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Sunday, 10 November 2013

Pouring wisdom

Saturday, November 10th., Cadogan Square, London.

I walked three miles to get ideas and didn't get them.

Julian Huxley and Professor Church came to see me at noon about their proposed magazine The Realist, and I poured wisdom into them, of which they were very receptive, for one hour.

The Realist was a short lived monthly British magazine first published in March 1929 which brought together many intellectuals from that era. It was dedicated to Scientific Humanism and carried a distinctive pale orange cover. It closed in January 1930, a victim of the Great Depression. It was founded in 1928 by the political scientist George Catlin and Major A. G. Church, then assistant editor of Nature, who became its editor. It was backed by Lord Melchett and published by Macmillan. The literary editor was the then little-known philosopher Gerald Heard. Contributors included, Arnold Bennett, H. G. Wells, Sir Richard Gregory, J. B. S. Haldane, BronisÅ‚aw Malinowski, Herbert Read, Julian Huxley, Aldous Huxley, Sir Frank Baines, H. J. Laski and Rebecca West. The founders hoped to find a market for an intellectual monthly along similar lines to the American Harper's Magazine.

O. B. Clarence
I saw the Quintero Brothers little piece in three scenes, "Fortunata", at the Court, with O. B. Clarence in the principal role. I went to see this because Dorothy had praised it so highly. A very good, picturesque little comedy, and well played. I met A. P. Herbert there. The remainder of the afternoon I chiefly wasted - I think because I had felt a chill going out in the wet to the theatre.

Fortunato is a biting social commentary by Joaquin and Serafin Alvarez-Quintero, popular Spanish playwrights of the early 20th century. Fortunato, who works very hard trying to find work in order to feed his family, grows ever more desperate as the pangs of hunger become unbearable. On the brink of madness, he discovers his innate dignity and transcends his fate with the help of the circus performer Amaranta the Triumphant.

Henry Williamson, author of "The Pathway", came to dinner. I'd never seen him before. 32, dark. Highly strung. Bit by bit we got on better and better, and he left at 11.15 much touched by the contact. I liked him. Married. Two children. Seems to be very fond of his wife, and admires her. She is the original of "Mary" in "The Pathway"; so she must be fine. He told me lots of autobiography. I had anticipated ‘The Pathway’ with unusual interest [due to Tarka] and it must be read. But Mr. Williamson has still to learn a few things about the novelist’s supreme job of being continuously interesting. He is a bit too ruthless with the reader. Mr. Williamson is without doubt a novelist, though perhaps excessively (for an artist) preoccupied with the spiritual consequences of the war. He makes pictures which – I should say – have in their line never been surpassed. The opening scenes are masterly. He is the creator of loveliness in a landscape but there are too many metaphysical ‘other-world’ insertions,  and the final tragedy is not made plain. ‘The Pathway’ is a novel richly worth quarrelling with. The author’s gifts are authentic and dazzling. He has yet to show himself the master of them.

The writer Henry Williamson was born in London in 1895. Naturalist, soldier, journalist, farmer, motor enthusiast and author of over fifty books, his descriptions of nature and the First World War have been highly praised for their accuracy. He is best known as the author of Tarka the Otter, which won the Hawthornden Prize for Literature in 1928 and was filmed in 1977. By one of those extraordinary coincidences, Henry Williamson died while the crew were actually filming the death scene of Tarka. "The Pathway" is Volume 4 of "A Flax of Dream". In It, Willie Maddison returns to his writing and meets up with his childhood friend Mary Ogilvie. Their love story is set in idyllic scenes of the North Devon countryside, but Mary’s mother objects and in despair Willie decides to leave Devon – but is drowned as he tries to cross the estuary. His bereft friends hold a Shelley-like scene on the beach to bid him farewell.

Additionally for November 10th., see 'Theatrical temptations' -

After cogitating off and on through the night I decided upon what will probably be the first sentence of my novel (Anna Tellwright): "Bursley, the ancient home of the potter, has an antiquity of a thousand years" - and also upon the arrangement of the first long paragraph describing the Potteries.

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