The Yellow Notebook
* 13 A Short Novel, To Be Called ‘The Man Who Is Free Of Women’
A man of about fifty, a bachelor, or perhaps was married for a short time, his wife died, or he got divorced. If an American, he is divorced, but if English, he has this wife tucked away somewhere, he might even live with her or share a house, but without real emotional contact. At fifty, he has had a couple of dozen affairs, three or four serious. These serious affairs were with women who hoped to many him, they lingered on, in what were really marriages without formal ties, he broke the affairs off at the point where he had to marry them. At fifty he is dry, anxious about his sexuality, has five or six women friends, all ex-mistresses, now married. He is a cuckoo in half a dozen families, the old family friend. He is like a child, dependent on women, gets vaguer and more inefficient, is always ringing up some woman to do something for him. Outwardly a dapper, ironic intelligent man, making an impression on younger women for a week or so. He has these affairs with girls or much younger women, then returns to the older women who fulfil the function of kindly nannies or nursemaids.
* 14 A Short Novel
A man and a woman, married or in a long relationship, secretly read each other’s diaries in which (and it is a point of honour with them both) their thoughts about each other are recorded with the utmost frankness. Both know that the other is reading what he/she writes, but for a while objectivity is maintained. Then, slowly, they begin writing falsely, first unconsciously; then consciously, so as to influence the other. The position is reached where each keeps two diaries, one for private use, and locked up; and the second for the other to read. Then one of them makes a slip of the tongue, or a mistake, and the other accuses him/her of having found the secret diary. A terrible quarrel which drives them apart for ever, not because of the original diaries — ‘but we both knew we were reading those diaries, that doesn’t count, how can you be so dishonest as to read my private diary!’
* 15 A Short Story
An American man, English woman. She, in all her attitudes, emotions, expects to be possessed and taken. He, in all his attitudes and emotions, expects to be taken. Regards himself as an instrument to be used, by her, for her pleasure. Emotional deadlock. Then they discuss it: the discussion, on sexual emotional attitudes, turns into a comparison of the two different societies.