I finally finished Hermione Lee’s biography of Edith Wharton. I probably won’t reread it, but it was interesting enough to slog through all 800-plus pages.
I copied out two quotes for you.
The first one has to do with the books in Edith’s library. She frequently wrote in the books she was reading and had no time for people who believed that books should be treated like fragile objects. She was fond of this quote, from W. N. P. Barbellion’s Journal of a Disappointed Man, “A Book is a Person and not a Thing.”
The second quote is one of Wharton’s diary entries from 1934, when she was working on her novel The Buccaneers.
“What is writing a novel like?
1. The beginning: A ride through a spring wood.
2. The middle: The Gobi desert.
3. The end: A night with a lover.
I am now in the Gobi desert.”
When Edith Wharton wrote these words, she was 72 years old. She had published 20 novels, more than 85 short stories, and won a Pulitzer.
I think this gives all of us permission to grumble a bit when stuck in the Gobi desert, but then we have to go back to work.