[Vwoolf] Arnold Bennett again

Stuart N. Clarke stuart.n.clarke at btinternet.com
Thu Nov 29 12:06:19 EST 2018

So I turned to "The Doctor Looks at Literature: Psychological Studies of Life and Letters" (1923), by COLLINS, Joseph (1866-1950, American neurologist), and read his essay on Barbellion.  I was depressed to read:

“The biological discoveries of the latter half of the Nineteenth Century showed conclusively that the ultimate end to which all life is directed and toward which every living being strives is the continuation of the race to which the individual belongs.  Life becomes, therefore, a trust, not a gift, and the only way in which the obligation it entails can be discharged is by transmitting life to a new generation.” (205)

Then I was cheered up when I tuned to chapter vii, “Two Lesser Literary Ladies of London: Stella Benson and Virginia Woolf”.


From: Barbara Lounsberry 
Sent: Thursday, November 29, 2018 1:51 PM
To: Sarah M. Hall 
Cc: vwoolf at lists.osu.edu ; Stuart N. Clarke 
Subject: Re: [Vwoolf] Arnold Bennett again

Another influence, perhaps.  In April 1920, Woolf received a copy of W.N.P. Barbellion's famous Journal of a Disappointed Man.  There she found this 1917 entry: "I am simply marking time on the edge of a precipice awaiting the order, 'Forward.'"  She employs the figure herself in her May 5, 1920 diary entry: "this marks some step over a precipice" and then transforms it into the (slightly more hopeful) image of life as "a little strip of pavement over an abyss" in her October diary. 

One is always struck by the way she makes her vast reading her own.

Barbara Lounsberry

On Thu, Nov 29, 2018 at 6:11 AM Sarah M. Hall via Vwoolf <vwoolf at lists.osu.edu> wrote:

  Demonstrates that just because you don't agree with someone doesn't mean that they don't have an influence on you.

  On Thursday, 29 November 2018, 11:43:54 GMT, Stuart N. Clarke via Vwoolf <vwoolf at lists.osu.edu> wrote: 

  “Why is life so tragic; so like a little strip of pavement over an abyss?”
  (D2, 25 Oct 1920)

  “... reminding her [Sophia] somehow that humanity walks ever on a thin crust over terrific abysses.”
  (“The Old Wives’ Tale”, bk 3, 7.1)

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