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Thursday, 12 June 2014

Quite a day

Sunday, June 12th., Cadogan Square, London.

Alone in the house tonight. Telephone invitation from Syrie Maugham to dine at her house tonight. I accepted for us both.

Lunch alone, during which I finished reading the current number of Nature. Sleep. After which I read Wells's lecture at the Sorbonne, "Democracy under revision", of which he gave me a copy yesterday. Then I went again at my article, and I had finished it at 4.35. I read a lot of Graves's and Edith Sitwell's poetry, and two highbrow monthlies and year books, and most of Virginia Woolf's new novel "To the Lighthouse". In fact I had quite a day of writing and reading.

From H. G. Wells "An Experiment in Autobiography"
In the spring of 1927, I was asked to lecture in the Sorbonne and I chose as my subject Democracy under Revision, in which I insisted on the necessity for some such organization as my Samurai to replace the crude electoral methods of contemporary politics. This was, so to speak, Open Conspiracy propaganda adapted to the peculiarly narrow French outlook. My wife, I may note here, was with me in that Paris journey, we were fĂȘted and entertained and very happy together, and neither of us realized that death was already at work in her and that in six months we should be parted for ever. The title page of that printed lecture is the last of all the title pages on which I ever drew a “picshua” for her. I reproduce it here as a reminder of the life-long companionship and the persistent, unassertive help that underlies all this tale of work. Our last half year together I have described in The Book of Catherine Wells.

Syrie Maugham
We did actually meet the Maughams at 8.31. Syrie was not down but W. S. M. awaited us. The new house is now practically finished and looks very strange and agreeable. I saw Liza Maugham (aged 13) for the first time, after having heard of her for years and years. This evening was very agreeable. Just us four, and some nice talking.
Syrie Wellcome and W. Somerset Maugham married in 1917 in New Jersey, although he was predominantly homosexual and would spend much of his marriage apart from his wife. They divorced in 1928. Her divorce settlement from Maugham was their house at 213 King's Road, fully furnished, a Rolls-Royce, and 2,400 pounds a year for her and 600 pounds a year for Liza.

For more on Maugham see'Woman'

I read a few pages of "Karamazoo" before sleeping. The relief of a masterpiece after all the 'current' stuff which I had been reading and writing during the day.

Additionally for June 12th., see 'Is Clayhanger any good?'

I began "Le Crime et le Chatiment" yesterday, which I have been wanting to read again for about a fortnight. The scene in the cafe and Marmeladoff's confession, seems even finer than it did when I read it at Hockliffe. It is certainly one of the very greatest things in fiction. Absolutely full of the most perfect detail. It really disgusted and depressed me about my own work, which seemed artificial and forced by the side of it. I expect that in most of my work there is too much forcing of the effect. An inability to do a thing and leave it alone. I wrote nearly 4,000 words of "Clayhanger" on Thursday and Friday.

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