By Barbara Lounsberry
Starting with fourteen-year-old Woolf’s first palm-sized leather-based diary, Becoming Virginia Woolf illuminates how her deepest and public writing was once formed through the diaries of alternative writers together with Samuel Pepys, James Boswell, the French Goncourt brothers, Mary Coleridge, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Woolf’s “diary parents”—Sir Walter Scott and Fanny Burney. those key literary connections open a brand new and necessary window onto the tale of 1 of literature’s most famous modernists.
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Extra info for Becoming Virginia Woolf: Her Early Diaries and the Diaries She Read
Because of this, as Woolf notes in “Dr. Burney’s Evening Party,” Burney reorders her life in a manner harmful to her gifts. “I make a kind of rule, never to indulge myself in my two most favourite pursuits, reading and writing, in the morning,” Burney explains; “no, like a very good girl I give that up wholly . . to needle work, by which means my reading and writing in the afternoon is a pleasure I cannot be blamed for by my mother, as it does not take up the time I ought to spend otherwise” (Early Diary 1: 15; CR 2: 97).
Early Diary Influences 23 Burney’s diary also offers young Virginia an angle absent in Scott’s diaries. Burney attends to women and their treatment throughout her diary and thus models a way of seeing Woolf will follow throughout her life. Burney’s diary was an especially happy early find, for diary historian Blodgett notes that Burney’s diary “violate[s the] female acculturation to self-abnegation, modesty, and silence” present in most English women’s diaries (Centuries 37). Young Fanny despairs of dress and social rites quite as fully as fifteen-year-old Virginia.
Never fails to be graphic” (E 2: 234, 235). The following brief sentence shows Pepys’s swift, graphic, englobing prose: “My wife and I to church this morning, and so home to dinner to a boiled leg of mutton all alone” (Wheatley 1: 296). One thinks of Woolf ’s own famous sausage and haddock diary phrase. In 1918 she turns poetic to praise Pepys’s concrete prose. His language, she writes, “catches unfailingly the butterflies and gnats and falling petals of the moment” (E 2: 235). 25 Diaries offer hospitable space for disparate matter, for democratic mingling of the high and the low, of great events and small.