THE DIARY OF VIRGINIA WOOLF: VoL II, 1920-1924 by Virginia Woolf


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VW here continues her record of the tasks, thoughts, and incidents that marked her days, while disclosing a life lived ever more for writing. Again, there is a sharpness of perception, a cutting edge to her words, and occasional hints of unintended self-revelation as she sketches people and experiences. There is T. S. Eliot, anemic, self-conscious, saying for effect things he doesn't mean, who ""cast a shade on me"" by prizing Joyce; there is Joyce, ""an insignificant man. . . dull, self-centered, and perfectly self-assured,' whose Ulysses was a ""mis-fire. . . brackish. . . pretentious. . . underbred,"" touched with genius, perhaps, ""but of an inferior water""; and Katherine Mansfield, with whom friendship died because ""I was jealous of her writing--the only writing I have ever been jealous of,"" yet whose competition was inspiriting. More than in volume I, the literary imagination here enfolds recorded experience, making the diary more a rhetorical exercise than a psychological exploration: ""How it would interest me,"" VW writes, ""if this diary were ever to become a real diary,"" in which ""I could see changes, trace moods developing""; but that would not be because ""life breaks in"" and must be described. This translating of life into words gave VW the one reality she could endure. Only toward the end does she recognize her unstated purpose: ""this diary has helped my style; loosened the ligatures,"" with the result that she wonders: ""Of what should I write here except my writing?"" Finally, after publishing Jacob's Room and ""laboriously dredging my mind for Mrs. Dalloway and bringing up light buckets,"" she completes Mrs. Dalloway convinced that it has ""plunged"" her ""deep in the richest strata of my mind. I can write and write and write now: the happiest feeling in the world.

Pub Date: Nov. 7th, 1978
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich