The Journals of Denton Welch

… before i am done with Denton Welch completely i will have to read one of his books… they were well received in his lifetime and i wonder if that is where the “profound’ content winds up… or, perhaps i have to recalibrate my concept of profound, which is an epiphanic thought or idea that represents a deep insight into the meaning of being alive in this cosmos… such an idea would make death seem reasonable… if we just got to grasp such an insight before we melt back into the cosmic fabric, all would be ok… or so i like to imagine…

… another odd menu… tomato soup, egg and celery pie, melba toast and minced pie1

… interestingly, the Journals come more alive with the arrival of Eric as a permanent fixture in his life…

… it occurs to me to look up egg and celery pie and i find a quiche recipe… then, because i have some cardoon in the refrigerator, i look up cardoon quiche, don’t find anything so then look up cardoon and eggs, do find something, and then resolve to make a cardoon quiche because cardoon, plus egg, plus gruyere cheese might be interesting… i think we will skip eggs this morning and make that tonight for dinner… while Fiona is recovering…

… DW talking about an 18th century doll house he is restoring… quite a lot of detail… remembered from years ago, though the object is in front of him to provoke the memories…


  1. The Journals of Denton Welch, p 180 [return]

First thoughts:

… Fiona spay day… a little nervous… will be glad to have it over with… then on to the recovery and getting myself mentally and physically ready for a colonoscopy… a year overdue… a major step forward in the doctoring that needs doing…

… speaking of things intestinal… clearly had a bug yesterday of the sort that makes me pretty unhappy, not because of unfortunate bowl movements, but because of an all over achey feeling that really wears me down… a malevolent organism on the march… i feel better this AM… i also re-started my probiotic supplement this AM… the subscription came undone due to some rearrangement of my prime account at Amazon…

… colonoscopy, then thanksgiving next week…

… an edge of frustration that few people read what i write… i tell myself that isn’t the point… writing every day and publishing everyday is the point… a product of the now… every day… when i review it… i like what i have done… so, keep doing it…

… part of me thinks that my writing should be dense with profound understanding… that is not the point unless profound understanding is composed of the minutia of my life… that’s what this blog is about… the day in and day out record of some of what i pay attention to… an intentional recording…

… as i read Denton Welch’s journals, i find profound understanding largely absent… it is a detailed and well written account of what was important to him and much of it is pretty self centered… there is the occasional passage that dives a little more deeply into the broad human condition…

… is my writing as self centered?… it is to some degree but, i like to think, also big picture focused to some degree…

… i read a forecast in The Economist that indicated the most likely result of the midterms will be a Republican controlled house, Democrat controlled Senate… short of disaster… all the big stuff needs to get done in the next year…

… HCR meter mostly about the infrastructure package (a BFD) and how far right extremists are seeking to punish any republican that voted for it… there were 13 in the house who did… it is being portrayed as the another step in a socialist takeover of the country… one hopes the benefits will become apparent by the midterms and perhaps the house will stay under Democratic leadership… a fellow can dream…

The Journals of Denton Welch

… i might be getting bored with them… but i would like to get to the end, so i will persist…

… life with Eric settles, they live together now… despite the occasional bomb blast and sick day, all is bliss…

The moon shone through the Gothic window on my face. It had nothing to tell but stillness, dead wonder, magic that changes everything from heat and fear to the silver of the snails forgotten trail.

When Erik was away and I lay in bed so still with books, my thoughts, the pretty things I have collected, I thought that all I really wanted was to be alone, to think and to dream in a daze about work I shall do. But now that he is asleep on the bed, I find I can still think and dream, and I even feel better physically because someone is here if I should not feel well.

There’s always this question with me, to be alone or not. Really, to be alone is my nature. If it were not so, I would not have been alone as much as I have.

Is reverie really what people live for, and do they just do things to feed their reverie?1

… as i read the above, i see reflections of myself… as H would tell anyone, i am a loner… it’s partly true, i like my alone time and i do a great deal to feed my reveries… i have managed to work out a way to have the alone time… it’s why i get up at 4 AM… H will sleep to at least 7 (when i am usually heading out the door for my walk)… for three often blissful hours i read and write… feed my reveries then write them down and share them with the world, which really isn’t interested but i only care a little about that… i envy DW’s success in getting published, but realize that i would have to pull myself together and write something more contained than this sprawling journal which nobody has time, even if interested, to read more than a little of… the journal is the thing to me… this daily reporting of the randomly important details of my life and reveries… this window into the ordinariness of life, my life… yes DW, i at least live in large part for my reveries…

… this seems a good place to stop… the place where the reveries have been fed and then regurgitate onto the computer screen and fired off into the www…


  1. Welch, Denton. The Journals of Denton Welch. p 173 [return]

The Journals of Denton Welch

… yes, titled posts when i am reading and writing about a book or an article… it makes sense then…

… this passage:

When you long with all your heart for someone to love you, madness grows there that shakes all sense from the trees and the water and the earth. And nothing lives for you, except the long deep bitter want. And this is what everyone feels from birth to death.1

… i suppose he is really thinking about unrequited love… my experience of love that is in any way returned, is that it is sweet, not bitter, even loves that can’t be consummated…

… DW’s torment over Eric…

And we had prawns and lettuce hearts and partridge eggs, and macaroni, and plum flan and peppermint cream and coffee and apple juice.2

… what a curious menu…

… on the sixth of June, he notes “that the invasion had begun on Northern France”3… the war doesn’t figure much in the journals even though they are written entirely within the war… i am trying to imagine living in Europe during WW II, keeping this journal, and saying very little about it… did he really pay so little attention to such a consequential unfolding of history?… was he really that self involved?… even this mention of the invasion is one made in passing…

