And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

13 March

John Manningham,

‘Vpon a tyme when Burbidge played Richard III, there was a citizen grone soe farr in liking with him, that before shee went from the play shee appointed him to come that night vnto hir by the name of Richard the Third. Shakespeare ouerhearing their conclusion went before, was intertained and at his game ere Burbidge came. Then message being brought that Richard the Third was at the dore, Shakespeare caused returne to be made that William the Conqueror was before Richard the Third. Shakespeare’s name William.’

Shakespeare’s name William


Neil Campell,

‘About one in the morning a person with a lanthorn entered my room very silently, and told me that the prefect requested to see me immediately. In order to avoid all noise and observation, he led me by a back way, and through a stable, into the house. I found the Count in a state of extreme dismay, and occupied with his secretary. I sincerely participated in his feelings on hearing from him the intelligence he had just received from Aix and Valence, viz., that Napoleon had entered Grenoble upon the 7th at 8 p.m., and that General Marchand, with the staff and most of the officers, had retired. It may be inferred from this that the rest and the private soldiers have betrayed their duty.

This state of affairs is so serious, that I determined to go off immediately to Nice, in order to convey the earliest intimation of these melancholy circumstances to Lord William Bentinck at Genoa. I shall also report to him my observation as to the bad disposition of the troops at Antibes, and the little reliance that can be placed upon the regular army, so that he may prepare for the worst.

No actual disposition has been made by the Piedmontese for the passage of the long bridge over the Var, which separates them from Antibes.

Set off from Draguignan at 3 A.M., and arrived at Nice at 5 P.M. At 10 P.M. went on board of H.M.S. ‘Partridge’ at Villa Franca, but it blew so hard that she could not with safety attempt to beat out.

Lord Sunderland has arrived from Marseilles. There it is universally believed that the English had favoured Napoleon’s return, and the people are furious against us. the same idea also prevails everywhere in the South of France and in Piedmont. A newspaper of Turin, just arrived at Nice, states positively this to be the case!’

Of Napoleon, and a turtle


King Kalakaua,

‘The Prince received us in the front entrance of the Building and conducted us to a side room on the left or East Room on the second story. On a small table was placed a floral cushing of white jassimin flowers and the word ALOHA inscribed in the center in large letters made of the Red Cherry blossom. When this rare and precious token of friendship met my eyes, a thrill of gratefulness penetrated my whole frame and only restrained the emotion by the faint exclamation how beautiful.

Within the door, H. I. H. Princess Higashifushiminomiya advanced to welcome us and led me to a sofa near the fire, bade me to sit, she seating herself on my left. Trays of warm tea and cordials were placed before us and through the medium of the interpretation of Mrs. Uyeno the conversation alluding to the inclemency of the weather and other topics, she arose to allow Princess Fushiminomiya and Princess Kitashirakawa to be presented. When Luncheon was announced she arose and offering myself lead her to the table. . . . I sat on Princess left and Prince Fushiminomiya opposite.

When the Roast were brought in His Imperial Highness Prince Higashi arose and proposed my health in a most cordial manner. In arising to reply I was so choked with emotion that I hardly could speak, but in a broken sentence thanked him for his kindness.’

The king of Hawaii in Japan


Thomas Hardy,

‘M. writes to me that when a farmer at Puddlehinton who did not want rain found that a neighbouring farmer had sent to the parson to pray for it, and it had come, he went and abused the other farmer, and told him ’twas a very dirty trick of his to catch God A’mighty unawares, and he ought to be ashamed of it.

Our servant Ann brings us a report, which has been verified, that the carpenter who made a coffin for Mr. W. who died the other day, made it too short. A bystander said satirically, ‘Anybody would think you’d made it for yourself, John!’ (the carpenter was a short man). The maker said, ‘Ah - they would!’ and fell dead instantly.’

White phantoms, cloven tongues


George Bernard Shaw,

‘Read a paper on ‘Shelley’s Politics’ to the Shelley Society, at University College. . . worked all afternoon at the Shelley lecture. There were only half a dozen people there.’

GBS dines out


Raja Varma,

‘Our opinion of Ms Faridinji, the Dewan’s private secretary is that he is a glib talker, but insincere in the extreme. He is ever intent on pleasing Europeans and do[es] not seem to care much for natives.’

Painting with brother


Mary Thorp
, governess

‘This afternoon we had a German soldier & an officer in the house to “see what they could still discover” in the way of copper & other metal. They were inoffensive, didn’t come into the rooms, except at no. 20, in the apartments of the married servants (concierges, Jean, chauffeur) & into the kitchen. They took some notes, so will probably send for certain things. I hear 485 frs were paid for the metal sent them by Mr W, but they “make a perquisition” nevertheless. It seems they photographed the people carrying their metal to the Luxembourg station; it will probably appear in their illustrated papers as: “The Belgians are so poor, they run to sell us their copper ware”!’

