And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

22 November

Horace Walpole,
historian and writer

‘22nd, died that extraordinary man, Robert Lord Clive, aged fifty. His fatigues of body and mind had greatly impaired and broken his constitution. He was grown subject to violent disorders in his bowels on any emotion, and they often were attended by convulsion. He was at Bath, but being suddenly sent for to town by Varelst, one of his Indian accomplices, on what emergency was not known, he was seized with violent pains. Dr. Fothergill, his physician, gave him, as he had been wont to do, a dose of laudanum in the evening. It did not remove his anguish, and he demanded more laudanum. Some said Fothergill told him if he took more he would be dead in an hour; others, that more was administered. It is certain that he took more without or with the privity of the physician, and did die within the time mentioned: but he certainly cut his throat. So many recent suicides gave the more weight to the belief of this. He was in his forty-ninth year.’

The thread of my observations


Walter Scott,

‘Moore. I saw Moore (for the first time, I may say, this season). We had, indeed, met in public twenty years ago. There is a manly frankness with perfect ease and good breeding about him, which is delightful. Not the least touch of the poet or the pedant. [. . .] His countenance is plain, but the expression is very animated, especially in speaking or singing, so that it is far more interesting than the finest features could have rendered it. I was aware that Byron had often spoken, both in private society and in his journal, of Moore and myself in the same breath, and with the same sort of regard; so I was curious to see what there could be in common betwixt us, Moore having lived so much in the gay world, I in the country, and with people of business, and sometimes with politicians; Moore a scholar, I none; he a musician and artist, I without knowledge of a note; he a democrat, I an aristocrat; with many other points of difierence; besides his being an Irishman, I a Scotchman, and both tolerably national. Yet there is a point of resemblance, and a strong one. We are both good-humoured fellows, who rather seek to enjoy what is going forward than to maintain our dignity as Lions; and we have both seen the world too widely and too well not to condemn in our souls the imaginary consequence of literary people, who walk with their noses in the air, [. . .] He always enjoys the mot pour rire and so do I. It was a pity that nothing save the total destruction of Byron’s memoirs would satisfy his executors; but there was a reason. [. . .] We went to the theatre together, and the house being luckily a good one, received Thomas Moore with rapture. I could have hugged them, for it paid back the debt of the kind reception I met with in Ireland.’

Doomed to sing


Søren Kierkegaard,

‘The difference between an author who picks up his material everywhere but does not work it up into an organic whole and one who does that is, it seems to me, like the difference between mock turtle and real turtle. The meat from some parts of the real turtle tastes like veal, from other parts like chicken, but it is all together in one organism. All these various kinds of meat are found in mock turtle, but that which binds the separate parts is a sauce, which still is often more nourishing than the jargon which takes its place in a lot of writing.’

Mock and real turtles


John Everett Millais,

‘All four began work early. William left at five, promising to come again on Monday. . . After dinner Hunt and Collins left for London, the former about some inquiries respecting an appointment to draw for Layard, the Nineveh discoverer. After they were gone, I wrote a very long letter to Mrs. Combe.’

At work on Ophelia


Henry J. Heinz,

‘Hardest day on finances we ever had I mean we were as near going to protest as ever we were. E. J. thought we would have to let two notes go to protest, but I managed just seven minutes before three to check on Sharpsburg through Peoples and got a certified check for $1,200.’

Caught in the mustard mill


Robert Charles Benchley,
writer and actor

‘Played football in the moonlight until nearly 11 o’clock. Came back to the room and fooled around.’

I hope not a ‘what it was’


Paul Léautaud,

‘Went this morning to fetch the proofs of my chronique dramatique . . . When I got them I told Morisse I was going to surprise every passage which might lead anyone to think I was tinted with antisemitism. He protested. But Dumur was there, and he sided with me, saying it was quite unlike me to say anything antisemitic.

But at five, when I took the corrected proofs back, Morisse reproached me almost bitterly for my cowardice in suppressing the passages in question, saying he would never have expected it of me, etc. It took me a long time to convince him there was no question of cowardice, and that in any case there was in me something that went beyond all questions of cowardice or courage and that was the pleasure I derived from saying what I had it in my heart to say to all and sundry, whether it be for or against. In this particular case I didn’t want people to think I thought what I didn’t think, and that was all, except that I wasn’t very sure of my facts and didn’t relish having passed remarks on a subjet I was not sufficiently well-informed about.’

