Alexandra Johnson The Hidden Writer

ISBN 13: 9780385478298

The Hidden Writer

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9780385478298: The Hidden Writer
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In October, 1928 Virginia Woolf sat at her trestle writing table, a notebook open before her, and wrote, "Whom do I tell when I tell a blank page? " It's a question that generations of readers and writers searching to map a creative life have also asked of their own diaries. No other document quite compares with the intimacies and yearnings, the confessions and desires as those revealed in the pages of a diary. The Hidden Writer is the first book to focus on how each generation of writers has used the diary to independently solve a common set of creative and life questions. Organized chronologically, the book traces the creative arc of seven writers from age seven to seventy, showing how the diary, as catalyst, helped shape the work and life.
Presenting seven portraits of literary and creative lives, Alexandra Johnson illuminates the secret world of writers and their diaries. A time-lapse study of confidence, The Hidden Writer shows how seven very different writers all used the diary to negotiate the obstacle course of silence and ambition, envy, voice and fame. Sofia Tolstoy's diary describes the conflict between love and vocation; in Katherine Mansfield's and Virginia Woolf's friendship and writings, the nettle of rivalry among equals is pursued, and in Alice James' diary, started at age 40, the feelings of competition within a creative family are elaborated.
Winner of the PEN /Jerard Fund Award Special Citation for a non-fiction work in progress, The Hidden Writer is essential for anyone interested in the connection between diaries and creative life. "

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From Kirkus Reviews:

Focusing primarily on seven female writers, this insightful study examines a form that retains its uniquely personal quality, whether or not the work is ever meant to be published. To exemplify the ``silent creative underground'' of diary keepers, Johnson, who teaches writing at Harvard, gives a capsule sketch of Marjory Fleming, who died a month before her ninth birthday in 1811 and whose diary extracts, embellished with ``a sentimental and utterly false story'' of her life, made her the posthumous toast of childhood- and death- adoring Victorians. Alice James is seen turning thwarted ambition and intelligence into long- term invalidism, finally, at age 40, embarking on a diary that begins as a record of loneliness but becomes a vehicle for observation and introspection. Katherine Mansfield and Virginia Woolf, friends and rivals, entrust a part of their ongoing conversation on creativity not to each other but to their respective journals. As a ``professionally private writer,'' Ana‹s Nin explores the differences between truth and accuracy in her infamous multivolume, multiversion ``Liary.'' Although Johnson says her object is ``showing how a creative mind makes its passage into and through the world,'' she appeals at least as much to the emotions as to the intellect, as when she determinedly elicits sympathy for the hard-working and embattled Sonya Tolstoy, while also making it clear that such a simple response is inadequate for the complex, forceful woman who was scribe, editor, publisher, wife, estate manager, and diarist. Even crusty May Sarton, depicted as as a woman observing ``the bittersweet autumn of the body, the wintry silences of old age,'' takes on a mildly sentimental sheen. An elegant introduction to some interesting women, although the revealing voices of the diarists themselves are filtered through the studied, self-conscious voice of the academic. -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Library Journal:

Johnson, who teaches memoir writing at Harvard and Wellesley colleges, provides an engrossing examination of the relationship between diary writing and creativity, between writers' lives and diary writings, and the evolution of private to public writing. She presents seven narrative portraits chronologically, beginning with six-year-old diarist Marjory Fleming from the early 19th century to accomplished writer May Sarton, who began diary writing at age 60 in the 1970s. Other portraits are of Sonya Tolstoy; Alice James; Virginia Woolf; Katherine Mansfield, who evolved as literary figures through diary writing; and Anais Nin, who, intertwining passionate sex with diary writing, became a "professionally private writer." These portraits reflect Johnson's skill at interweaving biography with diaries. Fittingly, she concludes the book with an epilog written as diary entries. For public libraries.?Jeris Cassel, Rutgers Univ. Libs., New Brunswick, N.J.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780385478304: The Hidden Writer: Diaries and the Creative Life

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ISBN 10:  0385478305 ISBN 13:  9780385478304
Publisher: Anchor, 1998
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Johnson, Alexandra
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Book Description Doubleday & Company, New York, New York, U.S.A., 1997. Hard Cover Quarter-Cloth. Condition: BRAND NEW. Dust Jacket Condition: BRAND NEW. First Edition. [275 pp] . FIRST EDITION HARDCOVER - BRAND NEW in BRAND NEW Mylar-protected DJ. Susan Sontag says "Unlike so many recent books which simply reduce the writing to the writer, Alexandria Johnson's book deploys a biographical approach to complicate our sense of what the literary vocation can be---as lived; particularly as lived by women. She writes out of love and respect for literature." Flawless. GIFT QUALITY. Seller Inventory # 08625

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