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A Writer's Diary (1953)

de Virginia Woolf

Altres autors: Leonard Woolf (Editor)

Altres autors: Mira la secció altres autors.

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1,0611114,125 (4.19)39
An invaluable guide to the art and mind of Virginia Woolf, drawn by her husband from the personal record she kept over a period of twenty-seven years. Included are entries that refer to her own writing, others that are clearly writing exercises; accounts of people and scenes relevant to the raw material of her work; and comments on books she was reading. Edited and with a Preface by Leonard Woolf; Indices.… (més)
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Más allá de una versión mutilada o censurada de los diarios íntimos de la escritora Viginia Woolf, los textos que forman este Diario de una escritora resultan imprescindibles para una comprensión del método e intención de la novelista inglesa. Dudas y temores, constancia y honestidad, compromiso y desánimo conforman estas páginas como diario íntimo. Nuestra suerte reside en encontrar del mismo modo, en la selección de Leonard Woolf, rastros y testimonios de las impresiones de la autora sobre la concepción de sus obras. ( )
  BibliotecaUNED | Dec 1, 2017 |
Oh, I want this edition too. ( )
  laurenbufferd | Nov 14, 2016 |
I am always a little cautious with letter or diary collections – I can’t quite ever rid myself of the idea that I am completely the wrong audience. Letters and diaries have a very specific audience – often rooted in the time they were written, and the writers never intended, never dreamed perhaps that they would be being read by random strangers on buses, fifty, sixty or seventy years on. Still we can’t help but be fascinated can we – to read words never intended for us, left behind by those we still revere.

Diaries are difficult to review. Where to start? A Writer’s Diary really is a wonderful reading experience, Virginia Woolf seems to have been incapable of writing a poor sentence, though she was horribly hard on herself. From the first entry in this diary dated 1918 to the final entry – 1941 just three weeks before her death, we see something of her private inner world, from the books she was reading, the words she was herself writing to the people she encountered.

“One out to say something about Peace Day, I suppose, though whether it’s worth taking a new nib for that purpose I don’t know. I am sitting wedged into the window and so catch almost on my head the steady drip of rain which is pattering on the leaves. In ten minutes or so the Richmond procession begins. I fear there will be few people to applaud the town councillors dressed up to look dignified and march through the streets, I’ve a sense of Holland covers on the chairs; of being left behind when everyone’s in the country. I’m desolate, dusty, and disillusioned.”

When Virginia Woolf died in 1941 she left behind her the diaries which she had kept intermittently since 1915. In her diaries Virginia Woolf, had recorded what she did, what she thought and the impressions she had of the people around her. She also recorded her struggles as a writer, her hopes, fears, inspirations and experiments. Frequently her struggles, so exhaustive they made her ill. One of the uses Virginia made of her diary – Leonard Woolf explains in his preface – is that she would commune with herself about her books. She discusses sometimes briefly, sometimes at length her characters, her use of plot, form, even the titles she will give her books come in for scrutiny.

Some years after her death it fell to her husband, Leonard Woolf to edit twenty-seven years’ worth of diaries, it must have been quite a task. He realised that there were parts that could not be published until after people referred to in them had died. However, there was still lots of wonderful material, waiting to be discovered by her readers, and Leonard Woolf concentrated on those entries which particularly referred to Virginia Woolf’s writing. In these entries, we see the woman Virginia was, we feel her frustration as she wrestles with her writing, driving herself on, remorselessly sometimes, it is quite simply a wonderful portrait, painted by Virginia herself.

“So I have to create the whole thing afresh for myself each time. Probably all writers now are in the same boat. It is the penalty we pay for breaking with tradition, and the solitude makes the writing more exciting though the being read less so. One ought to sink to the bottom of the sea, probably, and live alone with one’s words.”

We see, Virginia elated when Morgan (that’s E M Forster to you) responded favourably to one of her works. Anxious about reviews that will inevitably appear whenever a new book was published – telling herself she wouldn’t care – she clearly did.

