I have often thought, during the last year, upon the uselessness of trying to describe faces in literature. No vision is raised by particularization in words. I now find this minutely explained in Lessing's "Laocoon", which is certainly a most useful and illuminating treatise for a writer. Homer it seems never described Helen. He merely said she was beautiful, and kept insisting on the fact, and showing the influence of her beauty - as on the elders. This is the way to follow. Lessing's theory of the propriety of describing ugliness is ingenious, and perhaps good. The choice in subjects of a painter like Delacroix will not justify itself under Lessing's philosophy, and Lessing is undoubtedly right. Delacroix was great in spite of his choice of subjects. "Laocoon" has clarified and confirmed my ideas very much.
Yesterday I began "The Old Wives Tale". I wrote 350 words yesterday afternoon and 900 this morning. I felt less self-conscious than I usually do in beginning a novel. In order to find a clear three hours for it every morning I have had to make a timetable, getting out of bed earlier and lunching later.
This morning I calculated that I could just walk to the Croix de Montmorin and back in an hour. I nearly did it this morning without trying, in heavy rain. Tomorrow I may do it. A landscape of soaked leaves and thick clouds and rain - nothing else. But I like it.
Additionally for October 9th., see 'All at sea' -
Our third day at sea.
Strange noises through the night. Tappings. Waiting for the dawn to come, forgetting that there could be no dawn. The dawn was the turning on of the electric lights on the corridor.
Lovely Sunday morning. Rippled sea as we left Ireland.