So I held my tongue


Roger Casement,

‘At Leticia since 11.30 p.m. Left only at 7.30 a.m. taking up Peruvian officer and family and enormous mass of rubbish of furniture including 5 jerrys! Cold is again very bad. Left letters to Tom, Gallwey, O’Reilly and Bernardino. . . Clock on church is painted strip of canvas always at 11.45 a.m.! . . . Met “Elisa” and got papers - including a “Truth” with part of Paredes’ summing up. José came and asked me for photo in Iquitos - looking lovely and then at 8.30 for cigarette papers and later I called and pulled mine and asked for water. Also with Pilot’s boy.’

Casement’s black reputation


Alex Babine,

‘At the tea table of a socially humble friend’s, with the samovar hospitably whispering and sizzling, I was introduced to a friend of the family, a Soviet official, pale from rheumatism, but good-looking and well built, apparently a mechanic by profession. When the conversation turned to the treatment of the bourgeoisie by the new regime, my new acquaintance spoke firmly in support of a statement of his: “I by no means regret shooting and killing my fourteen men, not in the least.” My friend, giving him a quiet look, explained: “Of course, you only saw to their being executed,” and nicely shifted the conversation to another topic. My friend is a perfectly respectable man, but his company - sumptuously treated considering the times - was a revelation to me.’

Jailed for making soap


Arthur C. Clarke,

‘Called Stan and said I didn’t think any of our flashback ideas were any good. He slowly talked me out of this mood, and I was feeling more cheerful when I suddenly said: “What if our E. T.’s are stranded on Earth and need the ape-men to help them?” This idea (probably not original, but what the hell) opened up whole new areas of plot which we are both exploring.’

Dreamed I was a robot


Tony Benn,

‘I was in the middle of an interview about the war in the Gulf for ‘Dispatches’ on Channel 4 when my secretary burst in to say Margaret Thatcher has resigned. Absolutely dazzling news, and it was quite impossible to keep my mind on the interview after that. So people have been to her and told her that she can’t win. She called the Cabinet together this morning and told them. But the motion of censure is still taking place this afternoon.

To the House, which was in turmoil. We had the censure debate, and Kinnock’s speech was flamboyant and insubstantial. When he was cross-examined about the European currency he simply couldn’t answer. Thatcher was brilliant. She always has her ideology to fall back on; she rolled off statistics, looked happy and joked.’

Thatcher gives a cuddle


Raoul Ruiz,

‘In flight to Lisbon. We ended yesterday’s night watching videos of Portuguese melodramas: Fado, with Amalia Rodrigues, and a cop flick by Ladislao Vadja (Marcelino pan y vino). Later I dined with the poet neighbor Waldo Rojas and Ely [Godoy-Rojas]. They come from a vernissage of Latin American artists. Euphoria and coldness. One hour before, brief meeting with Jean Diard to prepare an agitation plan. It’s about putting in contact, through his Confluences cultural center, various filmmakers from the neighborhood. There’s more every day. I’ve crossed paths with Chantal Akerman, with Alain Fleischer and lots of actors. With Jean Lefaux we’re putting together a triennial to organize a Film Without Qualities Festival and a Workshop (one month per year).

Valeria prepares a roast beef accompanied with a méli-mélo de champignons [-], the whole thing united with truffle oil. Irregular wine, but coherent. Then we screened half hour of The Secret Journey, that I finished mixing four days ago. Watchable. I think it’s tighter, more asciutto, than in the first watch. The neighbors don’t stop making commentaries, as if they were watching a vacation film. It’s true that what I’ve been doing lately, in the way that it maintains itself in secret, has lost all prestige, tends to be a home movie. But it’s watchable anyway.

Even later extremely boring nightmares and towards six in the morning it’s the time to calendar. I watch the entirety the scene in the cabaret in which Ninon, according to the script, dances a torrid dance. In fact it’s not such a bad idea to make her enter covered in a tulle and make her spin like a dervish, getting naked, but spinning and covering herself again when she’s about to get naked. Meanwhile, the audience at the cabaret watches distracted, without stopping their conversations. The kids drink soup and our protagonists don’t stop disputing with each other. It seems more a South American than a Portuguese bar, but, anyway! Portugal has always been for me a bridge and a substitute. The European body of the kingdom of Chile. At liftoff, the plane left the track, but managed to brake. Excellent pretext to drink a whisky.

