Post image for Diarists

30 December 1982

Last night in bed, I dipped into the second volume of Virginia Woolf’s Diaries, and the Diaries of Franz Kafka. The desire to imitate a diarist is extraordinarily strong, I find – perhaps because in the diary, more than in anything else, one has such a very condensed, compact version of a person’s spirit. Not every line that a novelist writes is recognisably his and his alone, but every line of a diarist is distinctive. Because the diarist can say exactly what he or she wants to say without bothering about any conventions, any standards of right and wrong whatsoever. The diarist is free to doodle, if you like – and doodling tells you more about a person than virtually any other way of making signs.

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