Category Archives: Diaries and Journals

With Long Rests

That portrait of Gerard Hopkins in the Lit. Sup., so quiet, so thoughtful, so almost prettily devout. Strange to think that many, many years ago he actually sat in that position, with folded hands (although they are not there), with … Continue reading

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Cataract of the Spirit

The passage below, Beckett rehashing Schopenhauer, is from Mark Nixon’s study of Beckett’s tour of Nazi Germany, Samuel Beckett’s German Diaries 1936-1937. My library copy has to go back today. They come with a price tag suitable only for institutions, … Continue reading

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Reading Alix’s Journal

There is a voyeuristic aspect to reading journals and diaries, a suggestion of breaching someone’s privacy, eavesdropping on supposedly private thoughts. In the case of published diaries, particularly those read as literary texts, this encroachment is neutralised with the knowledge … Continue reading

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Hôtel de la Louisiane

There is plenty about Cyril Connolly that I dislike, particularly his crushing Waugh-like snobbery, but he could turn a phrase, not half as exquisitely as he would have wished, but his writing has elegance and soul. Today, in Paris, Connolly … Continue reading

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The Deeps of Time

I saw here more clearly than anywhere that it is impossible to separate layers of culture, that they interpenetrate, that the earlier cult shines through that of the present, and through that earlier cult shines a cult more ancient still. … Continue reading

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Need Need Need

Below is an extended quotation from Olivia Laing’s The Trip to Echo Spring. The book is a beautifully written, lovingly researched, fascinating account of why writers drink. It is one of those discursive, genre-busting books that I enjoy so much. … Continue reading

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That Smell and Notes From a Prison by Sonallah Ibrahim

Suspected to be the iceberg that sank the RMS Titanic, there is supposedly a red smudge, like the Titanic’s red hull, near its base at the waterline. In iceberg jargon this would be termed a pinnacle, an iceberg with one … Continue reading

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Recent reading: Angel, Nehamas

There are several reviews around of Katherine Angel’s Unmastered: A Book on Desire, Most Difficult to Tell ranging from bizarre to intriguing. Each offers an idiosyncratic reading that reveals as much about the reviewer as about the book. As Rumi … Continue reading

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A Woman Divided

Elaine Showalter makes a link in The Female Malady between the diagnosis of schizophrenia and the idea of a woman dividing herself in two by being both the surveyor and the surveyed, quoting from John Berger’s Ways of Seeing: “A … Continue reading

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Is this the text of an author or a madwoman?

Yet it’s so impossible to shut out all the voices. Not only: no one will read you (Nietzsche: non legor, non legar.) But: you are mad. When you are told that you are ill, that is something you internalize. Days … Continue reading

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