The Common Reader

Reading whatever's interesting, whenever it was written. 'I rejoice to concur with the common reader.' Samuel Johnson

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The Common Reader 105 HN points 13 Sep 21
Time was I would be able to go the National Gallery on my lunch break and watch repeats of Frasier while I dealt with the post in the mornings. Sometimes I would sit in Trafalgar Square reading art history, or walk around St James’ Park and see the pelicans. I used to go to talks and lectures, during the day or straight after work. Heck, when it was really quiet we used to go drinking at lunch on the terrace looking over the Thames. There were days when this was marvellous and days when it was part of the mind-flogging inertia of working in Parliament, which is as quiet as a morgue during recess.
The Common Reader 70 HN points 30 Aug 21
What startles the first-time reader of Virginia Woolf’s diaries is her constant rudeness. She compares James Joyce to a “queasy undergraduate scratching his pimples.” T. S. Eliot’s first wife, Vivienne, was “unwholesome, powdered, insane,” and all in all a “bag of ferrets.” Clive Bell’s mother was “a little rabbit faced woman.” And Lady Cunard is described, after a lunch in 1928, as a “ridiculous little parakeet faced woman.” Like much of Woolf’s diaries, that last description has an echo in her fiction. In
The Common Reader 70 HN points 06 Sep 21
Biography has a challenge: how to represent a personality in writing when digital technology can do it so much better. Virginia Woolf, inevitably, had already understood this dilemma a hundred years ago. ‘Since we live in an age when a thousand cameras are pointed, by newspapers, letters, and diaries, at every character from every angle, we must be prepared to admit contradictory versions of the same face. Biography will enlarge its scope by hanging up looking glasses at odd corners. And yet from all this diversity it will bring out, not a riot of confusion, but a richer unity.’