In want of a winter coat


Jean Guéhenno,

‘Why I keep this diary? To remember, and to put a bit of order inside me, inside my life. Through discipline, the way one does exercises. But it would be unfortunate if I contented myself with these notes, these disjointed fragments with no rhythm to them. All this cannot make a book. A great book is a rhythm that imposes itself on the reader: the reader necessarily adopts the rhythm without even realizing it, the way one follows a companion’s steps. May I just once write a book that leads the way. A diary hardly says anything but where one is coming from, and it is where one is going that is important, where one wants to go, and that can only be said in books, works one has reflected on, composed through our will.

Anthology. Translate Whitman’s wonderful poem: “A Word Out of the Sea.” How he learned to sing on the banks of Paumanok when he was a child by listening to a bird calling its vanished mate day and night, while the bass voice of the sea repeated, to all its waves, death, death. . .’

France has lost her soul


Kenneth Rose,
historian and writer

‘Saw the Earl of Halifax about Curzon. Curzon was pathetic in his later years. He was often overruled by the Cabinet and that hurt him very much.

When Curzon laughed he did so from the waist and shook all over.

One day the Cabinet was discussing Oswald Mosley. Curzon expressed the hope that the Cabinet would not be deflected from its proper course by ‘the conduct of my sinister son-in-law’.

Even if Curzon had been in the House of Commons in 1923 he would still not have become Prime Minister. He was too unpopular in his own party.

Halifax agrees that Chamberlain wanted him, Halifax, to be Prime Minister in 1940 - ‘but this was a stupid plan for a variety of reasons'.

The day Curzon died in 1925, Halifax met Lord Salisbury in the street and said to him: ‘Were you a great friend of Curzon?’ Salisbury replied: ‘Yes, I suppose I was, if he had any.’

Halifax once casually mentioned to Curzon that he was going to look at the chateaux on the Loire. The next day he received sheets and sheets and sheets of information about them in Curzon’s own hand.’

Curzon’s fate was sealed


Raoul Ruiz,

‘Cloudy and fatal. Yesterday I started a new experience: a parallel carnet. As if someone said, a light way of leading a double life. And who says double says triple: I bought a third carnet (made of leather, in homage to [-]).

Last night I woke up at 2 am and I started to read the Hebdromadaire, the conversations with Prévert: “ ‘Are the sages of interest to you?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Why?’ ‘Because I’m ignorant.’ ‘What it’s for you to be ignorant?’ ‘I ignore it.’ “. And adds: “Maybe the ignorant ignores what he knows and the sage knows what it is that he ignores”. Last night the semi-insomnia was provoked by the fear of filling the sound bar too much, to charge of commentaries without knowing much le comment dire.

During the mixing Sergio Castilla called from Chile, pleading me to not use for my film the Delora nº 3 by Leng (or that I use it but that I stop using it). I don’t know how he got the number of the mixing room.

Second day of mixing. It rains. I’ll go at noon to give a look (again) to the old book shops. I keep searching for Le chant de l’equipage by Mac Orlan. I started to leaf through Claude Farrère. Hesitating if entering or not in the meanders of Thomas de Quincey: “The bad fortune wheel”. It only takes three lines to bring up the despair and the desire to die. I can’t manage to concentrate on the Chilean film, which is approaching me quickly and menacingly. I have to pay the phone.

Curious to write on top of the wrinkles of the paper (which seems to turn eloquent to us as it fills with signs, as it a second writing would fight to emerge and impose itself).

11.10 hrs. Some images for Cofralandes: series of interiors that culminate via approaching into detail shots (an object), that takes us to another interior, until that from detail to detail we find ourselves in a garbage dump (or in a store) in which all the objects seen in the other interiors can be seen. Each object tells its story. Stories of a salt shaker: salt flats, salaries, rites of the salt. Ashtray: same.

19.30 hrs. Back to the mixing. We’re in the third reel. I had lunch with Lucho Villamán, who’s preparing for his trip to Chile. I waver between preparing something to eat or go to a restaurant. But without means to talk it’s almost preferred to stay at home. To read and write.

Each day I give a step more towards my novels. I decided to finish Jamaica Inn, but I’ll need another title and I can’t find it.

Finally it’s nice to write on this paper. Permanent sensation of writing a palimpsest (is it written like that?).

I bought Positif. Articles on the documentary. I guess they’ll say something that isn’t the usual common ground. Picabia: “L’art est le culte de l’erreur”. And Gauguin: “Quand l’Ètat s’en mêle, il finit bien les choses”.

How to make a film that isn’t poetic art.

I started the reading of The Prince of Fools by Gérard de Nerval. The only that I don’t manage to do is go to the cinema. I don’t have a way to complaint that people don’t go to see my films. In fact, I don’t complain. Tomorrow I’ll do an effort and I’ll go see Traffic, to see Benicio del Toro act, to whom Paulo proposed the main role in The Ground Beneath Her Feet.

