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

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Monday, 20 January 2014

After "Hilda"?

Friday, January 20th., 59 Rue de Grenelle, Paris.

I began to write "Hilda Lessways" on January 6th. It has been impossible to keep this journal since when, additionally, I am either going out or receiving, every night and Sunday afternoons. I have in fact written about 14,000 words of "Hilda" in 16 days. The stuff is slowly improving.

I had not been able to even read until I received H. G. Wells's "The New Machiavelli". This book makes a deep impression on me, and even causes me to examine my own career, and to wonder whether I have not arrived at a parting-of-the-ways therein, and what I ought to decide to do after the book - after "Hilda" is finished. London or Paris?

The New Machiavelli is a 1911 novel by H. G. Wells that was serialized in The English Review in 1910. Because its plot notoriously derived from Wells's affair with Amber Reeves and satirized Beatrice and Sidney Webb, it was "the literary scandal of its day." The New Machiavelli purports to be written in the first person by its protagonist, Richard "Dick" Remington, who has a lifelong passion for "statecraft" and who dreams of recasting the social and political form of the English nation. Remington is a brilliant student at Cambridge, writes several books on political themes, marries a wealthy heiress, and enters parliament as a Liberal influenced by the socialism of a couple easily recognizable as the Webbs, only to go over to the Conservatives. Remington undertakes the editing of an influential political weekly and is returned to parliament on a platform advocating the state endowment of mothers, but his career is wrecked by his love affair with a brilliant young Oxford graduate, Isabel Rivers. When rumours of their affair begin to circulate, Remington tries to break it off, but then resolves to abandon wife, career, party, and country and live abroad in Italy, where he writes the apologia pro vita sua that the novel constitutes.

Additionally for January 20th., see 'A family business' -

I called at the bureau de tabac opposite the Opera under the Grand Hotel to buy cigars and cigarettes. The patronne, a stoutish powdered agreeable woman of 50 or so was in charge, with a young girl, apparently her daughter. There is also a patron; quite a family affair. 

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