By ADRIAN TAHOURDIN
In a letter to the TLS in 2012, Charles Elliott neatly precised Virginia Woolf’s experience of reading Proust, as related in her letters and diaries. He pointed out that on January 21, 1922, she wrote: “Everyone is reading Proust . . . . I am trembling on the brink”. By August 18 she revealed, “Next I go on to Proust”. By April 18, 1923, “I am reading Proust” and, two years later (April 8, 1925), it’s “Proust, in whom I am embedded”. By July 20 of that year a note of exasperation has crept in: “Proust I should like to finish”. Three years on again, things haven’t improved markedly, if this entry (dated June 20, 1928) is to be believed: “Take up Proust after dinner & put him down”. Oh dear. Sounds as though she is forcing herself by now. And what are we to make of this revelation, six years further on (July 22, 1934)? “I followed my new diversion of book binding. I am covering Proust in little shiny squares of gummed paper”.