Daily Archives: January 1, 2011

January 1st 1949: “Overeating and underthinking”

On New Year’s Eve 1948 Frye started his first new diary since 1942 because he felt he was “not working hard enough” and a diary, as he puts it in an extensive statement of purpose, would provide “more machinery” to get him working harder — which proves just how relative “working hard” really is.  That afternoon he went to see Laurence Oliver’s Hamlet, which, he says, suffers from a typical “subjective fallacy” to which this play is particularly prone, including “slash[ing] the soliloquies to pieces” and cutting Ophelia’s role to make her “just the ‘anima’ of Hamlet,” to the extent that “her mature intensity of feeling & her sharp sly humor” are no longer apparent.

On New Year’s Day, a Saturday, he makes this observation about the holiday itself: “New Year’s is a dull holiday: Christmas provides a definite ritual of things to do, but New Year’s is just a day to dither & dawdle through, overeating and underthinking.”  Given the ambitions Frye laid out for that year — including becoming more fluent in German, Italian and Latin — it must have been an especially dull day.