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This blog makes liberal use of AB's journals, letters, travel notes, and other sources.

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Sunday, 17 November 2013

Achieving intensity

Sunday, November 17th., Les Sablons.

We went to Paris on Friday for a dinner at Roy Devereux's.
Also see 'Back to work', September 19th., -

I bought Octave Mirbeau's "La 628-E8", and read it with immense gusto. It reinforced the impression that has been growing on me for some time that I waste a vast lot of ideas and impressions because I have not quite got the trick of throwing them into form instantly and of intensifying them to a degree sufficiently poetical. If I forced myself to exert the necessary energy and skill for a short time I should arrive at it.

La 628-E8 is a 'novel' by the French novelist and playwright Octave Mirbeau, published by Fasquelle in 1907. La 628-E8 is noteworthy for its genre indeterminacy. Part travelogue, part fantasy, part cultural commentary and critique, Mirbeau's book highlights its own unclassifiability: “Is it a diary?”, the narrator wonders. “Is it even the account of a trip?”

Both Taine's various travels and this book of Mirbeau's are nothing but impressions simply pitched together; and much of their charm and verity lies in that. I made the experiment on returning from Paris yesterday of writing my sensations of the morning. I did about a thousand words of heightened stuff in about forty minutes and thought it pretty good. But it must be dashed down, written with the utmost rapidity. Therefore I fear I should have to abandon this format of page and this handwriting for something larger and more cursive. And this I should regret.

Additionally for November 17th., see 'Woman' -

Edith Evors, my new secretary, is the first genuine middle-class bachelor woman, living alone in London lodgings, that I have been intimately familiar with. A tall woman, slightly under thirty, with big limbs and a large, honest, red-cheeked face, and a quiet, intense voice. Transparently conscientious; with little self-reliance, but a capacity for admiring self-reliance in others. She lives in Bloomsbury, and at night goes to socialist and anarchist lectures. "It is dreadful", she said to me today, "to think how little one can do!" She cannot make her own clothes, though her earnings are only 30 shillings a week, and she grudges "every moment spent in their repair". But personally she is neat enough in an unadorned, aggressively simple way. She is serious, earnest, practical in small affairs, and visionary in great ones. Full of easily aroused pity and indignation. Physically strong and healthy.

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