I am reading Virginia Woolf’s diary, Vol. 1, a bit at a time. I expect to move through it slowly. So far I am enjoying it, although the last stretch I read was mostly very short summaries of days spent walking and reading (if I didn’t know a little about what her mental life was like I’d be jealous), and not terribly interesting. But she has some great observations sprinkled in here and there, and I like to know what she is reading, and what she thinks about it. She was reading Pope in the first part of the diary and liking him a lot. Are there two writers whose differences are greater? As someone who claims some expertise in eighteenth-century literature, I should know him better than I do.
I’ve been a sporadic journal keeper myself; I kept one more consistently when I was younger. These days I mostly keep track of what I’m reading with a few thoughts about it and what kind of riding I’m doing. That is, until this blog. So Woolf’s diary is very appropriate reading for me now. I haven’t been a big diary reader (with the exception of … well, see my blogger name), but maybe that will change.
I returned Smiley to the library; there really is no point in reading through all her discussions of individual works. I’m fascinated by the idea of reading through a long list of novels (she spent three years on it) and am a sucker for long, involved projects, and I wish she’d said more about what the experience was like (did she get bored? did she long for nonfiction after a while?).