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

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Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Art and artists

Thursday, March 18th., Victoria Grove, Chelsea.

There can be no knowledge without emotion. We may be aware of a truth, yet until we have felt its force, it is not ours. To the cognition of the brain must be added the experience of the soul. Because her instinct has told her, or because she has been reliably informed, the faded virgin knows that the supreme joys are not for her; she knows by a process of the intellect; but she can feel her deprivation no more than the young mother can feel the hardship of the virgin's lot. Of all the inhabitants of the Inferno, none but Lucifer knows that hell is hell, and the secret function of purgatory is to make of heaven an effective reality.

But to the artist is sometimes granted a sudden, transient insight which serves in this matter for experience. A flash, and where previously the brain held a dead fact, the soul grasps a living truth! At moments we are all artists.

These rather gloomy reflections brought on no doubt by the situation of George Sturt. I have been trying to persuade Lane to publish "The Bettesworth Book" but had to write to Sturt recently to say that I thought it now unlikely that it would happen. He has taken it philosophically, as I thought he would. He writes: "... he's (Lane) not the man I care to be under any obligation to. Neither do I want him to be doing you a favour, even in his own fancy. That would be putting you in a false position - an evil recompense for the pains you've been at for me." He says that he believes there is a public now that would welcome "Bettesworth", but it isn't a book-buying public. He may be right. So, must the artist inevitably compromise his art?

Additionally for March 18th., see 'Prowling the forest'

Immense pleasure, pretty nearly ecstatic sometimes, in looking at the country, in being in it, particularly by the Seine and in the forest. I said to myself the other morning that the early savage used to prowl about from his cave like that, and that I might almost meet one in the forest; whereupon it occurred to me that I was exactly the early savage over again, prowling round his cave, with the same sniffing sensations of instinctive joy in nature. Very curious this getting down to the bedrock.

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