David and Sylvia

I have a few half-written posts lying about in the draft section of Blogger, and tonight – coming in late, halfway through a book review and with the prospect of another Great British Bake Off recap on the horizon, I am turning to one of them.  I no longer remember the wider framework which I intended to use for a review of Sylvia & David: The Townsend Warner/Garnett letters.  So, instead, here are three wonderful quotations Sylvia Townsend Warner wrote to David Garnett…

Warner to Garnett, 1967: I go home on Saturday, and on Monday the decorator comes, and all the books will have to be moved from Valentine’s sitting-room and dispersed through a house where there are far too many books already.  It will be a fine opportunity to read books I have forgotten we have, and even to find some I thought we had lost.  Of course we should also see it as an opportunity to weed out books we don’t want.  Can you weed books?  I can’t.  I discarded some Ruskin about thirty years ago and have often regretted it since.  I don’t know why exactly – but I know it was a mistake.  I might have read it and liked it very much.

Warner to Garnett, 1972: ‘What a lot of books we have written!  This is borne in on me because I have carried basketsful of them out of this room into the next’

Warner to Garnett, 1974: ‘I have been having visitors too.  One of them was Peggy Ashcroft who summarised the plight of ageing actresses by saying in a smouldering voice “Now I have only Volumnia left me.”. . .

7 thoughts on “David and Sylvia

  • October 3, 2012 at 4:00 am
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    First of all, yay at the prospect of another Great British Bake Off recap! Second, while STW was clearly writing more delightful letters, what are Garnett's like? I have read nothing by him and wonder if this might be a good introduction (since, I'm sorry to say, I'm not all that eager to grab up Lady Into Fox).

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    • October 3, 2012 at 10:34 am
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      It's been nearly a year since I read this – maybe more, actually – so it's difficult to remember… but I did cut one of his whilst editing this draft, and I doubt I deliberately excluded him in the first place, so I think they might not have been as wonderful as STW's! The collection as a whole is lovely, but not in the same league as STW/Maxwell.

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  • October 3, 2012 at 6:13 am
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    I like STW's comment about weeding books, and know exactly how she feels about discarding Ruskin. Even when I get rid of books I know I will never read again I feel as if I should have kept them, because I might need them, or might discover something I missed first time around.

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    • October 3, 2012 at 10:34 am
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      I think, if I have even a moment's pause over weeding a book, it has to stay. Not worth the regret!

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  • October 3, 2012 at 9:52 am
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    I can't weed out books – and when I do, I regret it terribly. Discovered recently I had got rid of my copy of "Lady Into Fox" and also my "Little Women" from childhood – what I was thinking of???

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    • October 3, 2012 at 10:35 am
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      Oh, Karen, what WERE you thinking?? The horrors! I think sometimes the impulse to be Good overcomes us, and we don't think about the longterm regrets…

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    • October 3, 2012 at 12:58 pm
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      I know – I've metaphorically kicked myself a lot recently as I had to re-buy quite a few Elizabeth Bowens too. But I have found a nice copy of Lady Into Fox/Man in the Zoo and asked for a fancy Little Women for Christmas from OH. I do rather regret my children copy though :((

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