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Thursday, 1 November 2012


Thursday, November 1st., London

Chelsea Embankment
I walked out in the morning - Chelsea Embankment, and got a few ideas for completing a scene of "Punch and Judy" (see 'Lazy Day Afloat and Ashore', September 6th.), and finished the scene before lunch. With Dorothy to Eliz. Lewis's (now Wansborough's) wedding reception at Bryanston Square. Father (Sir George Lewis) dead; mother in a nursing home - brother educating in Germany. What sadness! Crowds of people. I talked to lots and embraced several. I left just after the bride and bridegroom, and walked to Yacht Club and thought. Then to South Kensington Museum and thought. Then home and thought. But didn't get my next scene absolutely clear after all.
My mother had a fall at home last Tuesday evening and, unable to get up or summon assistance, lay on the floor until the next morning. I was alerted by an observant neighbour, otherwise her distress would have been further prolonged. She is now in hospital, much bruised and with a broken wrist and hip. Looks very frail and has not been her usual sharp self mentally - maybe effect of the drugs, or the shock, or simply a stage in giving up on independent living. Terribly sad.
Lately I have been reading some very long books. I particularly liked Jacob Wasserman's The World's Illusion. A question arising in my mind is: Are long books read, or are they skipped? In the Standard edition Our Mutual Friend comprises 1000 pages. It was probably read, partly because a lot of it is masterfully readable, but more because in the Dickensian epoch days were longer, the average man's difficulty being to fill out the day - not to squeeze into it all that he wanted to do. A good rule for novelists is forcibly to stop the day's work while the impulse to proceed is still powerful. If this rule were observed we should have shorter and more concentrated books, and better books.

Jakob Wassermann, 1873-1934, Austrian novelist, b. Bavaria. He won international fame with Christian Wahnschaffe (1919; tr. The World's Illusion, 1920), a novel whose moral intensity and characterization have suggested comparison to Dostoyevsky. Other works popular in his lifetime include the novels Casper Hauser (1908, tr. 1928) and Ulrike Woytich (1923; tr. Gold,1924). He also wrote an autobiography, Mein Weg als Deutscher und Jude (1921; tr. My Life as German and Jew, 1933), plays, biographies, and essays.

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