Reading or re-reading The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner by J. Hogg. It should be the film that I’ll make next year around this time. Three days ago we worked with Jérôme Prieur, who wrote the prologue of the Marabout edition. I don’t know what to think. From Ian Christie to Françoise Dumas, more than twenty friends try to convince me that I adapt this Neo Gothic novel that I like and gives me ideas for other films, but I’m not sure that the novel itself lends itself for a filmed recreation. There are true moments of madness and I feel images coming of hilarious cruelty, but, like The Man Who Was Thursday by Chesterton, I feel that these novels work more as fans than as vacuum cleaners. They scatter and impregnate, but in themselves they aren’t idea magnets. But I could be wrong. In any case we’ve convened to place it in 1830’s France and end it towards the end of the XIX century with the discovery of the justified sinner, suspended, frozen in a glacier.

This sudden association with E. A. Poe has me in a good mood. It’s strange the way in which fictions associate to generate filmable images: La chouette aveugle by Hedayat didn’t summon (although it did discover) imagery, but the contact with El condenado por desconfiado by Tirso de Molina was enough for it to secrete audiovisual figures of enormous potency. In 40 minutes we shall land. Enough time for a cognac and to take a nap.

Later. In the neighborhood of Graça, waiting for André Gomes, actor and plastic artist. The whole afternoon studying the work plan, which is quite tight. Some streets are missing. The rest is all chosen already. I think it’s the first time that a production is this advanced. Yes, I think it’s the first time. I still feel that I’m not prepared the same. What’s missing above all is a coherent way to organize the shots. I’m trying to follow species of the spiral kind from right to left or alternating details and wide shots. Something to hold onto. And, of course, I keep avoiding eroticism. And I wrote the script (like the one for Three Crowns of the Sailor) coming out of the hospital and a urgent desire to fuck, doubled this time by the generous effect of a treatment with vitamin E.

From the window of the hotel (the same room I had while prepping Three Crowns of the Sailor) you can see the Castle and the river. Intriguing twilight. It stopped raining. Lots of transparency. But I want fog. But I want to work with a lot of diffusers. Women’s stockings, 30’s silk breeches (today’s don’t filter the same, the supplementary nylon or the treatment of the silk gives it a stupid multicolored and sweetened effect). Anyway. The eroticism reemerges where one least expects it.’

Day of disasters


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Why Ever Did I Want to Write is a patchwork of themed stories about one man’s early life, embracing highs and lows but driven by a desire to make the most of being alive, to experience, to feel, and above all to understand. Reminiscent of Karl Knausgaard’s A Death in the Family and Theodore Zeldin’s An Intimate History of Humanity, this memoir, often based on diaries, sees Lyons reflecting on a repressed childhood, exploring the world through years of travelling, and searching for meaning and excitement in the arts and love affairs – an archetype of the counterculture in the 1970s and 1980s.

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Kip Fenn is a success: his career has taken off within a major UN agency trying to spread wealth from the rich to the poor. But all is not well with the world - the golden age of oil and chips is now over, and unsustainable development is leading to social turmoil, and to world war. Kip has found love and a new family, but he can find no way to stop his older children self-destruct; nor does he realise his partner’s deceit.

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Third time lucky - Kip Fenn finds true love. His UN career though is ending with a whimper. Another terrible war is cut short by the devastating Grey Years, and while nations rebuild many individuals turn Notek. In restless retirement, Kip’s lifelong passion for vintage photos sees him launching a new arts institution. But who is the mysterious visitor by his bedside, and how will she affect his planned deathday?


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.

For any other use of these diary extracts other than browsing please refer to the original sources.

Any author, publisher or other copyright holder who takes the view that I am unacceptably breaching their copyright please let me know. I have tried to remain sensitive to copyright rules (using far fewer quotes, for example, when a book, by an author still alive, remains in print and popular), but it is not practical for me to seek authorisation for every quote and article, since I maintain these websites without any funding or advertis-ing. I take the view that publicity for the source books is a quid pro quo for my use of the extracts, but I am more than happy to remove the extracts if asked.

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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.