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Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Dear diary

"The best diarists aren't necessarily the best of men," writes Alastair Harper at the UK Guardian books blog, "though the best are, as it happens, usually men: grumpy, defeatist, perverted, drunken, misanthropic and misogynistic." My own favourite diarist is not a man, nor is she grumpy, defeatist, perverted, drunken, misanthropic, or misogynistic. Instead, Virginia Woolf is gossipy, neurotic, a wonderful mimic with a good memory for conversation, and the sheer pleasure she gets from unbuttoned, relaxed writing shimmers from every page. --But Harper's blog post makes me think how few diaries or journals by Caribbean writers have ever been published--none that I can think of, actually, if you don't count Andrew Salkey's Havana Journal and Georgetown Journal, which take the form of diaries but were always intended to be published, public narratives.

Whose diaries would I most like to read? I'd say Naipaul, but he almost certainly doesn't keep one. C.L.R. James's, but I don't believe he kept one either (and when, o when, will we get his full correspondence published?). Did Selvon? Martin Carter? Does Walcott? Does Lamming? The Caribbean seems to have excelled at just about every other literary genre--who might our great diarist be?


Jonathan said...

Naipaul gave us a peek into his diary in The Middle Passage--a few terse (and grumpy) entries in the Guyana chapter.

Nicholas Laughlin said...

He does record details of his travels in notebooks--he mentions them several times in his books, and some of them are deposited in the Naipaul archive in Tulsa--but that's not quite what I have in mind when I talk about a diary. I mean a daily, everyday record, unrelated to possible writing projects--not working notes for a future book, but simply an intimate record of the writer's life for his own consumption.