Random acquisitions

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are often surprisingly good.  I was passed this book by another person at the weekend:

Daphne du Maurier used this vehicle to look back on her childhood and young womanhood, up to the time of her marriage.  Fortunately for herself and us, she kept schoolgirl diaries for much of the period, containing notes of her daily activities, her reading, and some reflective or egocentric or gushing commentaries on her own life as seen at the time.  She reconstructs her fantasy life as a child, which is fascinating when you compare it with her later writings  (I particularly liked her alter ego Eric Avon, who left public school and her imagination at the same moment in 1922;  even in 1977 she was still wondering how he got on at Cambridge and what his career would have been).

Sometimes du Maurier comments on the contrast between what appeared in her diary and the intensity of what was in fact happening to her, or enlarges on events only summarised in her diary entry, but often she lets them stand, without comment, apology or apparent embarrassment.  Her account as a whole is spare but frank, and the tone is curiously objective throughout, as if her younger self was a different person altogether, or one of the remarkable characters born of her own imagination.

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4 responses »

  1. “as if her younger self was … one of the remarkable characters born of her own imagination.”

    I wonder if that’s true, in a way? Maybe by the time she finished shaping the way she presented herself, the Daphne-on-the-page felt very different from Daphne-muddling-through-real-life.

    • Yes, we all tidy ourselves up for the public, no doubt; and also if you have had a long and demanding life journey, perhaps you do become a different person – no longer identifying with that girl who happened to use your name for a while.

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