Notes On Attention Paid

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The Journals of Denton Welch

… so far, i am not certain of the broader value of DW’s journaling… his descriptive powers and command of the English language are, as advertised, impressive… but he seems arrogant, self indulgent and often petty in his assessments of people around him… i am not sure i see the potential for any profound observations… an observation that dives to the core of what it is to be human in this cosmos… or perhaps he is the profound observation… a complicated human being that seems more honest than many in his journals…

… most who write about him or his work excuse his less attractive qualities because of his accident and the, reputedly, constant pain he suffered… they make him out as a kind of saint to endure such affliction and produce so much so well… i think at best one can excuse him for being young and vain, complicated by his unfortunate physical circumstances and consequent short life…

… i read further and recognize the over abundant passion of a young man responding to the cosmos around him… the lovely description of an oriental lacquer screen in the fading daylight…

… and then, a really lovely entry, from his sick bed, imagining an historic old house as it might have been inhabited more than a century before… observations of the solemn, harsh adults, the contrasting gaiety of children and of servants quarreling and making love… this starts to be less the arrogant, over passionate youth, and more the maturing writer who is beginning to understand restraint and, in any case, is focused on something other than himself for the moment…

… the description of a suicide attempt… the rough draft for a story… compelling… the editor of the book warns in a footnote that the scene is fictional… still, it compels me to think it real and i wonder whether there is some basis in facts as all DW’s work is autobiographical… he writes powerfully in this passage… i begin to be a fan despite his foibles…