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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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Spare, Modernist Perfection

Spare, Modernist Perfection

(p.90) 5 Spare, Modernist Perfection
Virginia Woolf's Modernist Path

Barbara Lounsberry

University Press of Florida

Woolf appears in consummate command in her 1924 diary. She curbs her number of diary entries and brakes her previous need for praise. London supplies the motion she craves. As she finishes Mrs. Dalloway and her Common Reader essays, she sends out shoots of other works. The diaries she reads assist her. The Letters and Journals of Anne Chalmers, which Woolf reviews in February 1924, were edited by Chalmers’ daughter. They recall and preserve a dead mother, describe summer holidays at the Scottish seaside with “a large and clever family,” and even offer the name Mrs. Ramsay. Woolf then reads The Diary of the Lady Anne Clifford with an introduction by Vita Sackville-West, another case of a daughter thinking back through, and immortalizing, a dead foremother. Lady Clifford's Renaissance diary also offers women’s history and grist for Woolf’s essays “The Elizabethan Lumber Room” and “Donne after Three Centuries.” Even more important, its tale of a ferocious fight over a daughter’s inheritance inspires the plot of Orlando. In July, Woolf reviews the early journals of Stendhal, the father of the psychological novel. They direct her mind (yet again) to the soul and to the many nuances and contradictions of character.

Keywords:   1924 diary, The Letters and Journals of Anne Chalmers, Mrs. Ramsay, Vita Sackville-West, The Diary of the Lady Anne Clifford, Elizabethan Lumber Room, John Donne, Orlando, Stendhal, psychological novel

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