“My mind turned by anxiety, or other cause, from its scrutiny of blank paper, is like a lost child–wandering the house, sitting on the bottom step to cry.”

Alongside the detailed life of a writer – which is wonderfully readable, we catch glimpses of her life, life in London and at Rodmell, holidays to France and Italy. She records details of a slightly bizarre meeting she had with Thomas Hardy his wife Florence and their dog in 1926. She reads voraciously, and widely, is saddened by the death of Arnold Bennett. Life and death are a constant presence in these diaries, every bit as important as in her fiction. Virginia reports on the deaths of various figures; Strachey, Hardy and Roger Fry among others.

The woman who gave us Septimus Smith, who wrote Three Guineas was a woman deeply affected by war. She had been somewhat traumatised by the reports from the Front during The First World War. Here we see her, a woman in her fifties, living through another terrible war, struggling to make sense of it.

“Walking today (Nessa’s birthday) by Kingfisher pool saw my first hospital train – laden, not funereal but weighty, as if not to shake bones: something – what is the word I want – grieving and tender and heavy laden and private – bringing our wounded back carefully through the green fields at which I suppose some looked. Not that I could see them. And the faculty for seeing in imagination always leaves me suffused with something partly visual, partly emotional, I can’t, though it’s very pervasive catch it when I come home – the slowness, cadaverousness, grief of the long heavy train, taking its burden through the fields. Very quietly it slid into the cutting at Lewes. Instantly wild duck flights of aeroplanes came over head; manoeuvered; took up positions and passed over Caburn.”

Although I did a bit of dipping in and out – I did read another short novel while reading this collection – I did pretty much read this collection straight through – although it took the best part of a week. On reflection, it is probably not the best way to read these diary extracts – although I found myself more compelled and constantly drawn back to the book – Virginia Woolf’s testimony to her own creativity and triumphs is endlessly readable and endlessly quotable, as are her vulnerabilities. Forgive the wealth of quotes – I couldn’t help myself. I was amused by her preoccupation with her age – she mentions it quite often – sometimes on her birthday – but at other time too like this from April 1937.

“I was thinking between 3 and 4 this morning, of my 55 years. I lay awake so calm, so content, as if I’d stepped off the whirling world into a deep blue quiet space and there open eyed existed, beyond harm; armed against all that can happen.”

I am so glad I managed to fit in this marvellous volume of diaries to my #Woolfalong phase 5 – I wasn’t sure I was in the right frame of mind – but I needn’t have worried. ( )
1 vota Heaven-Ali | Oct 31, 2016 |
During her life, author Virginia Woolf kept an extensive diary. After her death, her husband, Leonard, published this heavily edited version of entries that were written from 1918 through her death in 1941. In his preface, he explains that the editing was necessary because many of the entries were too personal to publish during the lifetimes of the people they were written about. Many of the entries, although not all, deal with Woolf's writing process and her work.

I'm not a huge fan of Woolf's novels, but I still found her diary interesting. I particularly enjoyed the framing of the diary (it starts at the end of World War I and ends as World War II is beginning). I also found her descriptions of how her feelings about her books fluctuated radically from one day to the next very interesting. Many times she would feel quite confident about how good a book was only to go back to it a few days later and decide it was rubbish. This isn't the type of book you can just sit down and read straight through, however, because it gets quite serious at times. It can also be hard to follow at times, although this is to be expected since Woolf wrote it for her eyes only instead of for other people. It took me nearly 3 months to get through it by reading a bit here and there between other books. ( )
  AmandaL. | Jan 16, 2016 |
I have to wonder at my timing on this one. Here I am, picking up one of the most perfect books for spurring the self on to writing during the merry month of NaNoWriMo, only to finish in the midst the most recent surge of action in the great Gramazon debacle; a debacle wholly embittered by the concept of self-published authors. Now, I'd like to go the traditional rout of publishing myself, but still. It gives both this review and my dream of writing for a living an air of antagonism, watch your step/mince your words or be misunderstood severely.

