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Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Literary egos

Thursday, October 2nd., Cadogan Square, London.

Osbert Sitwell lunched with me yesterday at Reform Club. By arrangement Swinnerton joined us. Before lunch Siegfried Sassoon came up and said: "Can I lunch at your table today?" (In pursuance of my reproaches that he would keep by himself in the club) I said: "Certainly. You must. Osbert is coming. Sort of silly feud between him and Osbert which Edith Sitwell told me about some time ago. S.S. drew back but I made him come. A little occasional acerbity in S.S.'s tone at times, but it was quite all right. At the end I made S.S. see Osbert out of the club.

See also 'Lunch with Mad Jack', June 9th., -

These petty feuds in the verse world are quite amusing. Osbert is always planning some literary practical joke against someone. Siegfried had stopped speaking to Osbert because (he says) Osbert would never leave him alone. And he stopped speaking to Edith because she wouldn't prevent Osbert doing his tricks. "But what can I do?" said Edith. In revenge Sacheverell Sitwell swore he would never speak to Siegfried again. It appears also that either Siegfried won't speak to Robert Graves or vice-versa. All very odd, and rather childish.

Osbert Sitwell is a satirist of an unusual kind. he is not a contributor to Punch and he is not likely to be. He accepts nothing without the strictest and most hostile examination. he is a fundamental objector, with the bellicose, haughty and ruthless spirit of a Renaissance prince. His artistic existence is a crusade. He can be at once bitter and courtly. He will hand you the poisoned chalice, watch you fall in agony, contemplate your corpse with a bland smile, and go out calmly for a constitutional! He is that sort of man.

Osbert, Edith and Sacheverell Sitwell
The Sitwells (Edith Sitwell, Osbert Sitwell, Sacheverell Sitwell), from Scarborough, North Yorkshire, were three siblings who formed an identifiable literary and artistic clique around themselves in London in the period roughly 1916 to 1930. This was marked by some well-publicised events, the most prominent of which was probably Edith's Fa├žade with music by William Walton, with its public debut in 1923. All three Sitwells wrote; for a while their circle was considered by some to rival Bloomsbury, though others dismissed them as attention-seekers rather than serious artists.

Additionally for October 2nd., see 'Visions' -

Yesterday I had a goodish large notion for the Hilda book - of portraying the droves of the whole sex, instead of whole masculine droves. I think I can do something with this, showing the multitudinous activities of the whole sex, the point of view of the whole sex, against a mere background of masculinity. I had a sudden vision of it. It has never been done.

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