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

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Friday, 3 January 2014

Settling in

Tuesday, January 3rd., Royal York Hotel, Brighton.

I have read about a third of Edith Wharton's "The House of Mirth". Not fine, but capable. No connection with literature; a certain fairly agreeable bitterness of satire now and then. It can just be read. probably a somewhat superior Mrs. Humphry Ward. I stopped reading it in favour of Marcus Clarke's "For the Term of His Natural Life", which I picked up here at Brighton in a sixpenny edition. I am enjoying this, though in form and plot it is very naif. I could drop it without tears.

Today I wrote a New Age article, arranged the outline of an article for the Nation, and schemed out the first nine chapters of "Clayhanger" which I hope to begin to write on Wednesday. This afternoon we moved into our new room on the fourth floor and I arranged everything for my work. We walked on the pier, and I saw subjects for water-colours and pastels.
See also, 'Commencing Clayhanger' - http://earnoldbennett.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/commencing-clayhanger.html

The one advance which I made last year in worldliness was having a play put on at a West End theatre for a run. That it failed is a detail. I bet it won't fail ultimately.

I wrote last year: "The Card", novel; "The Glimpse", novel; "The Honeymoon", three act comedy; scenario for a play on the subject of "Don Juan"; "The Revolver", "The Tiger and the Baby", "Under the Clock", "Hot potatoes", "The Heroism of Thos. Chadwick", "Why the Clock Stopped", "The Boy, the Girl, and the Blue Suit", short stories; seventy odd articles; my journal. Total 312,100 words. Much less than the year before.

Additionally for January 3rd., see 'On artistry' -

The sight of Burne-Jones's aloofness, of his continual preoccupation with the spiritual, to the ignoring of everyday facts, served to complete in me a modification of view which has been proceeding now for a year or two. The day of my enthusiasm for 'realism', for 'naturalism', has passed. I can perceive that a modern work of fiction dealing with modern life may ignore realism and yet be great. To find beauty, which is always hidden; that is the aim. If beauty is found then superficial facts are of small importance. But they are of some importance. And although I concede that in the past I have attached too high a value to realism, nevertheless I see no reason why it should be dispensed with. My desire is to depict the deeper beauty while abiding by the envelope of facts. At the worst the facts should not be ignored. They might, for the sake of more clearly disclosing the beauty, suffer a certain distortion - I can't think of a better word. In deed they cannot be ignored in the future. The achievements of the finest French writers, with Turgenev and Tolstoy, have set a standard for all coming masters of fiction.
What the artist has to grasp is that there is no such thing as ugliness in the world. This I believe to be true but perhaps the saying would sound less difficult in another form: All ugliness has an aspect of beauty. The business of the artist is to find that aspect.

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