbury group) and Vanessa Bell (sister of Virginia Woolf);

*** 1918-2012 daughter of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant (painter. Member of the Bloomsbury group)

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