Form and Style in Writers’ Diaries, 1915-1962
By Anna Jackson
Routledge – 2010 – 186 pages
The diary is a genre that is often thought of as virtually formless, a "capacious hold-all" for the writer’s thoughts, and as offering unmediated access to the diarist’s true self. Focusing on the diaries of Katherine Mansfield, Virginia Woolf, Antonia White, Joe Orton, John Cheever, and Sylvia Plath, this book looks at how six very different professional writers have approached the diary form with its particular demands and literary potential. As a sequence of separate entries the diary is made up of both gaps and continuities, and the different ways diarists negotiate these aspects of the diary form has radical effects on how their diaries represent both the world and the biographical self. The different published editions of the diaries by Katherine Mansfield, Virginia Woolf and Sylvia Plath show how editorial decisions can construct sometimes startlingly different biographical portraits. Yet all diaries are constructed, and all diary constructions depend on how the writer works with the diary form.
Acknowledgments Introduction: Form and the Diary 1: Antonia White 2: John Cheever 3: Joe Orton 4: Katherine Mansfield 5: Virginia Woolf 6: Sylvia Plath 7: The Dash 8: Sentence Fragments: Diary Cows? 9: "I" And "You" Conclusion: "And coming here this morning…" Notes Bibliography Index
Anna Jackson lectures in English at Victoria University of Wellington. She is the author, with Charles Ferrall, of Juvenile Literature and British Society, 1850-1950: The Age of Adolescence.