Monday 7 April 2014

There are few greater intimacies than reading someone else’s diary in the middle of the night: a few pages of Virginia Woolf’s journey around Ireland in 1934, her sense of The Waves as it came into being, her thoughts on her thoughts, who came to tea that day; I sleep well after that.

Ireland in 1934. As she writes from The Lismore Hotel, the Eccles in Glengariff, the Glenbeigh Hotel, the Dunraven Arms in Adare, VW struggles with Ireland, the friendliness and the calculation. She doesn’t really know what she thinks until she’s back in Sussex, when she says this is one of the most interesting trips they, she and Leonard, have made.

I’ve been reading Orlando in the bath. Where you read is as important as what. If the reading gets too fragmented you can always transfer to wet afternoons up in your room. Land with Orlando in the twentieth century. Hard to detach him/her from Tilda Swinton in Sally Potter’s film once you’ve seen it.

Also taking gobs at Lydia Davis, Can’t and Won’t. Her brevity and narkiness make me read in like fashion. I put it down saying that’s enough of that, wanting something more accepting, or transporting.

Start The Waves again. To submerge, to lean on those names: Bernard, Jinny, and the rest. Be there on a summer’s afternoon, near blackcurrant bushes and beyond. Absorb the quality of exchange. Separate and together. The tussle of words. Onwardness of experience.

Lydia Davis has no such gentleness. She’s wry, and dry, and undercuts, rather than props up her reality. She is maybe the person Neville in The Waves needed, ‘someone whose mind falls like a chopper on a block; the whom the pitch of absurdity is sublime, and a shoestring adorable’. The Waves p.43