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

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Monday, 3 February 2014

On 'love'

Wednesday, February 3rd., Hotel d'Italie, Menton.

"Leonora" is in every way a much better book than "Anna". What women of forty ought to concern themselves with is not the point. What they do concern themselves with they will know when they reach that interesting age; in the meantime they should make no assumptions. That women of forty, generally, do regret the past is an undoubted fact. That they long to be young again is an undoubted fact. That they are particularly, peculiarly, & specially passionate & prone to sexual excitement is an undoubted fact. It was the discovery of these piquant truths which led me to write "Leonora". I didn't conceive the idea and then search round for confirmation. The reverse. I certainly do not think that 'love' is a woman's whole existence, as does at least one of my correspondents. It was certainly not Leonora's whole existence. She was extremely addicted to the higher walks of housewifery. But I think that 'love' is the major part of woman's existence. As it is of man's. I think there are only two things in the world really worth having - sexual love & the love of children. Over & over again, in a career intimately mixed up with many & diverse women, I have found that women with a tendency to 'sit on' love have ended suddenly & swiftly with marriage & become even more domesticated than their sisters. 

I have been a little under the weather for the last few days. Just a cold in the head but it is surprising what an impact it has on the mood. Of course it becomes difficult to sleep with any comfort and hence one is perpetually tired. I started to feel a little better yesterday and hoped to see further improvement this morning, but had a minor relapse. Drinks of hot lemon and honey I find to be soothing and restorative.

The ideas of the average decently-informed person are so warped, and out of perspective, and ignorant, and entirely perverse and wrong and crude, on nearly every mortal subject, that the task of discussing anything with him seriously and fully and to the end, is simply appalling. This has struck me several times recently in this hotel, and I have recoiled from a discussion. The state of that average person's mind can scarcely be contemplated by me, in certain moods.

The funeral feast given by Catherine Ivanovna in "Crime and Punishment" is a magnificent piece of work, both as serious accurate observation and as brutal humour.

Today I began Act III of the play, and wrote 2,000 words.

Additionally for February 3rd., see 'An Atmospheric setting'

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