On Remembering Someone Once Close to Us

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“Arnold Bennett died last night; which leaves me sadder than I should have supposed. A lovable genuine man; impeded, somehow a little awkward in life; well-meaning; ponderous; kindly; coarse; knowing he was coarse; dimly floundering and feeling for something else; glutted with success; wounded in his feelings; avid; thicklipped; prosaic intolerably; rather dignified; set upon writing; yet always taken in; deluded by splendour and success; but na├»ve; an old bore; an egotist; much at the mercy fof life for all his competence; a shopkeeper’s view of literature; yet with the rudiments, covered over with fat and prosperity and the desire for hideous Empire furniture; of sensibility. Some real understanding power, as well as a gigantic absorbing power. These are the sort of things that I think by fits and starts this morning, as I sit journalising: I remember his determination to write 1,000 words daily; and how he trotted off to do it that night, and feel some sorrow that now he will never sit down and begin mechanically covering his regulation number of pages in his workmanlike beautiful but dull hand. Queer how one regrets the dispersal of anybody who seemed–as I say–genuine: who had direct contact with life–for he abused me; and I yet rather wished him to go on abusing me; and me abusing him. An element in life–even in mine that was so remote–taken away. This is what one minds.”
–Virginia Woolf, Sat., Mar. 28th, 1931, A Writer’s Diary

Note: There is an entry in AB’s diary for 1930 in which he records that he went to a dinner party at which VW was another guest, and adds: “Virginia is all right; other guests held their breath to listen to us.”

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