I saw on TV, in Actors Studio, an interview with Stanley Donen. Always surprising the simplicity and brutality of the American formulas. The ideal of our time: formulas so simple that they turn mysterious. “Encore une fois: le prince des sots”. May it be.

21.15 hrs. What is a novel? What is a film? What is art? To ask Serge Daney what is at this point. It isn’t, but what is a not Daney? A common French? The French mediocrity. No, nothing. Good, we’ll see. All that is see is not novel. What is novelated is what it’s told as revealed. On the account of what? Say it, Vaché.

At this point I’m little by little recovering the library of Paul de René that was burnt by the Nazis and a from which a few copies are left. All with the same kind of filling.

It seems that Pinochet will be judged for concealment. “Concealment”, the word that perfectly fits Chile. Country of concealment. Lost between absolutes and tales (see Lulio).

I have to do something with my books that isn’t burning them... Or sell them and win money, which would be worse. But so much ungrateful complaining.

The next week I travel to Chile (I said Chile: I travel to Cuba, where Valeria is, which, in this world, is my wife). Well. Tonight readings and leisure. Some red wine and [-] unreasonable.’

Day of disasters


Robin Cook,

‘I am not out of the house before Jack Straw calls me to urge me not to resign. Jack and I go back a long way and were the two junior members of Peter Shore’s Treasury team in the early eighties. I got the impression that he clearly wants me to stay out of concern for me as a friend.

The case he put to me was rather legalistic. He went over how resolution 1441 gives us all the legal authority we require to launch war. I responded that my problem was the political and diplomatic absurdity of a unilateral war even if it were legal.

I saw Tony before Cabinet. I found him half-amused, half-furious with IDS. He had given IDS a briefing in Privy Councillor terms, and, to his dismay, IDS had walked straight out of the door and disclosed to camera that the Prime Minister thought a second resolution now ‘very unlikely’. Since the fiction that Tony still hopes to get a second resolution is central to his strategy for keeping the Labour Party in check, it is not welcome news that IDS has told the world that not even Tony believes this.

I began by joking: “I’m getting so many regular checks from colleagues that I’m beginning to think I’m on suicide watch. I wouldn’t be entirely surprise if someone came along and took away my belt and shoelaces to keep me out of harm’s way.” He laughed and said - and I think he meant it - “I hope it doesn’t come to that.”

I was frank with him that my mind was made up, and that I would not mislead him into thinking that he could persuade me to change it. However, I was equally clear that I was not running any other agenda, or lending myself to an attack on his leadership. “You have been the most successful Labour leader in my lifetime. I want you to go on being leader and to on being successful.”

At this point his body language visibly softened as his muscles relaxed and he leaned back into his sofa. After that he was open, almost philosophical. All he said confirmed my impression that he is mystified as to quite how he got into such a hole and baffled as to whether there is any way out other than persisting in the strategy that has created his present difficulties.

He told me that he was going to call a special Cabinet meeting when the process in the UN was complete, and I promised that I would make no public move while he was still working for a result in the UN.

After me he was seeing Clare [Short], which had the effect of delaying Cabinet for fifteen minutes. [. . .]

When I got back to the office there was a message from the Foreign Office to say that Jack would be very grateful if I could represent the government at the funeral on Saturday of Zoran Djindjic, the Prime Minister of Serbia, who was assassinated yesterday. I readily agreed as I had worked with Zoran for years. We cooperated closely when I was Foreign Secretary and he was in opposition. It is a terrible irony that throughout those years he managed to avoid being assassinated by Milosevic, only to be killed now that he has brought Milosevic to the bar of justice. There is also something of an irony in that my last official engagement representing the government will be attending a funeral.’

Point of departure


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And so made significant . . .
is the world’s greatest online anthology of diary extracts. It is presented in the same way as popular books like The Assassin’s Cloak and The Faber Book of Diaries, i.e. by calendar day, but contains more, and many longer, extracts than is possible in published books. Moreover, for each quoted extract there’s a link to a Diary Review article with some or all of the following: further extracts, biographical information, contexts, a portrait, and links to online sources/etexts. Furthermore, new extracts are added on a regular basis.

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Notes and Cautions
In general, these diary extracts are quoted as given in the published (book or online) source referred to in the reference articles. Each extract may be all, a large part of, or a small part of the complete entry for that day. I have tried to indicate where text has been removed from within a quote by the use of trailing dots in square bracket.

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The Diary Junction is one of those wonderful privately maintained public resources for which the Internet is justly celebrated: a database of information about celebrated and obscure diaries[over 500] from all historical periods, with referrals to the dates the diaries cover, where the originals are held and bibliographic information on published versions.’ Laura Miller, Salon

The Diary Review, hosted by Blogger, publishes magazine-style articles on diaries and diarists, several times a week. Now over ten years old, The Diary Review is the secondary source for the extracts in this online anthology.