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

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Thursday, 24 January 2013


Sunday, January 24th., Vevey, Switzerland.

Thursday - goose. Friday evening bilious attack. But it did not stop me from working. Yesterday I finished the first third of "Denry the Audacious". And ideas still coming freely! Today it occurred to me to utilise my Jacob Tonson column in the New Age for the material of a book on the subject of the modern novel, its future, its moral etc. etc. After arranging all my ideas for the next chapter this morning, I arranged ideas for first chapter of this book on the novel this afternoon.

Published in London every Thursday morning, the modernist magazine The New Age was a boundless source of ideas during its heyday from 1907 to 1922. The New Age was “the Bible for our generation,” recalled British author Storm Jameson. “We would rather go hungry than not buy it. We quoted it, argued with it, and formed ourselves on it.” The New Age informed its readers about the new field of psychoanalysis, debated different versions of socialism, published translations of Chekhov's plays, popularized the novels of Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy, and explored post-impressionism and abstract art. Its pages included some of Katherine Mansfield's first stories, regular contributions by the cartoonist Tom Titt, more than a hundred reviews of music and art by Ezra Pound, and a defence of homosexuality by Havelock Ellis. Instead of following one editorial line, The New Age was known for its medley of perspectives. Each issue featured essays, reviews, and articles on politics, economics, literature, the arts—and just about any other subject that caught the interest of its editor, Alfred Richard Orage. The New Age “contributors have always been searched for zealously and indefatigably,” reported columnist Arnold Bennett, who wrote under the pen name Jacob Tonson. “They have been compelled to come in—sometimes with a lasso, sometimes with a revolver, sometimes with a lure of flattery; but they have been captured.” At one time or another, Orage's editorial lasso pulled in George Bernard Shaw, G. K. Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc, H. G. Wells, Upton Sinclair, John Galsworthy, E. Nesbit, and Siegfried Sassoon.

Arranged with Tauchnitz to abridge the "Old Wives Tale" so that he can get it into two volumes. A damned nuisance, yet I secretly consider myself fortunate to get it in. I had begun to think the thing was off.

Letter from Waugh today to say that the book still selling, and their town traveller anxious that no new book should appear till this has run its course. All very healthy. A fourth edition is now quite possible. I had not in the least hoped for this success. It alters the value of all my future books. yet I was depressed all afternoon because I could not make a sketch. Another proof that public success is no guarantee whatever of happiness or even content. I think it makes no difference.

In becoming acquainted with people you uncover layer after layer. Using the word in my sense, one person may be the most distinguished of a crowd on the first layer, another on the second, and so on. Until after uncovering several layers, you may ultimately come to a person who, down below, is the most distinguished of all - on that layer. The final result may be quite unexpected. I suppose that the inmost layer is the most important, but each has its importance.
I think that I am a very layered person, and am likely to become more so as I get older. I don't think anyone has penetrated far below my surface and, if I am honest, I have no wish that they should.

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