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19 Jun 2003 08:31
The find, made during a house move, ranks high in the annals of literary discoveries. They highlight the acuteness and vision of Woolf’s style when she was a struggling 27-year-old unpublished writer.
However, they also controversially underline her snobbery and early anti-Semitism.
In a sketch headed Jews, she writes of Mrs Loeb: “... a fat Jewess, aged 56 (she tells her age to ingratiate herself), coarsely skinned, with drooping eyes and tumbled hair ... Her food, of course, swam in oil and was nasty.’‘
In a more sympathetic sketch, Miss Reeves, Woolf writes: “I imagine that her taste and insight are not fine; when she described people she ran into stock phrases, and took rather a cheap view. She seemed determined to be human also; to like people, even though they were stupid.”
The notes, filling 60 pages, cover February, March and November 1909.
After Woolf’s suicide in 1941, they passed to her husband Leonard. In 1968, while he was having all her manuscripts transcribed, he sent the notebook to mid-Wales to be typed up by a newly married student, Teresa Davies. But Leonard Woolf died the following year.
Uncertain what to do, Davies put the notebook away in a drawer. — Â
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