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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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The Loose-Leaf Diary

The Loose-Leaf Diary

(p.185) 8 The Loose-Leaf Diary
Virginia Woolf's Modernist Path

Barbara Lounsberry

University Press of Florida

In 1927, Woolf embarks on a two-and-a-half-year experiment with a loose-leaf diary, meant to catch more stray or “loose” thoughts. Her 1927 loose-leaf diary seems to plunge her into her creative unconscious. An off-handed air emerges from this diary, which seems a holding pond spontaneously spouting scenes. Orlando comes to her in this diary and the play-poem The Waves. The loose-leaf diary both invites unfettered fancy and serves as a site to preserve, and even restrain, Woolf’s “gushing mind” as she enjoys the “ardour and lust of creation.” Touchingly, at this time when Woolf is awash in spontaneous invention, she reads in August 1927 the first published version of Katherine Mansfield’s Journal. She could hardly fail to note there Mansfield’s greater struggle and self-doubt. Yet Woolf finds Mansfield's Journal most suggestive. Mansfield endorses androgyny there; she describes an imaginary child who changes gender. Journal passages also resonate uncannily with Woolf’s own growing ideas for The Waves, and Mansfield offers the concept of “derision” which Woolf will take for Three Guineas. More than anything, however, Mansfield’s 1927 Journal presents Woolf with ideas and a cautionary life story for A Room of One’s Own.

Keywords:   1927 diary, loose-leaf diary, creative unconscious, spontaneous invention, Orlando, The Waves, Katherine Mansfield, Katherine Mansfield's journal, androgyny, Three Guineas

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