Daily Modernism

Daily Modernism: The Literary Diaries of Virginia Woolf, Antonia White, Elizabeth Smart, and Anaïs Nin

Copyright Date: 2000
Pages: 424
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  • Book Info
    Daily Modernism
    Book Description:

    Redrawing established boundaries between genres, Podnieks builds a broad critical and theoretical range on which she maps the diary as an aesthetic work, showing how diaries inscribe the aesthetics of literary modernisms. Drawing on feminist theory, literary history, biography, and personal anecdotes, she argues that the diary is an especially subversive space for women writers. Podnieks details how Virginia Woolf, Antonia White, Elizabeth Smart, and Anaïs Nin wrote their diaries under the pretence that they were private, while always intending them to be published. She travelled extensively to examine the original diary manuscripts and offers unique first-hand descriptions of the manuscripts that underscore the artistic intentions of their authors.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6824-2
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-12)

    As a teenager I often wore a perfume called “Anaïs Anaïs.” I was intrigued by the name on the bottle as much as by the scent inside. I had no idea what the words meant, and it was only years later that I discovered the perfume had been named after a woman, Anaïs Nin. I was first introduced to her and her diaries in the mid-1980s, in an undergraduate course on twentieth-century American literature. I had been keeping a diary of my own for over a decade and treasured it as a manuscript of sorts, for I was writing it...

  6. I Blurring Boundaries: Mapping the Diary as Autobiography and Fiction
    (pp. 13-44)

    Diaries, as we traditionally think of them, are private records of a person’s life. From the Heian period in Japan (794-1185), when women kept hidden “pillow books,” to the twentieth century in the West, where girls keep their thoughts in books literally under lock and key, diaries have always seemed synonymous with secrecy. In contrast, though autobiographies are also texts about personal and private experiences, they, like novels, are written for a public audience. While this distinction may hold true in certain cases, a closer examination of diaries written by English-speaking literary women exposes the myth of genre specificity. The...

  7. 2 “That profoundly female, and feminist, genre”
    (pp. 45-70)

    I was fourteen when I received the book which I made my first diary. It came in my stocking on Christmas morning, a book of blank, unlined pages that was titled simplyThe Next to Nothing Book. I put it aside in favour of bigger, more exciting gifts, but that night I opened it and wrote, “Dear Nothing,” and it became something - just as hundreds of years earlier Fanny Burney had addressed her diary to “Dear Nobody” and made it a ”Somebody.” At that moment I had no idea that such a small stocking stuffer would become perhaps the...

  8. 3 Life Writing a Modernist Text
    (pp. 71-96)

    InThe Forms of Autobiography, William C. Spengemann focuses on issues which I have taken up in chapter I, but which bear repeating here because of their implications for an investigation of diaries as modernist texts. Specifically, he describes the two most pervasive approaches to autobiography as being an acknowledgment, on the one hand, of its inescapable grounding in biography and, on the other, of its inevitable turning towards fiction. As Spengemann suggests in the passage quoted above, modernism’s practitioners and critics were especially preoccupied with the self and how it was rendered in literary works, and this concern makes...

  9. 4 Virginia Woolf’s Diary: “the proper stuff of fiction”
    (pp. 97-164)

    On 3 January a nearly fifteen-year-old Virginia Stephen made this first entry in her 1897 diary: “We have all started to keep a record of the new year - Nessa, Adrian and I”(PA,5). Though siblings Vanessa and Adrian began such diaries as well, their sister’s journals are what hold attention one hundred years later.² The first extant texts, from 1897 to 1909, were edited by Mitchell E. Leaska and published in 1990 asA Passionate Apprentice: The Early Journals.They complement the five-volume seriesThe Diary of Virginia Woolf. Edited by Anne Olivier Bell and Andrew McNeillie, it...

  10. 5 “Still waiting for revelation: Key to unlock”: The Diaries of Antonia White, Literary Case Study
    (pp. 165-224)

    In a diary entry for 24 June 1964, the sixty-five-year-old Antonia White raised the issue of publishing the diary which she had been keeping for most of her adult life:

    It worries me that I have not yet had the chance to tell Sue about my will and this notebook [...] I know that it seems conceited to imagine that anyone might ever want to publish any extracts. And I can most truly say that nothing in all these volumes covering, I suppose, something well over 30 years [...] has been written with any idea of publication [...] I ought...

  11. 6 “Keep out / Keep out / snooting snout”: The Irresistible Diaries of Elizabeth Smart
    (pp. 225-282)

    “Bill said write all the time keep a diary - so here it is” (NS, 5). And here it was that on 6 March 1933 Elizabeth Smart introduced her diary to an as-yet-unidentified audience. Seven years later, on 1 March 1940, she revealed just what this diary had come to represent: “But this my book I carry everywhere, and its blank unwritten pages and shabby cover - its menial use for dancing notes, addresses, and accounts deglamourize it. I must not forget it is my heavenly key - my work - my purpose”(NS,239-40). Just as White used her...

  12. 7 “I was born to hear applause”: Self-Promotion and Performance in the Diaries of Anaïs Nin
    (pp. 283-344)

    “Volume 1 of the Diary is published!” (D, 6: 396). So exclaimed Anaïs in the spring of 1966, in what would be volume 6 ofThe Diary Anaïs Nin. Volume 1 was only the beginning. She would publish five in her lifetime; volume 6 (1980), fourEarly Diaries(1978-85), the unexpurgated supplementsHenry and June(1986),Incest1992),Fire(1995), andNearer the Moon(1996) were published posthumously. The result is perhaps the most comprehensive self-record of a person’s life known to date. The diaries begin in 1914, When Nin is eleven years old, and end in the summer of...

  13. Conclusion
    (pp. 345-358)

    One of the most rewarding aspects of this study for me, personally, was the opportunity to travel to different locations in order to examine the original diary manuscripts of Virginia Woolf, Antonia White, Elizabeth Smart, and Anaïs Nin. It was a particular pleasure to meet Rupert Pole, Nin’s common-law husband for the last thirty years of her life. As well, I appreciated the fact that White’s daughter and son-in-law, Susan and Thomas Chitty, invited me to their Sussex cottage so that I could examine the original diaries. The effect of these two experiences and the excitement of seeing Smart’s and...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 359-380)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 381-396)
  16. Index
    (pp. 397-407)