Page one! Leonard sectioned this book by year, I’ll try to follow that pattern.
Woolf was thirty-six. She had been married six years, the Hogarth Press was one year old, she had published The Voyage Out three years earlier, and would publish Night and Day the following year.
Six pages. In the complete diaries, this year takes up 136, two handwritten volumes.
So many poets! Main headings for each name, another for poetry, and for now, maybe, another for poets. Three on the first page: Rossetti, Byron, and Leconte de Lisle, who she was buying “great quantities” of. I’d never heard of him. He seems to be barely translated, was she buying his books in French?
[I get distracted looking this up, fail to find much right away, but notice an interesting book on Woolf and Colette, and order it from my public library.]
Here he is:
À l’heure de silence et d’ivresses profondes,
Où, vers les horizons, le voyageur divin,
Se penchant sur les vertes ondes,
Baigne ses pieds lassés du céleste chemin ;
Oof. Doubt I’ll look him up again, but for consistency’s sake, in he goes.
Woolf says that if she were bringing a case against God, she would call Christina Rossetti as one of the first witnesses. Through her devotion to religion, Rossetti starved herself of love “which meant also life,” and “castrated” her poetry. Main heading for religion. And one for marriage. And maybe talent, literary since she discusses Rossetti’s here.
On the next page, Woolf has just read the latest copy of the English Review and is disgusted with Katharine Mansfield’s story, Bliss. After shredding Mansfield’s character and abilities (I thought Leonard edited out all the hurtful parts? Oh. Mansfield was dead by then), she paragraphs and moves on to Byron. “He has at least the male virtues.” Wow, Virginia. She thinks the Album is terrible but the form of Don Juan is a flexible wonder and I’m putting in a main heading for form, literary because this is Virginia Woolf.
She wonders why there is so much pleasure in finishing a book she enjoys (main heading for reading), and tells us how Maynard Keynes would separate off the ads at the end of a book so that he would know how much he had to get through. I am always counting pages as I read, even if I enjoy the book, it seems to be a common impulse, human nature’s completism. And part of why some of us don’t love ebooks; knowing what percentage you’ve read is not the same as knowing the page count. Keynes might not have liked them either. “Useful for long trips,” he might have said.
And now here is Sophocles! And Emily Bronte! Social conventions. Electra, trapped in the house. Milton! Shakespeare!
Condensation effect of editing of course, but still, the density. This is why she was rarely short of conversation material. Six pages: seventy-four index entries.