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Wednesday, 13 March 2013

A domestic day

Sunday, March 13th., Cadogan Square, London.

I went out for a walk, along the Embankment past the old Clock House (now turned into flats and looking damned odd - what a change, only a year or two ago I met at dinner the woman who lived in Clock House all by herself), and past Oakley Street into Cheyne Row and past Carlyle's gloomy house, which I hadn't seen for a long time, and home by 12 0'clock.

The Clock House 1879. R Norman Shaw, architect. Five storeys, basement and dormers. Mostly 7 windows. Red brick. Cornice at third floor. Three wide oriel windows at second floor. Leaded lights. Iron balcony first floor. Octagonal clock on carved wood bracket at second floor. Altered upper storey.

Wherupon, having got my ideas into order, I at once sat down and wrote 800 words of "Accident". Lunch at home with Dorothy.

At night I resumed Sinclair Lewis's new novel, "Elmer Gantry".

Universally recognized as a landmark in American literature, Elmer Gantry scandalized readers when it was first published, causing Sinclair Lewis to be "invited" to a jail cell in New Hampshire and to his own lynching in Virginia. His portrait of a golden-tongued evangelist who rises to power within his church--a saver of souls who lives a life of duplicity, sensuality, and ruthless self-indulgence--is also the record of a period, a reign of grotesque vulgarity, which but for Lewis would have left no trace of itself. Elmer Gantry has been called the greatest ,most vital, and most penetrating study of hypocrisy that has been written since the works of Voltaire.

At 3.25 we went forth by a 11 bus to the National Gallery, and saw a few fine things again, and the Hubert van Eyck thing that was in the Flemish exhibition at the R.A. Good, but not, to my mind, in the same place as John van Eyck, which is hanging close by. Dorothy showed me a portrait of a man by (I forget - Italian, 15 cent.), and said that for her it was the finest portrait in the world.It was very fine, but perhaps she was attracted as much by the subject as by the painting. We dined alone together, and then we played four-hand bits out of the "Meistersinger".

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