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Thursday, 21 March 2013

Trying times

Monday, March 21st., Cadogan Square, London.

I've written 20,000 words in the last twelve days.
In today's Evening Standard article, I was writing about Sinclair Lewis, and particularly about "Dodsworth". The theme of which is the relative merits of the civilisation of the United States  and of Europe and the reactions of the one civilisation to the other. Embark on "Dodsworth" and you are carried away on a swift tide, and you exult in the swirling stream under you. Sinclair Lewis is a man at the height of his powers. Immediately after reading "Dodsworth" I read Mr. Sturge Moore's "Armour for Aphrodite". Interjected between his chapters are a number of aphorisms, and though some of them are not immediately helpful, others are lamps in a dark world. Here is one of the latter. "Beauty is rarely simple, and always supposes completeness." Think it over. Here is another. "To cherish beauty in memory prompts us to seek it everywhere." Think it over. Such lamps really do illuminate.

Dorothy had her operation yesterday. The nurse was here about 8 o'clock and soon D.'s room was transformed into an operating-room. I walked for about 40 minutes, saw Dorothy, and began to write my chapter at noon precisely. I wrote about 750 words. Saw Dorothy again and then at intervals I wrote more words. Nurse had been sitting in the drawing-room and elsewhere for a change. When she returned to the bedroom I returned to my study, and finished my chapter, and counted the words. I had written a complete chapter of 1,700 words, and was fairly assuaged and content. Then went and had my own dinner and drank some Burgundy, and read Sinclair Lewis's "Elmer Gantry", which is acutely alive and readable. Then I saw Dorothy again, and came downstairs and had half of one of my new Partaga cigars. I saw Dorothy again previous to her being arranged for the night. I came back to my study and finished my cigar, and read more "Elmer Gantry". Finally I got to bed by 11 p.m. but with the expectancy of a disturbed night. I didn't spend one penny of petty cash all day. It was a satisfactory day, considering all the circumstances, and I had done a day's work sufficient for even an absolutely free day.

I had to order the meals and wrestle with the French cook this morning. So that by 10.30, after I had seen Dorothy twice, although I had had a very calm pre-prandial time (from 6.30 to 8.30), I was beginning to have a headache and felt dans tous mes etats. I went out for an idea-finding walk, and got to the South Kensington museum and sat down in a corner, and no sooner had I done so than four workmen came to disturb me by moving trestles. No sooner had they gone than the ideas came to me in a vague but satisfactory rush; and I walked straight out again. I saw Dorothy a third time, and exactly at 12 sat down to work and at 12.35 had actually written 700 words. It seems as if nothing can stop me from working just now.

I had a highly disturbing letter from F. C. B. about a wild project of his for coming to London; which upset me. I have written to Richard to tell him about this scheme of his father's to take a practice in London, which does not appeal to me at all. I do not think for a moment that, after all these years in the provinces, he would be able to hold together any sort of a London practice, & I do not think he realises this in the least. I also divulged to Richard that, after much indecision, we have settled on a Rolls Royce. It is 1921, but went through RR works for reconditioning only two months ago & is now in perfect order. Total price £650. I should have got a Sunbeam but I arrived at the garage just after the thing had been sold to someone who could run quicker. The yacht will certainly not be fitted out this year. In fact I shall sell her.

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