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Thursday, 15 May 2014

First novel

Friday, May 15th., Victoria Grove, Chelsea.

At noon precisely I finished my first novel, which was begun about the middle of April last year; but five sixths of the work at least has been performed since the 1st of October. Yesterday I sat down at 3 p.m. to write, and with slight interruptions for meals, etc., kept at it till 1 a.m. this morning. The concluding chapter was written between 9 and 12 today.

My fears about "In the Shadow" are (1) that it is not well-knit, (2) that it is hysterical, or at any rate strained in tone. Still, I should not be surprised if it impressed many respectable people. The worst parts of it seem to me to be in front of my Yellow Book story, which came if for a full share of laudation.

Bennett's first success came with a story, ‘A Letter Home’, published in the Yellow Book (July 1895). Bennett, who had become devoted to the fiction of George Moore, now resolved to write a novel modelled on Moore's naturalistic mode. ‘Life being grey, sinister, and melancholy, the novel must be grey, sinister, and melancholy’. The novel, to which Bennett had given the title ‘In the Shadow’, was sent to the publisher John Lane, who asked John Buchan to report on it. Buchan's favourable comments led to the publication in 1898 of what was now called "A Man from the North."

I was thinking today that one can never really know another person; not even a, person with whom one has been intimate over an extended period. What clues do we have about the mind of someone else? What they tell us may or may not be reliable. We can observe their behaviour and form some opinion about what characterises them, but how do we know if they behave in the same way when we are absent? So, we just rub along, trying to say and do the right (meaning expected) things, at the correct time, in the proper way. It is either that or just live inside one's head. Perhaps this is behind the author's creative impulse? He really can know the characters he creates in his fiction, and fictional characters are the only hope for the thoughtful reader who wants to know someone apart from himself.

Additionally for May 15th., see 'Florentine scenes'

Yesterday I was on the Ponte Vecchio when children were going to school (8.45), & I noticed more than ever how Italian little girls have the look & the form of women. Marguerite & I have been noticing them in their short skirts for weeks. They look just like women unsuitably dressed. They are quite formees.

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