Edited By Pawel Schreiber and Joanna Malicka
The Beginnings and Endings in Selected Journals of Dorothy Wordsworth and Mary Shelley
At the risk of stating the obvious, it must be said that the journal genre1 is subject to a strictly mechanical order, expressed through dating, and its inseparable quality is the option to begin and to end at any point (Głowiński 1973: 80). Margo Culley has noted that “diaries do […] have distinct shapes, [which] […] derive from their existence in time passing. Some are shaped by external events in the diarist’s life, which, even from the writer’s point of view, have a beginning, middle and end. Courtship diaries ending with a marriage and travel diaries ending with the arrival at a destination are examples of such texts” (Culley 1985: 19). Philippe Lejeune, in turn, observes that partial diaries – recording the progress of vacations, spiritual retreats, research or pregnancies – terminate at preplanned points as “their limitation is simultaneously chronological and thematic” (Lejeune 2009: 189). In contrast to autobiography, which may be said to take its beginning from the end, “the diary is virtually unfinishable from the beginning” (Lejeune 2009: 191). Naturally, in view of the above, the beginning and the ending are two significant diaristic moments.
Philippe Lejeune has said that the beginning of a journal is usually rather explicit, that “it is rare to begin one without saying so”, but that journal endings usually pose problems both for the diarist and, consequently, for the researcher (Lejeune 2009: 187). This may be due to several reasons. In the first place, there looms the question of the...
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