“Rodmell was all gale and flood: these words are exact. The river overflowed…Often I could not face a walk.” Instead, she revises Mrs. Dalloway, “the chilliest part of the whole business of writing, the most depressing–exacting.” revision process: dislike of
She gets home from a trip to the South of France, and is characteristically self-involved and anti-social about a car accident she witnesses in London–the underclasses again.
Her friend, the painter Raverat, Jacques, has died. She remembers him for a complimentary letter he wrote to her about the proofs of Mrs. Dalloway, and she paraphrases Montaigne, Michel de: “it’s life that matters.”
She envies the style of another Frenchman Proust, Marcel, and writes about her blissful trip with Leonard to Cassis, France.
She has “bored into her oil well” this year–has more ideas, and more ability to set them down, than ever before. She has the hang of first drafts: “the actual writing being now like the sweep of a brush; I fill it up afterwards.” She finally has “faith” in her own novels, something new for her, she never before “thought them my own expression.”
Common Reader, The comes out almost at the same time as Mrs. Dalloway, and at first, she thinks it will sink like a stone. No comment from critics, or friends–until there is, and a lot of it is good.
Strachey, Lytton doesn’t like Mrs. Dalloway, though. Style and subject not in harmony, doesn’t like Clarissa, but also, “what can one call it, but genius?” He suggests she use her gifts to write something like Tristram Shandy instead. (Friends: writing advice of). On the other hand, he thinks The Common Reader is perfect. And she didn’t like Clarissa much either, but “one must dislike people in art without its mattering, unless indeed it is true that certain characters detract from the importance of what happens to them.” characters: likeability of and likeability of characters. Second time that subject has come up.
“It’s odd that when Clive and others… say it is a masterpiece, I am not much exalted; when Lytton picks holes, I get back into my working fighting mood, which is natural to me. I don’t see myself a success. I like the sense of effort better.” More for criticism of her writing: emotional effects of So far that’s enough, but I can see the tide is shifting from negative effects to positive–we’ll see if that has to be broken down later.
Common Reader, The starts doing so well, she gets more requests to write criticism. She likes the money, but is distracted by plans for To The Lighthouse. And so much to read. And plans for a book about obscure people in English history, that she never wrote. And then she overdoes it all, faints at her brother-in-law’s birthday party, and spends two of her eight planned writing weeks at Rodmell on bed rest with more of her headache. More subentries for illness… “Never mind. Arrange whatever pieces come your way. Never be unseated by the shying of that undependable brute, life, hag-ridden as she is by my own queer, difficult, nervous system.”
Reading: plans for, and more criticism, both hers, and by others of her. Bridges, Robert, Poet Laureate, “likes Mrs. Dalloway; says no one will read it; but it is beautifully written” —and so were women writers ever reviewed. How’s the legacy doing, Mr. Bridges?