Item 95 - Draft letter from R.C. Trevelyan to Virginia Woolf

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Draft letter from R.C. Trevelyan to Virginia Woolf


  • 25 Apr 1934 (Creation)

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1 item: original draft in pencil, with further corrections and conclusion in ink.

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Was very 'interested and pleased' by Virginia's letter [17/91]; was afraid her 'natural "novelist's prejudice"' might have made her more critical than she was; her criticism seems 'probably just, and certainly helpful' as it makes it clearer to him both what he 'would like to do, and what I can and cannot do'. Would like, as she suggests to 'deal with Monday and Tuesday', and has 'tried, both in prose and verse, and failed, and shall no doubt try again'. Greatly admires some of Virginia's 'own experiments in that direction', and sympathises with 'Goldie [Lowes Dickinson]'s enthusiasm in the letter Forster puts in his Life'; if he himself had that sort of gift, he would 'probably have shown it before now'. Virginia has found a 'method of expressing intimate imaginative experiences and feelings and sensations in a very beautiful way' and though he would like to has so far not succeeded in doing so himself. He deliberately 'kept the immediate world of things seen and felt from the dialogues' and largely also out of the St Francis story as well. Feels that if a dialogue is 'to come alive at all', it must 'do so chiefly by its intellectual and dialectical interest' from which 'novelistic, or even poetic elements' are a distraction and make the reader 'expect something that he ought not to look for'. Wonders whether he could find a way to convey 'immediate experiences of things and of human beings' or 'a narrative method which would deal primarily with ideas, and character as expressed through the intellect' yet 'not altogether exclude novelistic or poetic vision'. Thinks that 'a certain spice of the comedic and the quasi-Rabelaisian' could help him, and is trying something of the kind at the moment; does not know whether he will succeed, but Virginia's letter will help him 'think more clearly' about what he wants to do.

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