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Virginia Woolf's Modernist PathHer Middle Diaries and the Diaries She Read$
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Barbara Lounsberry

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780813062952

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813062952.001.0001

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New Diary Realms

New Diary Realms

Talk, the Soul, and Literature

(p.34) 2 New Diary Realms
Virginia Woolf's Modernist Path

Barbara Lounsberry

University Press of Florida

Woolf seeks out new realms in her 1920 diary. In January, she wonders how far she should allow herself to report indiscretion in her diary. In March, she ponders something more profound: whether she can write “a diary of the soul.” In April, she considers whether her diary can “trench upon literature”—another (but related) realm, as the soul holds her “precious art.” On her thirty-eighth birthday, January 25, 1920, she had conceived of “a new form for a new novel”—her first modernist novel, Jacob’s Room. Declaring that she could “think [herself] a novelist” if she could record “talk,” Woolf experiments across her 1920 diary with different ways to render conversations. She practices, in short, for her public prose. In April, she is sent W.N.P. Barbellion’s famous Journal of a Disappointed Man. It spurs her exploration of the soul, offers her half the plot of Mrs. Dalloway, and helps her envision To the Lighthouse to come. In October, she publishes a lengthy commemorative essay on John Evelyn’s diary, probing the diary’s power—and also how this seventeenth-century diarist differs from his contemporary descendants.

Keywords:   1920 diary, soul, Jacob's Room, W.N.P. Barbellion, Journal of a Disappointed Man, John Evelyn, Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse

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