Or that could be me thinking too much.

But see here, though, that's what this whole work is all about. Thinking about writing, and when the person doing the thinking is Woolf, well. One hesitates to define one's principles about the 'too much thinking' business, for on one side lies her suicide and on the other, her body of work. And if you've ever had the privileged pleasure to experience her work, you know what I'm talking about.

What I'm actually attempting to talk about, here, in this review, is harder to say. The comfort I feel in comparing myself to Woolf is eerily seductive and not nearly as obsequiously awestruck as I would like it to be. I mean, Woolf! Bloomsbury group! Only one of the greatest prose artists to grace this poor world of ours, a life led during the interwar period filled with famous names, famous intrigues, and famous writing. Eurocentric and even more despairingly Anglocentric, to be fair, and her easy disparagement of others and her half-handed hypocrisy on women's rights set my teeth on edge, but my god. This old English lady who drowned herself fifty years before I was born understands me, down to the marrow of my meaning of life.I thought, driving through Richmond last night, something very profound about the synthesis of my being: how only writing composes it: how nothing makes a whole unless I am writing: now I have forgotten what seemed so profound.To reiterate the perfection above, writing is both everything and nothing, depending on whether I'm paying more attention to my self or the grander scheme of things. A fervor delving into the very core of existence's delight, or a waste that asks the ultimate question of why I'm still bothering with everything in general. Once upon a time, if given the chance of control or perhaps even some means of getting rid of the nihilistic face of the coin completely, I would have taken it. These days, I'm not so sure.

This compilation of cut-outs from a 27 year run of personal record is chock-full of that feeling, that sense of one's heartbeat relying on the pace and pound of words both writing and already written, a heartbeat that is sensitive in all the ways both right and wrong. It is not practical. It is not objective. It is everything to do with how a question of how I write put by a unwitting bystander is going to set me off on a complete and utter rhapsodizing on the power of literature in every facet of life. It is both unbearably personal and the manifesto of my character that I would proclaim to all, if I got the chance to. For, as you all know, literature means publishing, and publishing means business, and it is a very rare case indeed where those as devoted as Woolf to their craft avoid having their soul sucked out by the reality of writing for a living. Advertising, academia, pick your grindstone and hang on for dear life and the slow weathering down of passion in the face of life.

Did I mention that this book is not practical? Good. This isn't a creative fictioning self-help book, for all its sociocultural periphery. This is a lifeline.

Woolf was lucky to have a living situation such as hers. I am lucky for her being lucky enough to create such a body of work of not only reading and writing, but commentary on said reading and writing, especially writing. Especially how intimately and horrifically her mental state was tied to it, in as much a way as anything one lives for becomes. Which makes the state less of a tragedy and more of a best of all possible worlds, except not, except. Maybe? Or one could stick with 'that's life'. That is a much more honest answer, one that if you're lucky spools out enough years for the ink to spread out and flow.

I'd say more, but really, what else is there to say but: writers, read this. Readers, read this. As for me?You see, I'm thinking furiously about Reading and Writing. I have no time to describe my plans.Toodles. ( )
  Korrick | Feb 26, 2014 |
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Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
Woolf, Virginiaautor primaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Woolf, LeonardEditorautor secundaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Beresford, George CharlesAutor de la cobertaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
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Monday, August 4th

While waiting to buy a book in which to record my impressions first of Christina Rossetti, then of Byron, I had better write them here.
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An invaluable guide to the art and mind of Virginia Woolf, drawn by her husband from the personal record she kept over a period of twenty-seven years. Included are entries that refer to her own writing, others that are clearly writing exercises; accounts of people and scenes relevant to the raw material of her work; and comments on books she was reading. Edited and with a Preface by Leonard Woolf; Indices.

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