… and now it seems the Northern France invasion has made ignoring the war all but impossible…

 I thought it was strange to sit with elderly ladies in such a clean, such a Tudorized house with radiators and frigidaires, while the most unspeakable atrocities were happening in mass is only 100 miles away at least.4


  1. Welch, Denton, The Diaries of Denton Welch, p 145 [return]
  2. Ibid, pp 150-151 [return]
  3. Ibid, p 150 [return]
  4. Ibid, p 151 [return]

The Journals of Denton Welch

… what an interesting entry:

 I seem to have spent a great deal of my childhood in prison — other people’s prisons. The Black Tulip prison, the French Revolution prisons, the Spanish Inquisition prisons. And the horror of those prisons was so real to me that I often look back and vaguely remember straw, the filthy food, the oozing walls and the toads on the floor, as if I were really once in that situation. Whenever I hear about prisons, I seem to imagine that I have experience confinement myself.

… would one engage so strongly in prison fantasy if one were not feeling in a prison themselves?… i wonder what DW’s prison was… certainly it was his physical infirmity in adulthood, but this memory takes place in childhood before the accident that ruined his health… would it be closeted homosexuality?… that would be the major suspect, but without knowing more about his life, i don’t know if there were other prisons to be endured…

… DW describing a visit to a wealthy woman to deliver a painting of her pug… DW seems to be comfortably bourgeois… i think to myself that a painting of a pug could not be breaking any new ground in art… is it pandering to the wealthy for sustenance?… the journals so far leave me with the impression that while DW was open to experiences, and rendered them in often considerable detail in his journals, that there isn’t anything particularly extraordinary about him other than his penchant for prose writing… i will have to read one of his fictional works before i arrive at a firm opinion… in any case, my efforts are no more groundbreaking or notable… not even as notable, because i’ve had little success at being noticed in general… he is going places and doing things that i can only imagine the equivalent of in my time on earth… my movement through this time and space is more mundane… yet i write about it and publish what i write… am i any less arrogant?…

The Journals of Denton Welch

… women continue to be “supporting cast” in DW’s journals… he is all about the men and seems to manage a level of intimacy with total strangers that is surprising given my understanding of the difficult time men have talking to one another… and i wonder if any of them suspect he is gay?… the men are brief encounters as he moves about the world… none yet has become a lover, or at least, that he is willing to tell about in his journals… i imagine him as an effeminate man who aspired to take the place of the ladies the young men he befriended would talk about as men do…

… an extended set of entries describing a rogue man named Monte… this set of entries becomes the basis of a book, we are told… Monte is an incorrigible liar and confidence man… one wonders whether these entries are entirely fact or already the fictional account that will make its way into a book at a later date… DW seems to have regularly penned things into his journal that were rough drafts or sketches for something more ambitious later…

The Journals of Denton Welch

… DW appears to be a bit of an aristocrat in attitude if not in actual wealth… he seems to admire the trappings of wealth, refined things, interiors, private pew boxes for the wealthy…

… and then, a passage describing an encounter with a young working class man… he seemed to be attracted to pleasantly muscled with labor and tanned from sun exposure young men… it’s his version of a pinup that he might pleasure himself to… it’s rather contradictory, a bit Lady Chatterly’s lover, LGBTQ+ version…

John Cowper Powys A Philosophy of Solitude is mentioned… Wikipedia describes this book and two other non-fiction products as better aligned with the self-help books of the modern era… offering advice on the achievement of happiness in an otherwise ordinary and mean existence…

… DW goes on at length about all the “boys” he encounters in the landscape… very few women and when encountered, a more matter of fact and brief assessment… well healed and well connected women are worth his time in description but mostly he has eyes for the men… homosexuality is a clear subtext of his observations of men and boys… so clear that it is frank and honest without being in your face…

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…

The Journals of Denton Welch

… there is mention of an article on Gerard (Manley) Hopkins… DW apparently admires him as a genius and is disappointed in the article for making him seem ordinary… i have no idea who this is so I look him up… an English poet and Jesuit Priest who became widely recognized, posthumously, for his poetry… he was an innovator who influenced the work of T. S. Eliot, Dylan Thomas, W. H. Auden, Stephen Spender and Cecil Day-Lewis… i read about sprung rhythm… it does not make complete sense to me…

… Hopkins was becoming a recognized poet at the time DW was writing his journals… one wonders if he knew of him before his popularization or as a result of that… it makes a difference to his assessment of Hopkins… did he recognize him as a genius on his own?… or was he being told he was a genius?…

a link to the poetry of Hopkins…

… oh my, DW has such a huge opinion of himself…

This is a terribly muddled state to be in. It shows that I can never be true friends with anyone except distant women — far away. For I wish for communion with the inarticulate and can only fray and fritter with the quick. I would tinsel, tinsel all the day if I were so placed. Yet I love myself and my company so much that I would not even ask the soldier to come in for fear of his becoming a regular visitor. I even feel people pollute my house who come into it.1

… not much progress this AM… a little distracted…


  1. Welch, Denton, The Journals of, p 11 [return]

Denton Welch, The Journals of

… read the the jacket flaps… read a wikipedia article discussing the varying editions… i have the 1984 edition which is expanded but noted as having several misprints and misreadings…

… as i turn to the introduction by Michael De-la-noy, i take note of the small type and the length of the book, 371 pages… this will take some time…

… astoundingly, i learn he could not read until the age of 9, but traveled far and wide with his mother… his family was well off…

He was, as Edith Sitwell never tired of telling him, a born writer, and everything he wrote was written after he was condemned to death.1

… just finished De-la-noy’s introduction… i am certain i will enjoy the journals…


  1. De-la-noy, Michael, The Journals of Denton Welch, p ix [return]