Saturday, July 15, 2006

Florence Wolfson's diary

From tomorrow's New York Times:

In its nearly 2,000 entries, the diary paints a picture of a teenager obsessed both with her appearance and with the meaning of existence.

Jan. 16, 1930: “I bought a pair of patent leather opera pumps with real high heels!” On April 8 that year: “Bought myself a little straw hat $3.45 — It won’t last long.” On April 20 the following year: “Dyed my eyebrows & eyelashes and I’ve absolutely ruined my face.” On March 13, 1934: “A fashion show for amusement and almost overcome with envy — not for the clothes, but the tall, slim loveliness of the models.”

Yet interspersed with observations about frivolous matters are equally heartfelt remarks about the books she loved — Baudelaire and Jane Austen were particular favorites — the paintings she studied, the performances she attended and the city that was her home.

“Slept long hours, read ‘The Divine Comedy’ and for the most part too exhausted to think or even understand,” she wrote on March 12, 1934. Four months later: “Reading ‘Hedda Gabler’ for the tenth time.”

Music, a recurring theme, scored her life with exclamation points. Beethoven symphonies! Bach fugues! “Have stuffed myself with Mozart and Beethoven,”“ she wrote on June 28, 1932. “I feel like a ripe apricot — I’m dizzy with the exotic.”
As a teenager, Florence Wolfson kept a five-year diary from 1929 to 1934. She and her diary were recently reunited.

Link » Speak, Memory (New York Times, registration required)

[Update, May 6, 2008: There's a book: The Red Leather Diary.]

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