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Monday, 11 March 2013

An invitation to sail

Friday, March 11th., Cadogan Square, London.

First thing after breakfast and seeing Dorothy I wrote a little article about Westminster Cathedral for the Oxford and Cambridge (illustrated weekly). I took the material from notes made on a visit. I've got a lot of these notes made within about twelve months. I shouldn't ever have written the article without notes. Moral. Unhappily I do this article gratis.
Then I went out for a walk along King's Road and round about Holbein Place (second-hand shops) to get my "Accident" ideas into order. Succeeded. sat down and began to write at once, 500 words by 1 p.m. Tea with Dorothy. Then a bit more of the novel. I found I had written 1,200 words of the same by 7 p.m. Quite excellent for the first day of a resumption after seven weeks' intermission. I spent a bit of time in miscellaneous reading.
The Colefaxes, Alick Shepeler and Otto Kahn and Rudolf Kommer came for dinner. Kahn came through Kommer. Kahn wanted a nice bunch for his yachting cruise in the Greek Archipelago, and Kommer, who is very friendly with him, suggested me as one. Kahn is short and white and sturdy. Of course very assured in style. Stuffed with brains. Highly intelligent. Phrases his talk very well. I at once decided to sail with him. April 20th. for a month. Kahn was never uninteresting, he gave a great deal of his attention to Dorothy. You can see he is efficient in everything. His information-giving talk with me about the projected cruise was excellently terse - couldn't have been better.

Otto Hermann Kahn (1867 – 1934) was an investment bankercollector, philanthropist, and patron of the arts. He was born in Mannheim, Germany, and raised there, by his Jewish parents. His father had been among the refugees to the United States after the revolution of 1848 and had become an American citizen, but later returned to Germany. Kahn was educated in a gymnasium in Mannheim. Kahn's ambition was to be a musician, and he learned to play several instruments before he graduated from the gymnasium. But he was one of eight children, and his father had set plans for the career of each one. Kahn he destined to be a banker. At 17, Kahn was placed in a bank at Karlsruhe as a junior clerk, where he remained for three years, advancing until he was thoroughly grounded in the intricacies of finance. He then served for a year in the Kaiser's hussars. On leaving the army he went to the London agency of Deutsche Bank, where he remained five years. He displayed such unusual talents that he became second in command when he had been there but a comparatively short time. The English mode of life, both political and social, appealed to him, and eventually he became a naturalized British subject. In 1893, he accepted an offer from Speyer and Company of New York and went to the United States, where he spent the rest of his life. On January 8, 1896, Kahn married Addie Wolff and following the couple's year-long tour of Europe, Kahn joined Kuhn, Loeb & Co.in New York City, where his father-in-law, Abraham Wolff, was a partner. In 1917, Kahn gave up his British nationality and became a United States citizen. During the last years of Kahn's life he became increasingly frail and suffered from arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure and attacks of angina pectoria. On March 29, 1934, following lunch in the private dining room of Kuhn, Loeb, Kahn suffered a massive heart attack and died, aged 67.

Finishing a novel last evening I experienced again that feeling of sadness and loss which often follows an enjoyable reading experience. Perhaps it is akin to post-coital tristesse. I find it occurs most commonly at the conclusion of a plot-driven novel. My belief is that the body responds to the power of the writing in the same way it would to actual physical stimuli, and the abrupt termination produces an anti-climactic reaction as liberated chemicals in the system subside. Perhaps then the strength of the reaction is a measure of the author's success.

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