New Selected Journals, 1939-1995

Karl Miller writes:

There’s an affinity between the candour and humour of Spender’s journals and those of the pioneer diarist, egotist and owner-up, Boswell, a performer, an actor, who, with some degree of paradox, wanted everyone to know what he was. Spender’s episode of the famous fart is completely Boswellian. Boswell was frequently taken with a pinch of salt, as Stephen said of himself, and his writings were often slighted. His journals, unknown till fairly recently, would no doubt have been slighted too, had they been accessible earlier: they are his masterpiece. Both men were hero-worshippers who sought fathers in the great, with Auden a less considerate and no less acerbic parent than Johnson.

(LRB 30 August 2012)

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