Journal entry written by Lucy



Journal entry written by Lucy


Lucy kept diaries and recorded personal notes about her life on looseleaf papers which were often intermingled with her school notebooks. In this entry, Lucy recounts her anxiety about accepting a book from Ralph Schoenman, Russell’s private secretary and an employee of the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation. She also records Russell correcting her word choices, giving her advice about her interest in writing, and discussing the possible existence of God. Despite all this advice, or perhaps because of it, Lucy feels claustrophobic and browbeaten. She includes an apt quotation from Coleridge’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”—in this poem, one of Western literature’s great monologuers, the Ancient Mariner, detains the protagonist to discharge a didactic tale of woe.


Lucy Russell


8 September 1964


Lucy Russell fonds, Box 7, File 2


September 8th 1964

Now at last I feel I’m returning to & regaining the way of life, and the inward life, and the whole life, that we had before—our original, real life here which feels natural and is so. The kind of conduct which I feel is right and a constant contentedness with the life I am leading. I feel real & better again; if Jesus had any work for me to do, I should be beginning on it now.

Ralph [Schoenman] sent me another book, the 2nd, by Thomas; I felt terrible about it because I wished like anything I had said something indicating how I felt when he gave me the first one, & thought that G&G disapproved of me for not so doing. But Gpa said this evening Ralph would have been terribly hurt if I hadn’t accepted it (so, thank God) & that set my worries at rest. He doesn’t think there’s any reason not to, so much so that he dismissed it with a couple of sentences. Also they both wanted to know why I don’t like it. At different times, & I don’t really tell them. Except that he is intrusive & sits on you, & gives me agoraphobia (corrected from claustrophobia by Gpa). G. says he doesn’t really think women are quite equal to men (& both say he’s very very kind, generous etc.). Edith says she’s never met anyone so generous, which I don’t believe (Daddy), although he often doesn’t realize what he’s doing & is so rebellious he rebels against almost everyone.

If I could see him independently, without feeling so browbeaten, I should like him, I think—but as it is, my God. Almost intolerable. (has been) for human dignity.

I fear the Ancient Mariner
I fear thy skinny hand!
And thou art long & lank & brown,
As is the rib’d sea-sand.

I fear thee & thy glittering eye,
And thy skinny hand so brown.

Granpa read me a piece from A Free Man’s Worship, which was very good & we talked abt. Religion. He says 1: God is omnipotent & all-loving, he doesn’t exist, or he is the devil (not accurate). Anyway, he may be omnipotent or all-loving, & he may be the devil, but if he is both omnipotent & all-loving, he doesn’t exist.

He says all one can do is decide what kind of life one wld like to have lived, & try to live that. It isn’t easy, bec. unpleasant things turn up, but that is it.

We read Blake, the Song of Deborah, & mentioned Keats & he asked if I write things & what. I answered scraps, not stories. He advises reading a lot of good-style stuff & reading small passages over & over rather than lots, when they’re gd, to get the rhythm.

I do none of this justice so I’ll sleep.