Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A Sample footnote

Hugh Whitbread has given me some of the best ones for my edition of Mrs. Dalloway. Still, I spend my days with a mix of pride and shame, reducing five volumes of Woolf diaries down to twenty pages of notes and then reducing those twenty pages down to three pages of footnotes.
It’s like making demi-glace: so much work for something so unimpressive looking. Still, if the footnotes are good, then the edition will be a feast.
12.17-18 When his old mother wanted him to give up shooting Clive Bell proffered a similar promise to Vanessa during their engagement: “Bell had confessed that he could even give up hunting if necessary in order to marry” (L 1.206; 27 Aug. 1905; to Violet)
Clarissa is weighing the good and the bad of “the admirable Hugh”: so overly proud of his “little job at the Palace,” but also a kind man, a man who gives up shooting if his mother wishes him to. But, then again, it’s hardly saintly to give up hunting. And fat men who visit dowagers and compliment their cake are, in general, not adding a lot of good to the world.

I love all the moral calculations that go into the assessments and reassessments of Hugh and finding this little connection to Clive Bell, Woolf’s brother-in-law, only sweetens the complexities. From the first, Clive was a little outside Bloomsbury for his gentleman-sportsman ways, just as this quotation shows.

So, that’s one footnote.

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