1927

Here’s a good indexing illustration: on the first page of this year, Leonard replaced the word “Vita” with “X.”

Many people confuse indexes with concordances, which are lists of keywords found in the text.

But a good index maps the webs of concepts in a book. You can talk about death for a page without writing the word “death.”

An index also covers proper names, but if you ran keyword searches in this text for mentions of Sackville West, Vita, rather than pulling index entries while actually reading through the text page by page, you would miss this one.

I happen to be following along in the complete diaries, and so I noticed the redaction.

Virginia and Vita

I think he did it for his usual reason: Vita was still alive at the time of publication, and Virginia is saying things in her diary that she might not have said in person. But it’s a substantive mention–Virginia is evaluating Vita’s prose–so in it goes.

She finishes To The Lighthouse, is happy with it, and for once is not that anxious about reviews, just the opinions of her friends. Preorders (See sales ?) are over 1600, a record for her.

Ideas for her novel Orlando are coalescing in the form of a book called Jessamy Brides, The, a rather different idea she talks about at length, so I’m indexing both those titles and cross-referencing them.

She almost forgets that To The Lighthouse is coming out. When the reviews start coming she has a depressing one from Times Literary Supplement, The but then a slew of praise. “What is the use of saying one is indifferent to reviews when positive praise, though mingled with blame, gives one such a start on that…one feels flooded with ideas?”

Vita appears more often — Virginia and Leonard go for walks with her, go to the award ceremony where she is given a poetry prize, travel with her and her husband Harold to view the eclipse. This is more of a rest year, including her sudden plunge into writing Orlando (novel), which is one of her fun projects in between serious novels.

Outside of that she shops for houses, describes the village of Rodmell, socializes, plots for more income, and at the end of the year, reprimands herself for her narcissism–“am getting into the habit of flashy talk…to forget one’s own sharp absurd little personality, reputation and the rest of it, one should read; see outsiders; think more; write more logically; above all be full of work; and practise anonymity.”

#

 

 

1926

“At last, at last…I am now writing as fast and freely as I have written in the whole of my life.” This is the year of To the Lighthouse. She evaluates herself (more for self-appraisal), chats (conversations) with Moore, George E. at a party about Hardy and James and Conrad and Tolstoy and Brontë, Anne.

“But what is to become of all these diaries…if I died, what would Leo make of them?…Well, he should make up a book from them, I think; and then burn the body.”

(Dear Leonard, thank you for only taking the first half of that instruction to heart.)

April 30 exists in A Writer’s Diary… but it’s not in my paperback edition of the diaries! Why not? What else is left out? And in this entry she talks about a trip to Iwerne Minster, and about how “yesterday I finished the first part of To The Lighthouse, and today began the second.”

Her newfound fluency in writing confuses her — she is aware of the technical difficulties of what she wants to do, and is stunned when it comes easily: “the most difficult abstract piece of writing…I rush at it, and at once scatter out two pages. Is it nonsense, is it brilliance?”

The Hardys and their dog

A long account of a friendly visit to Thomas and Florence Hardy and Wessex, their dog. He knew her parents. She wants them to talk about books and writing, but they keep talking about the dog. Nothing new under the sun. At the end, she gets his autograph, which is awkward, and he misspells her last name. But her overall impression is a good one: “Freedom, ease, and vitality.”

In the next entry, she goes back to thinking about her own art, and becomes more of an indexing challenge (consciousness: transcription of )

reading: living authors –she rarely bothers. Even though she’s reading the classic Clarissa, and is bored by it, but feels it’s important for no clear reason. Reading a current novel, “My wonder is that entirely second rate work like this, poured out in profusion by at least 20 people yearly…has so much merit…it will not exist in 2026; but it has some existence now, which puzzles me a little.”

What would you look that up under? second rate writing? I’ll stick it there for now, and cross-reference it with popularity because I have a feeling people may look for it there. Though most of her thoughts on popularity so far, concern how much it matters to her. And authors: living at least for now.

And at long last, here is a bit where she notices her own snobbery, and how it harms her powers of observation (self-appraisal) “My instinct at once throws up a screen, which condemns them… but all this is a great mistake. These screens shut me out.”

I am happy for her. This is part of what makes her first-rate.

She had more hobbies than people mention–knitting of course, and here she is wanting to make a shell frame for a mirror. We all contain multitudes.

“After tapping my antennae in the air vaguely for an hour every morning I generally write with heat and ease until 12:30; and thus do my two pages.”  time, use of, productivity, there’s a few places to put that. She has a distracting, pleasant summer, but she gets the book done, and by November she’s into the revision process again, six pages a day, “much of it very sketchy and have to improvise on the typewriter.”

#